The adoption of file-based programme distribution by UK broadcasters continued during August with the BBC implementing an automated delivery and acceptance procedure based on TMD’s Mediaflex asset management and ingest system. This complies with specifications laid down by the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) and replaces an interim manual workflow introduced by the BBC to meet the October 2014 deadline for moving to data delivery of broadcast material.
Together with ITV and Channel 4 (C4) the BBC is a founding member of the DPP, which has drawn up guidelines for configuring and transferring files containing both video and audio information. These specifications are being used by all UK broadcasters, including Sky, BT Sport and UKTV, as well as the founders of the DPP.
TMD, which is exhibited at IBC 2015, was commissioned to produce a system that would deal automatically with not only the programme material itself but also the metadata identifying the content, how it should be dealt with and what QC tests it has passed. To meet these requirements TMD's Mediaflex system was selected to handle production chains that can be configured and work with other software programs.
These include the Interra Baton automated QC package, which is used to check material complies with DPP rules; Telestream Vantage for producing proxies; and AmberFin iCR to deal with any problems in file formats. All these interface with Mediaflex using APIs (application program interfaces), with Signiant Agents used to move or copy files that are prepared for transmission to the right storage area.
In the case of the BBC these include in-house pre-broadcast servers and the broadcaster's contracted playout service, provided by Red Bee Media (part of Ericsson). When material arrives at the BBC it is automatically routed to watch folders, where Mediaflex reads the DPP metadata and creates the correct production chain. This information is also checked by the BBC Media Services team.
Once a programme has been transmitted it is moved automatically to a specified storage area dictated by the TX As-Run log. Commenting on the implementation of the automated system, Marina Kalkanis, director of platform and common services at the BBC, said, "On 24 August 2015 we switched to an automated and resilient method of receiving digital files and retaining them for our digital archive and a mechanism for delivering them to playout. We already have more than 2500 file-delivered programmes in the Mediaflex system. This is a great achievement by a dedicated team from the BBC, working in close co-operation with TMD."
During this year's IBC several new members of the DPP were present, including Fujitsu and communications and uplink provider Arqiva. The DPP reviewed the progress on establishing a common Ultra HD standard on Sony's stand on 12 September. The following day Ericsson hosted an event at the Conservatorium Hotel to highlight the publication of a new DPP document and provide a discussion on updates on the partnership with the North American Broadcasters Association.
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