The DPP (Digital Production Partnership) has “no intention of taking over Europe”, let alone the world, however that has not stopped the world looking on with great interest and, in most cases, with great admiration. Models established for the UK media industry by the DPP will undoubtedly be adopted across the globe and that makes the announcements made during the DPP event at IBC highly significant:
Notably, the host of updates to the file delivery specification, which will be the preferred method of delivery to UK Broadcasters from 1st October 14, includes, perhaps controversially, the deprecation of the XML sidecar.
The DPP Technical Standards for file delivery, and the AMWA AS-11 specification on which they are based, specify that the descriptive metadata shall be stored within the MXF media file. Previous versions of the DPP specification have also included the requirement for an XML sidecar, carrying the same descriptive metadata, resulting in a duplication of the metadata. Removing the requirement for the XML sidecar greatly simplifies management and manipulation of the media as the descriptive metadata is no longer stored in multiple locations.
A single storage location for the metadata facilitates easier interchange and interoperability and reduces the risk of erroneous or incomplete metadata. However, many file-based delivery operations have become dependent on XML sidecars to ‘register’ the receipt of media.
This sidecar-driven registration of the media file is unlikely to go away for some time, but the inclusion of the DPP metadata within the media file itself means that the sidecar can become focused on transactional and operational, e.g. QC (quality control) metadata, which have equal inherent value as descriptive metadata (in some cases having a direct relationship to revenue) but are of a much more transient nature.
The perpetual nature of descriptive metadata means that it’s natural home is within the media file. Until such time as an infrastructure exists for the exchange of transactional metadata associated with the transfer of media files between facilities, the only practical home for this data is in a sidecar.
For now at least, the sidecar lives on!