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bluecortina918 posts since 26 Jul 2012

I thought that most itv playout used inserters at the vt machines ...
The BBC used this pre network transmission area
The the NTA used VITC and output inserters
The Digital area went to the correct system of source inserters include news studios and policing on the output of the playout suite,
The Broadcast centre went to output inserters ( as servers would only play out programmes with subtitles in the VBI at ingest ..which of course was before they were created !)

In the digital TX area programmes could be ingested with subtitles, but only if they were done manually, the intention was to use Flexicarts for programme ingest but they couldn't do subtitles.




I remember a Bond Film being shown early 80s. There were no subtitles for the first 15 mins, then they all suddenly burst through in very quick succesion, until they caught up with the film. Must have been floopy disc playout, but assuming the film was played directly from TK, how was the timecode referenced ? Or was it a case of manually spoon feeding them out in real time?


A Bond film? On the BBC? Well I never.
Markymark8,194 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
In the digital TX area programmes could be ingested with subtitles, but only if they were done manually, the intention was to use Flexicarts for programme ingest but they couldn't do subtitles.




I remember a Bond Film being shown early 80s. There were no subtitles for the first 15 mins, then they all suddenly burst through in very quick succesion, until they caught up with the film. Must have been floopy disc playout, but assuming the film was played directly from TK, how was the timecode referenced ? Or was it a case of manually spoon feeding them out in real time?


A Bond film? On the BBC? Well I never.


ITV I should have said!
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robertclark1251,588 posts since 13 Jan 2009
STV Central Reporting Scotland
I don't know whether this classifies as a breakdown, per se. But, in the 1980s, one Sunday, I recall putting on BBC1 Scotland, and they had opted out to show the Hawick v Kelso rugby union match. England was getting to see the film version of "Porridge". But, for some reason, I put on 888 for the subtitles, and saw the subtitles for Porridge playing out on screen, whilst we've got Bill McLaren doing rugby union commentary! How on earth could that have happened?
Markymark8,194 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
I don't know whether this classifies as a breakdown, per se. But, in the 1980s, one Sunday, I recall putting on BBC1 Scotland, and they had opted out to show the Hawick v Kelso rugby union match. England was getting to see the film version of "Porridge". But, for some reason, I put on 888 for the subtitles, and saw the subtitles for Porridge playing out on screen, whilst we've got Bill McLaren doing rugby union commentary! How on earth could that have happened?


Very simple, BBC Scotland didn't blank the incoming network subtitle data while they were 'opted'. Actually when did the BBC Nations start doing their own local subtitles ?
Inspector Sands14,780 posts since 25 Aug 2004

I remember a Bond Film being shown early 80s. There were no subtitles for the first 15 mins, then they all suddenly burst through in very quick succesion, until they caught up with the film. Must have been floopy disc playout, but assuming the film was played directly from TK, how was the timecode referenced ? Or was it a case of manually spoon feeding them out in real time?

That's a good question. Maybe they had a time coded tape running in parallel to the film and that was either just providing the timecode for the inserter or had the subtitles themselves on it. That could explain why they went fast - they forgot it and span the tape forward to catch up?


Subtitle syncing was often a challenge when I worked in playout. When I started at the BBC they were uploaded and stored on a drive. We then had to find the correct one and copy it onto a subtitle transmission system. If a programme was taken away for an edit then of course it had to go and have a new subtitle file too which I think meant a new viewing copy had to be made and sent to subtitling. Many a time people got caught out by putting the wrong version on, although as the line up procedure included checking the subtitles were in sync at the beginning and end it was usually obvious.

Nudging the subtitles to offset the timecode was something that could be done if the whole file was out, if it went astray mid programme then trying to fix it on air ended up with the viewers getting even more confused

The older system in the NTA had a nice feature where you could nudge subtitles on an on air programme offline and then when you had them correct send them to air. In the digital area it was a case of just loading them into an inserter above the VT machine, much more basic

