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  1. #1

    How does a VCR 'know' when to skip a commercial?

    Greetings,

    We were having a few beers over the weekend and we were discussing why commercials are louder and who is sexier Marianne or Ginger etc.

    We found the answer to the commercials "loudness" on this forum but

    How does VCR know when it is taping a commercial and to skip it?
    It can do this with 100% reliability!

    My buddy said it is packet sent down before the commercial from the braodcaster but I think this is nonsense.
    I think it is because the commercial is taped on a different frequency.
    Any ideas??

    BTW: Marianne

  2. #2
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Ok, guess I'll take a stab at this.

    I've known about this option/feature of commerical skip recording some time ago but haven't heard much about it since. Is it still around in new models or just in the old ones? I think the broadcasters put the squeeze on the manufacturers (who happen to make some broadcasting equipment - how ironic) to discontinue this option/feature based on during the actual broadcast, no piece of equipment was to omit/reject commericals on the fly BUT the shows could still can be recorded, then edited without commercials. The broadcasters felt it was their right to broadcast in entirety. Well so much for a bit of history.

    As far as I know, there are no special signals or frequencies sent by the broadcaster used to activate the stop recording of the vcr. However, from what I recall, the machine senses how long the amount of black and silence is being aired and stops the recording. I think it's the user who determines how long the recording skip lasts. Of course, it's part of the show, it will still activate because there is no other signal confirmation.

    If I'm wrong I welcome any corrections.
    SC358
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

  3. #3
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    I think you've got it pretty much right SC358.

    I am aware of two types of product which hit the market:

    (1) Commercial Skip. This is a function which allows you to fast forward in set amounts at the press of a button. The idea is that most commercials are 30 seconds long, so you can FF in chunks of a few commercials at a time.

    (2) Commercial Advance. This is a feature which records a program, then goes back and sets index markers at the beginning and end of each commercial break (by identifying the fades to and from black). When you play the tape it automatically skips the commercials.

    This is the same technique broadcasters often use to trigger the commercial breaks. At the last station I worked for we had an auto-commbreak feature which threw in a comm break whenever the vision mixer went to black - this meant that if we lost our normal video source a comm break would kick in while we figured out what was wrong.

    There have been a number of legal issues around using this sort of technology in the home. I won't go down that road here (it's a long story) but recent models of some machines have dumped the commercial advance feature for legal reasons.

    As for the idea of sending ID signals from the broadcaster to help this process, I believe the idea has been tried but met with too much opposition from program producers. Remember that free-to-air television relies almost entirely on commercials to pay for the programs. Any technology which makes it too easy would mean the death of free-to-air TV.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  4. #4
    Thanks for posting guys,

    Interesting stuff. I never considered the legality.
    So to summerize,
    1. index markers are sent by the broadcaster (rarely).
    2. The VCR indexes based on fade to black.
    3. The VCR assumes 30 second intervals.

    Why can't it be done on the fly? Legally, I am sure there is a full-time team on this issue, but techically is it possible?

  5. #5
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    Thanks for posting guys,
    Sweet.
    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    Interesting stuff. I never considered the legality.
    Very few people do think about it. It's actually a fascinating subject if you're into this sort of law. Basically program makers never bothered to fight the original technology which allowed people to skip ads (ie the fast forward button on VCRs) so they are now having a hard time fighting the latest technology since it's really only an advancement of what was already there.
    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    So to summerize,
    1. index markers are sent by the broadcaster (rarely).
    I would say probably never. I know it was experimented with but I don't know if any broadcasters ever got as far as using it in a production environment. I could be wrong there though.
    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    2. The VCR indexes based on fade to black.
    Yep. Although there could be other technologies as well, this is the one which has been widely used to identify comm breaks.
    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    3. The VCR assumes 30 second intervals.
    Yep. Remember that this is a different type of "commercial removal" feature to the one above. I also note that it's becoming more common to see commercials which aren't the standard lengths, which would obviously make this feature less useful.
    Quote
    Quote: Portnoy
    Why can't it be done on the fly? Legally, I am sure there is a full-time team on this issue, but techically is it possible?
    If you mean add the index markers as the recording is taking place, I can't see any technical reason that it can't be done. However doing it after the recording would have some advantages and be more accurate.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  6. #6
    Andy
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    I live in the uk and on certain channels a small rolling black and white box appears in the top right hand corner, i think this is used by some VCRs

    I never really thought much about it, i always thought a change of frequency or something to that effect would tell the VCR when to stop/start recording

  7. #7
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Ok - that puts a different type of spin. My knowledge and background is here in the U.S. and as far as I know, there is nothing used in regards to skip recording. I know very little about other broadcast systems.
    SC358
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

  8. #8
    Administrator Dave's Avatar
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    Yes that is interesting. I wonder what that is exactly.

    I do feel that it's unlikely that any television channel would purposely hurt their only source of income though. Advertisers would be unimpressed to see the channel helping their customers to avoid seeing the ads they paid a lot of money for.
    Dave Owen
    MediaCollege.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member SC358's Avatar
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    Well put, Dave.
    SC358
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. - Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus

  10. #10
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    does anyone know of any capture software that includes a filter to skip ads because i capture a lot of TV using my computer and its quite time consuming editing and re-encoding the program i record to edit out the ads.

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