If you follow this blog you will know that I had an issue with video levels when I output the show. They were too hot. In some cases they pushed 103 IRE, and in more than a few they pushed 109 IRE. VERY unacceptable in my book…and in the broadcast world. The max IRE allowed is 100. This is because anything above that can cause AUDIO noise. Yes…if the video levels are too hot they can cause noise to occur in the audio. So you want 100IRE to be your peak brightness. You not only adjust this with the color correction tools like the 3-way color corrector, but you can also use the filter BROADCAST SAFE, which is supposed to knock anything above 100IRE down to 100IRE, or below, and bring the blacks up, if they are too crushed.

Supposed to….but doesn’t.

I would color correct my shot (DVCPRO HD footage) and then find that there were sections where the gunfire was too hot, or the sunlight was too hot. But if I brought the brightness level down to get it below 100IRE, then by picture was too dark. Thus the need for the Broadcast Safe filter. I’ll chop off (or compress) the area above 100 IRE and make my show legal…but it didn’t. It did at first. I would apply the filter and get the bright green render bar…and sure enough the whites were brought down.

Then I rendered…and they popped back up to where they were before I applied the filter. I adjusted settings, the green render bar came back, the levels dropped, I rendered…and they went right back up. WHAT THE HELL?!?! This never happened to me before. I tried a bunch of things and eventually came across a great trick thatdid just what I needed. But that required exporting the cut and bringing it back in, and that took a while.

I thought it was just me. But it wasn’t. (Do you like these dramatic short paragraphs? I do!)

I had lunch with Mark Raudonis the other day. He is the head of Post Production at Bunim/Murray…creators of THE REAL WORLD for MTV, and THE SIMPLE LIFE for FOX. They are flush with Final Cut Pro stations and XSAN and online stations. They are a very high end post facility…and THEY suffered the same issues. Now, where I was editing with DVCPRO HD (and thinking the codec was the issue), they were editing uncompressed 8-bit SD timelines, and DVCPRO 50 timelines, and getting the same problem. Once the Broadcast safe filter was added, the levels jumped up. He went as far as to say that there was a 10-point increase in levels. Their solution? Color correct to 90 IRE then load the filter, and it pops them up to 100IRE.

This isn’t something that I noticed too much with the old scopes. It was only when my levels were hot when I went to output that I really encountered the problem. I tried to use the Broadcast Safe filter (interesting that the initials for this filter are BS) but once I rendered, my levels went right back up.

So…a word of warning. Be cautious of the Broadcast Safe filter. Don’t just slap it onto your sequence and think that it will make things legal. In more than one instance, that wasn’t the case.