Digital Production Partnership: Will It Meet Its Deadline?

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Amberfin Cto Concerned By Widespread Lack Of Implementation Strategy: Warns That Dpp Is Not An ‘Off-The-Shelf’ Solution

Last Updated: November 7, 2013 7:45 pm GMT
(Basingstoke, United Kingdom--November 7, 2013) “The Digital Production Partnership’s (DPP) self-imposed deadline where file-based content delivery becomes the preferred exchange format for almost all major UK broadcasters is less than a year away and still most facilities and production companies are a long way from finalizing their DPP adoption strategies,” so says Bruce Devlin, Chief Technology Officer at AmberFin, a company that has developed an area of specialism in the creation and support of DPP-compliant file-based workflows.

Devlin questions whether these broadcast organizations understand the considerable effort required to change working practises and therefore implement the DPP specifications in the period ahead of the October 2014 launch date. The agreement of the DPP’s file-based Technical Standards (released Jan 2012) was not intended to signal an immediate move to file-based delivery. Instead, the DPP has provided clarity around which file format, structure and wrapper will become the expected standard for file-based delivery as it is phased in. In 2012 BBC, ITV and Channel 4 began to take delivery of programmes on file on a selective basis. The aim is for file based delivery to be the preferred delivery format for these broadcasters from 1st Oct 2014.

Less than 12 months ahead of the DPP D-Day, Devlin highlights what he calls an interoperability dilemma. “If you take all the combinations of wrappers, video codecs, audio codecs, track layouts, time code options and other ancillary data and complete a ‘minimal’ in/out test matrix you end up with test plan that will take at least 1800 years to complete,” Bruce Devlin explains. “Even if you constrain this to ‘commonly used’ combinations, by the time you factor in different versions of formats and specifications (we're now on the 3rd revision of the base MXF specification for example), 1800 years is a little on the optimistic side.

“By tightly constraining the wrapper, video codecs, audio codecs and metadata schema, the DPP Technical Standards Group has created a format that has a much smaller test matrix and therefore a better chance of success. Everything in the DPP File Delivery Specification references a well defined, open standard and therefore, in theory, conformance to those standards and specification should equate to complete interoperability between vendors, systems and facilities,” he states. However, theory and practice frequently bear little resemblance. Devlin’s CTO team at AmberFin see two key reasons why the theory and reality don't quite match up.

First, despite the best efforts of the people who actually write the standards and specifications, there are areas that are, and will always be, open to some interpretation by those implementing the standards, and it is unlikely that any two implementations will be exactly the same. This may lead to interoperability issues and the only way to find out is ‘on boarding’ - actually testing real-life workflows. This highlights the importance of planning DPP deployments well in advance of the looming deadlines and allowing for ‘dress rehearsals’ as early as possible.

The second reason is less around files and more around workflow. The simple truth is that the more you constrain a specification, the fewer applications and workflows it can be used in. 11 months before DPP D-day, AmberFin has already been requested to help ‘extend’ the specification to meet the needs of those facilities already planning and/or implementing DPP file delivery.

“The flexibility of AmberFin’s iCR platform in creating additional metadata fields and the ability to display and manage QC data while keeping a core media file that conforms to the DPP specification has been a big bonus to many of our customers,” explains Bruce Devlin. “But while this flexibility simplifies the implementation of DPP-based workflows, deviation from the specification only increases the need for testing and highlights the importance of planning DPP deployments sooner rather than later.

“If you needed any more reasons to getting going on your DPP implementation strategy well ahead of the deadline – next summer is rumoured to be a good one, and if you would prefer to spend August enjoying the British summer sun knowing that come 1st October, everything will just work then you need to plan ahead!

“An enormous amount of work is being done by a great many clever people within various organizations and these operations will be the big winners when D-Day arrives. Other organizations might have fallen into the trap of believing that DPP is an ‘off the shelf solution’ – it is not. If you want to be a part of the DPP revolution you need to start preparing now,” concluded Devlin.

More information on how AmberFin is helping broadcasters, content owners and service providers approach the DPP D-Day challenge can be gained by reading the company’s White Paper - http://info.amberfin.com/whitepaper-dpp

About AmberFin
AmberFin’s business is intelligent media conversion, solving file-based workflow challenges for broadcasters, sports organizations, post-production houses and other media content owners. Scalable, agile and efficient, the Amberfin iCR (intelligent Content Re-Purposing) Platform brings true innovation and cost-effectiveness to the demands of multi-platform delivery, enabling the industry to deal with high volumes and true-to-source high quality pictures at the same time, all with exclusive slim-file technology.

Unique to the iCR Platform, AmberFin’s industry leading approach to Quality Control, known as Unified Quality Control (UQC), introduces a QC mark that brings a new level of trust to media assets. UQC uniquely combines, automated processes that integrate third party verification tools with a human touch, enabling more efficient and effective decision-making and new levels of confidence in the file creation and transformation processes. AmberFin continues to experience market growth thanks to hundreds of iCR systems being deployed worldwide. Systems that are trusted where quality matters by some of the world’s leading media organizations including Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Turner Broadcasting, Canal+, ITV, ZDF, NRK, Nine Network Australia, Discovery and National Geographic. To follow the latest innovations in Broadcast-IT workflow technologies visit blog.amberfin.com

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