Making The Most Out Of Time With Time Tailor

Visual Data Media Services is a Burbank-based company in the business of re-editing TV programs and already-completed movies to reduce runtime for rebroadcast in the syndication marketplace. They’ve worked on hit shows for many of the major studios and distribution companies, along with many high profile movies.

Carefully removing content and reducing runtime while maintaining the integrity of the original program or movie is a demanding process requiring careful attention. Everyone involved in a piece’s creation, from producer to director to star, and ultimately the viewer, wants the work broadcast as it was originally intended. Visual Data’s livelihood depends on keeping all these parties happy.

Traditionally, there have been two main methods used for reducing a program or movie’s runtime to fit into a new time slot: straight edits and varispeeding.

The problem with straight edits is that it’s extremely time consuming with editors typically removing 10 to 20 frames at a time in addition to cutting entire scenes, thus compromising the integrity of the program or movie. With this type of editing, the original closed captioning is lost and must be recreated, thus increasing the program or movie’s time in post.

The varispeeding method, essentially increasing the playing speed of the program or movie, removes a maximum of 4% of the runtime. Like straight edits, the varispeeding process can’t maintain the closed captioning, plus there is reduction in the viewing quality through changes in the audio pitch and visual artifacts.

To minimize the time intensive process of repurposing media for the syndication market, Visual Data now relies on Prime Image’s Time Tailor Post, making time-reduction easier, faster and more efficient. With Time Tailor Post’s ability to remove frames automatically and undetectably, the program or movie’s content integrity is maintained since the need to cut scenes has been eliminated. Also, with Time Tailor Post, closed captioning is preserved as well as pre-formatted commercial black slugs. The Time Tailor Post system can also remove unwanted commercial slugs and/or create new ones.

“We used to take an episode, edit it over a few days, then bring it back to the client. They would have to sit and watch it again to decide whether it was satisfactory or not. Now, they see how fast it’s done with high quality results, and realize they don’t have to be concerned,” said John Trautman, president of Visual Data. “They know it’ll be exactly the way they want it and they’re free to concentrate on other projects.”

Prime Image engineered Time Tailor as a solution to traditional time reduction problems. Through Time Tailor’s patented time reduction process, intelligent algorithms select and remove redundant frames leaving no visual artifacts. Another benefit of redundant frame removal is seen when working with footage that was produced on film and transferred to video. Time Tailor Post can easily remove the extra video frames created by 3/2 pull-down when transferring 24 fps film to 30 fps video.

Programs can now be time reduced in as little as a single night. Plus, the approval periods have been greatly reduced as well. In most cases, once the studio sees a piece that has been time reduced for rebroadcast using Time Tailor Post, they don’t need to see future projects.

A typical removal rate is 1-3%, and the maximum would be 5-8%, which is rare and aggressive, but still not noticeable. Operation is simple with users selecting the new runtime, down to the second, and then running Time Tailor Post. The process occurs in real-time in a single pass.

No scenes are deleted through the process and the finished product is returned running at the precise length specified by the producer. Once original setting choices are made, all changes are made automatically.

The system is highly configurable with software flexible in terms of user preferences. Through the Time Tailor Post’s Fastrack TT graphical timeline editing user interface, the system can be programmed to time-reduce specific segments while leaving others unaltered. For instance, an editor might not want to alter a piece of music where the listener might pick up any changes made. This can be done in as many reduction percentages in as many segments as desired.

While Visual Data uses its Time Tailor Post system for repurposing, the system can be used at the local level to add additional commercial time to rebroadcasts of local news programs, bringing in additional revenue to a station.

“To sum it up, it’s about saving original content,” said Trautman. “Visual Data’s Time Tailor Post time-reduction process guarantees a higher quality end product without loss of content in less post-production time, so the directors are happy, the actors are happy, and the viewers are happy.”

Rob Farren is the managing editor. He can be reached at