AHRQ Publishing and Communications Guidelines

Appendix 5-B. Technical Guidance for Deliverables for AHRQ AV Products

Table of Contents


Acceptable Video Formats
Acceptable Audio Formats
Audio Transcripts
Additional Information 


Before producing a video or audio product for AHRQ, please provide the following information in an email to MultimediaSupport@ahrq.hhs.gov.

  • A brief description of the project.
  • AHRQ lead or program liaison.
  • Timeline for the project.
  • Intended acquisition format and resolution (the type of camera/format that describes the quality of the image being acquired).
  • Intended method of distribution (YouTube, Web, hospital TV system, etc.)

Videos or audio products produced on behalf of AHRQ should be delivered in a high-quality file format that can serve as the Agency’s master copy, from which all other formats will be created, converted, or compressed. If your final product will be posted on YouTube, please ensure that your deliverable meets the requirements of the YouTube Video Submission Checklist, which can be found in Appendix 4-B.

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Acceptable Video Formats

Exports and master files are the final deliverable files that will be used to show video across multiple distribution channels. A high-quality master output should be in the original project resolution (SD, 1280×720 HD, 1920×1080 HD, 2K, 4K) and in an acceptable high-quality file format (e.g., MOV, MP4, AVI). Some examples of acceptable formats and their specifications include the following:

  • DVCPRO50 (SD only).
  • ProRes 422, ProRes 422 HQ, ProRes 4444.
  • Avid DN×HD.
  • Animation codec.
  • Uncompressed.

These should be delivered in either a QuickTime (.mov) or .avi container.

All compressed outputs must include mobile, Web, and DVD versions.

  • Mobile and Web formats must be encoded with the H264 codec, preferably in a QuickTime container (MP4 is also acceptable).
  • WMV and Flash files must be encoded to the specific projects requirements.
  • DVD outputs must include all media needed to burn additional DVDs; for example:
    • MPEG and AC3 files for SD DVDs.
    • H264 and AC3 files for Blu-ray Discs.

Uncompressed video shot in Standard Definition (SD) is acceptable. In some cases, and for certain types of video, SD may be the only option. Uncompressed files will be large and likely require delivery on a thumb drive, external hard drive, or via download from a passcode-protected URL link to a private FTP site.

Note: The number of frames per second (fps) you shoot will depend on whether the completed video should look more like film (24 fps) or videotape (30 fps). Work with your AHRQ program or task order officer to make this determination.

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  • Under Section 508,1 all video recordings created with government funding must include closed captions before they can be posted, shared, or displayed for public viewing.
  • Section 508 requires an equivalent experience for all users. Users should be able to follow the dialog and action in a multimedia file as it occurs. Captions must be a word-for-word transcription of the dialogue AND must include written description of any action that cannot be readily understood, such as doorbells, ringing phones, or ambulance sirens. Captions must be timed to coincide with those events as they occur.
  • To be 508-compliant, the transcript must be time-coded and delivered to OC in a Word or .txt file. It also can be delivered in an Excel spreadsheet that includes time codes and captions. An example of the format for a time-coded transcript is below:

    DR. DOE
    So, we'll start today with brief remarks from each of our distinguished experts and then move on to answer your questions.

  • In some cases, a video may be purely visual (with no audio or narration) in order to illustrate a procedure or show a model. In those cases, the video is not multimedia as defined in Section 508 and the caption must describe the visual or action so that users understand what is being shown.
  • In some instances, such as when the primary language is not English, AHRQ may require open captioning in English. In that case, the delivered master must have open captioning.

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Acceptable Audio Formats

Vendors delivering audio-only products (e.g., podcasts) should provide outputs for delivery in two formats:

  1. Compressed .MP3 format for distribution
    There are two sets of quality settings depending on whether the product is primarily spoken word or contains a large amount of music:

    1. Spoken Word Program:
      1. Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz.
      2. Channels: Mono.
      3. Mono Bit Rate: 96 kbps (Note: Some compressors only offer a Stereo Bit Rate setting, in which case the rate should be 192 kbps).
    2. Music Program:
      1. Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz.
      2. Channels: Stereo.
      3. Stereo Bit Rate: 128 kbps.
  2. Lossless .WAV or .AIFF format for archiving and future recompression
    (The settings below are minimum requirements; if the session was mixed at a higher quality (e.g., 48kHz sample rate or 24 bit depth), use the higher setting):

    1. Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz.
    2. Channels: Stereo or Mono, depending on the type of product outlined above.
    3. Bit Depth or Sample Size: 16 bit.

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Audio Transcripts

In addition to the audio files, vendors must provide a word-for-word transcript of what is said in the audio. If there are added sound effects, the transcript must provide some description of what that is. For instance, if a doorbell rings, the transcript might say doorbell rings.

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Additional Information

Any questions about AHRQ's technical requirements for video deliverables should be sent to MultimediaSupport@ahrq.hhs.gov.

 1. Section 508 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998. For more information, please check out Section 508 Law and Standards, Making Files Accessible, Myths and Facts about 508, and the HHS page with Section 508 guidance.

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Page last reviewed June 2018
Page originally created April 2009
Internet Citation: Appendix 5-B. Technical Guidance for Deliverables for AHRQ AV Products. Content last reviewed June 2018. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/research/publications/pubcomguide/pcguide5apb.html