Not for the first time, I’m guilty of using the term revolutionary in association with the Digital Production Partnership (DPP). No, I have not been reading too many subversive texts – it is the simple truth that this UK-based initiative leads the world in supporting the widespread adoption of digital file-based workflows:
It has the potential to revolutionize workflows – including those between organizations as well as within the organizations.
DPP draws on industry experts from the worlds of technology and broadcast production to help fulfil its remit. It has been successful in establishing a road map in digital production in the UK. The move to complete file-based workflows represents a tremendous opportunity for production companies and their clients alike.
There is considerable scope for liberating the creative process from the craft technologies that characterized tape-based production. The future will be one of ubiquitous access to content, with an ability to view that content on standard devices (be they laptops, tablets, computers or smartphones), and seamless movement of content without the need for dubbing to tape.
The Importance of Metadata Processing
In a file-based workflow, the largest single source of cost saving is automation – the creation of systems – be they media ingest or media transcode – that are capable of making decisions based on metadata. In this environment, it is logical that the better the quality of the metadata, then the better automated decision-making systems that work from that data.
Every operator, working at every stage of the workflow benefits from superior quality metadata. The best quality metadata is front-end loaded. DPP has focussed a great amount of effort on standardizing interchange metadata. More than half of the pages in the technical specifications within DPP focus on metadata. Within DPP, metadata is not regarded as just a technical nice-to have – it embraces the business of exchanging content, the human psychology of interacting with that content and recognizes the importance of the man-machine interface.
For production companies, a well thought through, end to end, file-based workflow can:
- reduce the cost of material (no more tapes, DVDs and couriers)
- reduce timescales (with less time spent on ingest and dubbing to tape or DVD)
- give their creative staff more control of the process (with their material on hand, and shape-able, from anywhere, at anytime)
- maximize the use and reuse of expensively acquired material (by making it easily searchable and retrievable)
Much like the world of consumer digital content, the content owner can shape, copy and distribute – even if an understanding of the underlying IT infrastructure that makes it possible remains for the specialist.
For service providers, such as post-production facilities, a fully digital production environment offers potentially new markets in media management and storage, and more business in content distribution where the use of web tools lower the cost of sending and processing content for customers both domestic and international. A failure to provide such facilities may encourage larger production companies to invest in the underlying infrastructure themselves.
For broadcasters, many have already moved, or are in the process to moving to end to end file-based working—thereby saving time and money, and simplifying the distribution to multiple platforms in multiple shapes. They will be expecting their suppliers to support these new workflows. The introduction of tightly coupled and interoperable metadata with the essence brings the prospect of transactional file based interchange that can dramatically reduce costs of multip-compnay workflow.
The opportunities presented by file-based working are focused on reducing cost and time and increasing flexibility. In practical terms this means that the opportunity on offer is competitive advantage. For production companies this means being able to get more out of shrinking budgets, more throughput from existing staff and easier access and delivery to more customers.
The key to ignition for this slow-moving revolution is the acceptance by all concerned of the day to day realities faced by the production communities, and an understanding of where and how the benefits can be identified and achieved. Out of understanding and adaptation can come opportunity. We’re using technology to solve business problems. The DPP organization and format is just the beginning…