The other issue that cropped up was not clearing out the subtitle file in a VT machine after finishing. I remember seeing a special BBC Choice ident going out with the subtitles from a Louis Theroux documentary. Unfortunately this was one about a shopping channel so the subtitles on the ident read 'this is the <something> shopping channel in Tampa Florida'
Last edited by Inspector Sands on 12 May 2020 7:47pm
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Technologist150 posts since 10 Oct 2018
London London
Picking up a few points
VBI Lines used for subtitles - BBC line 20/333 Itv CH4 5 and most satelite broadcasters line 334 Only
UK tv being BBC Playout used Line20/333 even though there was an Intelfax Anciallary text service on the lines
and not a packet of either service was lost!
The Bond film - Early (disk based) transmission systems sort of scrolled through the subtitle list - and did not blank the output while this was happening .... this could give a similar effect if the time code was not decoded properly - you could see all the subtitles to the end of the progremme in one lump in the worst case or a jump back and then to current time/ Subtitle..... but operationally the subtitles should have been checked before transmission..... -
Porridge subs on the Rugby ...... Despite Subtitles being on lines low in the VBI -this was so that they could be routed with the video and being on a high lien number the Regional/ National Vision mixer would not blank them ... But Ceefax was Bridged from Incoming from London to outgoing to Transmitter - and if the databridge was not set up right -= they bridges subtitles as well!! one thing that I did in the 1990s was t get the same architectures (and thus kit) in every BBC National or Regional site - there were many odd routes etc and even odder and antique kit!
National And Regional subtitling - Only the nation play out programees - so prepared subittles was probably about early 1990s but each nation did their own thing - Live/ Real time subtitles - i seem to remember that Scotland DIY ....
But it was the Mid 1990s That all Nations and Regions - at the same time as we moved to Newfor not ???(cannot remember from Screen ) as the Line protocol
The NTA happened at a time when lots was happening - but it was designed arround manual delivery of the subtitles files on the new EBU3264 spec on 3 inch disk not Propriatory Screen Subtitling systems on 8 in disk.
then had their metadata checked and were logged into the MAM and loaded onto a server which then the playout suite would associate with a particular VT and rehearse. (for Cost and other reasons the TX inserter was on the suite output so key Preview monitors had their own inserters and these output additional info like in and out times and File name !) as the source VT was cut on air the Teletext Subtitle Transmission system TSTS would rapidly download the file to the TX inserter (while the inserter output a Verbose clear down ( 8/0 /888 with clear bit set and then every row of text in the page) so half a seconds worth!) No subtitles would stick!!!
NUDGE - if a programme had a bit cut out for legal reasons - you don't want the subtitles for the cut bit to go out! - IF the edit had been done just be assembly editing everything onto a new tape all was well- there was discontinous time code - so there was both better time code reader (It was VITC not LTC ) and a blanking process so you did not get the "Bond Film" catch up effect ... But if they had got continous time code it did not line up with the file - so the engineers on cue put a great offset ( the duration of the cut out piece) into the time code for all subtiles..... via the nudge panel .- which was more mundanly used when there was a second or two error between the file and the tape . The TX Inseter also did live subtitling
Before the NTA opened the manual Input from 3 in disk was replaced by FTP from Subtitling - this made another key feature easier - Late delivered programmes -
here you would start with say the first five minutes subtitled - and then very four minutes you would get another few minutes from one of Three subtitlers who were working on say 5 minutes with say 30 sec overlap
and it would work with either a growing file or just the 5 minute parts! with a growing file it was easy you just loaded it .... the parts you had to time your reload - a bit like changing Film Reels.
DTA had a different architecture with a PC which was used to load the subtitles from the FTP point (which was monitored by the MAM, to each of the inserter on set of 4 D beta machines so as you loaded the tape you found and loaded the file. There was a nudge avialable on the PC - But the problem was not as pressing as subtitling had higher quality. These inserters output two page 888s the subtitle on line20/333 and the Preview in/ out file name Programme name/ Number on Lines say 10/323 and 11 /324 - it also output Time code in the header so taht inteactive TV Engines could lock to the programme! (Used about once!)
A Preview monitor would see both while the suite output went to a Police unit which blanked the lines 10/323 and 11/324 and More - and put subtitles on lines 19/332 to 21/334(itv) on line 20/333.
The Police unit also checked that there were subtitles incoming - If not alarm and put a Single height top right 888- , if for some reason a programme scheduled for subtitle had not file received it would put out one of four pre programmed Apology subtitles - for a pre programmed time and is no subtitles scheduled a Single height Top right 888- and it did a verbose clear down at the end and start of every item (so clearing any reagsional opt out) and In extremis it could live subtitle - But most live/ realtime subtitling done at source in News and came into the DTA with the video - but a late delivery Programme could be subtitled as it went out
and when the Regional BBC 1 started it also carried the AFD information - as the Video MPEG decoder in the regions did not decode AFD so we used Teletext to do it! - and this was the same box MRG DTP800 used for the prepared File subtitles and Real time /live subtitles in any SDI environment
Last edited by Technologist on 12 May 2020 9:47pm - 2 times in total
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bluecortina918 posts since 26 Jul 2012
Sorry it is compliment of 22 which is 335
I used to be very good at adding 313 to any number !


Yes, I recall we sort of discussed this before. On ITV line 22 was ‘quiet’ but it’s partner line 335 was not so designated and could (and was) used. But then it all got a bit hazy and I don’t think we got to the bottom of it. In my mind I think I decided ITV line 22 was ‘quiet’ within the ITV network but might/could have been used on air as ITV would not have been concerned. I think you were hoping to chat to George ‘can’t remember his surname’ of the ITCA Labs if you saw him to get a definitive answer maybe. Would be nice to get it cleared up.
noggin14,939 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Technologist - you may be able to answer this...

When I was on holiday in Sweden in the mid-to-late-00s I took a DVB-T USB tuner with me and captured some quite low level information about the DVB-T transport streams and the PIDS in use, I think using TSReader. I remember being really surprised that one of them had a Teletext PID stream with "BBC Scotland" labels somewhere in it. (I was wondering if the BBC had sold off or temporarily hired some DVB text inserters for DSat to bridge the move to PQ, or if they'd sold some off and a Swedish operator had bought one...)

As that particularly DVB-T tuner and laptop had never been to Scotland or tuned a BBC Scotland DSat broadcast I was kind of intrigued...
Markymark8,194 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
Technologist - you may be able to answer this...

When I was on holiday in Sweden in the mid-to-late-00s I took a DVB-T USB tuner with me and captured some quite low level information about the DVB-T transport streams and the PIDS in use, I think using TSReader. I remember being really surprised that one of them had a Teletext PID stream with "BBC Scotland" labels somewhere in it. (I was wondering if the BBC had sold off or temporarily hired some DVB text inserters for DSat to bridge the move to PQ, or if they'd sold some off and a Swedish operator had bought one...)

As that particularly DVB-T tuner and laptop had never been to Scotland or tuned a BBC Scotland DSat broadcast I was kind of intrigued...


It may well have been demo kit, that the BBC had borrowed, and then it had been loaned out to SVT? It's very common for manufacturers to not factory default kit when turning it around!