Speaker Stuart Cunningham, BBS Research, UK
Time 2008-01-28 16:40
Conference LCA2008


(BBS R&D?)

Video to post-production.

Digital tapes:

  • Slow
  • copying done in real-time
  • error prone
  • expensive $30,000 - $40,000 for 4 channel tape recorder

MFX - Material Exchange Format

SMPTE standard 377M

Widely supported in cameras, VTRs & editing systems.

Standard definition, not high definition.

Online, for live productions

  • Uncompressed 166 Mbps
  • Digibeta tape 88 Mbps
  • MJPEG “2:1” 70 Mbps
  • DVCPRO50 58 Mbps
  • IMX 50 50 Mbps

(smaller files preferred for news, larger one for high quality productions)

Offline, for faster editing

  • DV 29 MBPs
  • MJPEG “10:1” 17 Mbps
  • MJPEG “20:1” 8 Mbps

SDI Capture card, $1000-$5000.

Dragons’ Den

Still need to conform from DigiBeta tape. Not as slow as before, only need the tapes being used, but still slow.

Foo Fighter’s video

Very cramped equipment overflowed onto toilet. Fans held by hand.

EastEnders - Serial Dramma

Problems with legacy equipment.

  • Old Avid editors and dark metadata
  • Pro Tools v 5.3.1 and MobID

Network problems, network cards on wrong PCI bus.

Other stuff

ffmpeg didn’t support DVCPRO50, so we contracted somebody to write a codec. It produced better quality output then many hardware encoders that cost up to $50,000.


High Definition - 2 streams supported with appropriate hardware.

archives are stored on tape:

  • was D3 video tapes, but these are obsolete, and no longer possible to get spare parts to repair drives.
  • current system is LTO-3, will take 5 years to convert old tapes to new format.
  • uncompressed - maximum quality
  • future proof, e.g. should be possible to convert to HDTV at maximum possible resolution.
  • Data on tapes claimed to last 30 years by tape manufacturer, and this figure is trusted.
  • LTO-3 tapes to be replaced in 5-10 years with newer technology.

Human robots cheaper then real robots for inserting tapes into drives, due to infrequent use.

Dr Who

Old episodes lost, despite some interesting techniques used to restore some of them.