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At the November 10, 2010 meeting...
Finishing for Broadcast: Making it Street Legal
Presented with The Boston Final Cut Pro User's Group and sponsored by the New England Broadcast Cable Expo

The November SMPTE-NE meeting was held on November 10 th at the New England Broadcast & Cable Expo in Worcester, Massachusetts. It represented a first collaboration between SMPTE-NE and the Boston Final Cut Pro User Group - BOSFCPUG. SMPTE-NE Section Manager and past chairman KEVIN LESSARD was highly enthusiastic about the prospects for future cooperation between the two groups.

The crowd at the meeting


"The presentations, along with the audience Q&A," states Lessard, " offered both the editors and engineers in attendance the opportunity to experience the daily challenges involved in taking a program or commercial from creation to air."

Dan Berube, founder of BOSFCPUG, was no less enthusiastic. "Any time BOSFCPUG can demonstrate workflow and make it accessible and easy to grasp, that is a win for us, and collaborating with SMPTE-NE at the Expo was a perfect example," states Berube. "Look forward to 2011 where both BOSFCPUG and SMPTE-NE will further engage with our creative community on workflow issues important to their success."

Three distinguished presenters, all acknowledged experts in their fields, generously shared from their collective knowledge of the topic. The speakers were: Patrick Inhofer, Ron Chubb and Dr. Richard Cabot.


Patrick Inhofer

Patrick Inhofer, an editor-turned colorist and owner of in New York City, a color grading 'boutique,' spoke extensively about the use of waveform monitors, vectorscopes, and the myriad other software and hardware tools he uses to enhance color and to 'keep it legal'.

He pointed out that easily overlooked problems such as digital clipping could result in color distortion. Glints, bright lights and reflections need to be monitored and carefully controlled to prevent excessive excursions that could easily sneak beyond the legal limits. Inhofer also emphasized paying close attention to the client's technical specifications, such as specific requirements for IRE limits on both chroma and luma. Screen shots of actual waveforms were of great help in illustrating the concepts that were being described. Inhofer revealed that some of his most challenging assignments have been for PBS, whose technical standards are well known to be among the most unforgiving.

There were many 'oohs and ahs' as Inhofer offered up examples of how a colorist's artistry can virtually re-make an otherwise prosaic image. When it comes to critical monitoring, Inhofer prefers to use external tools such as Blackmagic Design's Ultrascope, since, "Final Cut Pro tends to compress data and doesn't show everything," he says. After all is said and done, Inhofer still believes that using a broadcast 'legalizer' is a good final step before sending a program out over the air.

Inhofer is the current president of the New York City Final Cut Pro User Group and has recently launched a website,, that is devoted to teaching the art and science of color grading.

Ron Chubb, a 30-year veteran of the broadcast industry, currently serves as the head of sales, eastern region, for Ensemble Designs. He comes to Ensemble Designs by way of Sierra Video Systems and PESA Switching Systems.

Chubb shared with the group his extensive knowledge of the hardware side of legalizing the video signal. Like Inhofer, Chubb is of the opinion that the final legalizing step should come at the very end. He outlined the various color gamut levels for both HD and SD and described in some detail the real-time hardware approach to pixel-by-pixel legalizing for broadcast television.

Dr. Richard Cabot of Qualis Audio has earned four degrees, including a PhD from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a MBA from Pepperdine University. He chaired the committee that developed the AES-17 digital audio measurement standard and holds numerous patents in several areas of audio technology.

Dr. Cabot delved deeply into the ramifications of the likely to be enacted changes expected in broadcast audio. The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigating Act (CALM) is getting very close to becoming law. The House and Senate versions have to be reconciled before going to the president to be signed into law.

The CALM act essentially takes the ATSC/85 loudness recommendations and elevates them the force of law. The object of all of this is to tame the extreme dynamics that typically emanate from one's television speakers, especially the difference in perceived level between program and commercial content.

The Senate and House versions differ mainly over whether just commercial content or both commercial and program content will be affected by the new law. Broadcasters are rushing to arm themselves with both the equipment to ensure compliance as well as the equipment to prove that they have complied.

Dr. Cabot went into the aesthetic and technical decision-making elements that went into the ATSC/85 specifications.

SMPTE-NE and the BOSTON FINAL CUT PRO USER GROUP wishes to thank the NEW ENGLAND BROADCAST & CABLE EXPO and its sponsoring organization, THE VIDEO EDUCATORS OF NEW ENGLAND for providing a wonderful venue for this meeting.

Marty Feldman
SMPTE/New England Section

Image credits: Daniel Berube

Posted: 30 November 2010
Bob Lamm, SMPTE/New England Newsletter/Web Page Editor