At the start of June, we heard that the IBC has short-listed BT Sport, Timeline Television and ourselves for the IBC Innovation Award under the Content Management category. This is a good reason to celebrate – in short-listing our submission IBC is recognizing all the effort made making sure that BT Sport’s new production facility in London complies with the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) file-based workflow specifications.
If we are fortunate enough to win, then the award will be very timely since it will highlight the importance of the DPP initiative just ahead of its self-imposed deadline. From October this year, the uptake of a common file formats for HD and SD content delivery among UK broadcasters, first agreed in principle over two and half years ago, looks set to become a reality.
What does the DPP deadline mean?
The deadline means that UK broadcasters now require all content to be delivered by UK program makers digitally using AS-11, the internationally- recognized standard that constrains SMPTE’s MXF from the Advanced Media Workflow Association.
Any suppliers still delivering content on tape this autumn, however, are unlikely to be shown the door, according to Kevin Burrows, DPP’s Technical Standards Lead, who is also CTO for broadcast and distribution at UK terrestrial broadcaster Channel 4. There’s not going not to be a cut-off date as such, but it will depend on what the suppliers’ contract cycle is with the broadcaster. But the rules will apply to all new TV shows, he explains.
The last update to the main spec (Version 4) was announced in October, and according to Burrows, while there is still some fine tuning to be achieved in relation to the QC process, the UK TV industry is pretty much there in terms of nailing the standard.
As with any standard, there are inevitably areas that will need to be clarified. As we have previously stated on this blog, if you take all the combinations of wrappers, video codecs, audio codecs, track layouts, time code options, metadata and other ancillary data and complete a ‘minimal’ in/out functional test matrix then you end up with a test plan that will take at least 1800 years to complete.
It can be argued that this is true of any standard ever tested. If you tested every possible function on Windows software then it would take the same amount of time. DPP should be applauded for trying to keep it simple. There is an HD standard and an SD standard. In terms of metadata, what Kevin and his DPP colleagues have tried to do is constrain it greatly; and yes, language can be misinterpreted, but they are aiming to make the process and the standard as constrained and bombproof as possible to minimize errors, yet with enough flexibility and versatility to be commercially useful.
Plan your DPP deployment with time to rehearse
October will be upon us before we know it and whilst the early adopters such as BT Sport are already reaping a rich dividend from their investment it is still not too late to start your DPP adoption strategy. If you’re wondering about solutions to the following functions:
- Ingesting tapes to the DPP delivery specification
- Transcoding files to the DPP delivery specification
- Building QC workflows to verify your files meet the DPP delivery specification
- Editing DPP metadata in a busy environment
- Exchanging DPP metadata in a MAM environment
Then you should know that AmberFin is one of a group of vendors that has developed a sophisticated portfolio of DPP-supporting production tools to help you find the solution for you.