Illegal Video Levels

Will get your master rejected.

Network QC departments can be very picky when it comes to proper levels. In the soon-to-be-old days of analog broadcast illegal NTSC level could adversely affect transmitter operation and theoretically cause a transmitter shutdown. There are few such perils in the digital world but networks still request finished masters to abide to specific level requirements.

It is important to note that levels straight out of camera are typically illegal. Most video cameras are designed to give you more headroom than you are allowed to have on a color corrected master.

There are four possible areas that a spec sheet may address:

1. Luminance level

2. Chrominance level (NTSC or PAL)

3. Cr, Cb levels

3. RGB gamut

In cases where levels are exceeding maximum limits it is possible to process the master through a hardware device that will clip the levels and bring them within allowed limits. Some devices do a better job than other. Get informed before you clip because networks can be sensitive about overly clipped levels.