I know, I know. In the days of digital media, we shouldn’t have to worry about video being broadcast safe. Well any video with an ounce of professional quality will abide by NTSC standards.
Why? Because some networks still broadcast so you don’t want any junk or artifacts (aka ‘clipping’) to appear if your whites are too white or blacks too black. You’ll know it’s not broadcast safe when your video scopes show levels of red, green, or blue less than 0 or over 100. Besides that, in any other medium it just makes your video look good. And consistent.
Video editors came at Final Cut Pro X with a lot of hate when it first came out. But I’ve always loved it. One of the reasons is because of how easy it is to apply a broadcast safe filter to your clip. I’m going to show you in FCPX, but the principles are the same whether you’re working in Avid, Premier/SpeedGrade, or Da Vinci.
1. The hardest part is getting your workspace set up. First, go to your Viewer’s View menu, drop down and select Show Video Scopes.
2. Click the Settings button (the gear icon), and I like working with the Waveform scope and the RGB Parade channel.
3. Make sure the Inspector is open.
4. Make sure the Effects panel is open.
5. The Broadcast Safe filter is found in the color tab.
6. Choose a clip from your timeline that needs to be made broadcast safe.
7. Click and drag the Broadcast Safe box over the clip you’re working with on your timeline. Release.
8. Look at your video scopes. Does all color fall between 0 and 100? Awesome. You’re done.
9. If necessary you can adjust the Amount: the strength with which the filter is applied to your footage. Switch between NTSC (North and some of South America and Australia) and PAL (Europe and Asia) color standards. Or switch fix methods. I always leave set to Reduce Luminance because that’s what we’re most often solving for. I’ve never had a use for Reduce Saturation.
That’s it! Easy as pie. In editing or color grading software other than Final Cut Pro X, this will take you a little longer. I can’t think if any instance where you wouldn’t want to make your projects broadcast safe. If for no other reason, do it to add a touch of professionalism to your work.
Shout out to my former co-workers! Especially Rose Kavata! RIP.