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April 2015

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Page 40 of 51 39 POST APRIL 2015 POST POSITIONS ot long ago, major UK public TV broadcasters typically received programs from their various content creators on Digital Betacam or HDCAM SR tape. It was a tried and true format where they knew exactly what they would get when they hit the play button. Out the back was a nice SDI video signal that they could pipe around the facility in a stan- dard that everyone understood. Similarly, the number of audio channels was fixed with content easily described. One thing they never worried about with tape was the actual digital format of the 1s and 0s. Many content creators in the rest of the world are still delivering on HDCAM SR or similar digital videotape today. Now fast forward to the new environ- ment of "file-based" media. In the file- based world, broadcasters have become exposed to a whole different scenario when show masters are delivered as files. For the first time, they do need to worry about how the 1s and 0s are laid out. What format is this media in? How do they play it back? What equipment is required? How many audio tracks are there? Where is all the information about title, date, episode, part number, etc.? Now media companies are being forced to deal with a massive number of variances in terms of the actual file formats that they get material in, the bitrate that it was encoded at, and the metadata that may or may not be in- cluded with the file. Each and every one of the myriad formats is probably defined somewhere in a document, but despite best efforts, media companies have had a hard time convincing their vendors to provide ma- terial in a specific format. In the UK, the public broadcasters de- cided that they were no longer going to accept this melee of formats and bitrates and metadata schemas. Largely because it was costing them too much money and time to figure out how to decode a particular file and its associated metada- ta, locate or rent the required equipment and standardize a method for QC. So, the major public broadcast companies decided to get together and come up with a specification for the exact format that content creators would have to use to send them media. Having decided to do that sounds simple enough. Making it happen was a very big task, not the least of which being that these companies actually compete with each other for eyeballs. The DPP (Digital Production Partnership,, led by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 with representation from Sky, Channel 4, S4/C UKTV and BT Sport, was thus formed to solve the problem. It was quickly decided that the DPP group wasn't going to specify what the video itself should look like, since other industry bodies already do that. The entity that they decided to partner with was AMWA (Advanced Me- dia Workflow Association, www.amwa. tv). AMWA had already done some work on a contribution specification called AS-11 that the DPP considered almost exactly what they wanted. All of the engineering work had already been done, all the discussions between manufactur- ers had already happened, and so it was a logical and smart choice. What the DPP focused on was what metadata should be mandated to go with the program, such as show title, episode title, date of recording, director name, part number for multi-part programs, how many audio channels, etc. You can imagine that it was a big effort to bring all parties to consensus. They also very clearly specified how the media is to be laid out. Frankly, it looks like a videotape in many respects. So, in essence, the DPP told content creators, "If you want to provide programming to any of the major public broadcasters in the UK, you will provide it in this format or we will not accept it. Oh and you need to do that by October 1st, 2014." IMPACT ON THE U.S. Content creators in the US now have to consider how they are going to get their programs shown by UK broadcasters. At some point, when creating a master deliverable for the UK, someone is going to have to convert or write the program into the DPP format. If the US post house doesn't do this, then some intermediary is going to need to and it's going to cost extra! So, it's important to become familiar with the DPP spec, and if US post houses have any shows going to the UK, they need to be prepared to submit it in the correct format. Systems such as Telestream's Vantage have been creating compliant DPP files from the beginning. The success of the DPP in the UK serves as a model for what can be achieved when companies work together towards a common goal. Anyone undertaking file-based delivery is prone to these same problems. The UK stepped up to the challenge, will we? DEATH TO TAPE — LONG LIVE THE FILE! HOW UK PUBLIC BROADCASTERS KILLED TAPE AND STANDARDIZED FILE-BASED DELIVERY ALMOST OVERNIGHT N BY PAUL TURNER VICE PRESIDENT, ENTERPRISE PRODUCT MANAGEMENT TELESTREAM NEVADA CITY, CA WWW.TELESTREAM.NET The DPP established guidelines as to how content needs to be delivered for UK broadcasting.

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