Go Compare-style Portal For Post Production Possible, Say DPP

​Trading and booking post production resources could be streamlined by an online comparison service, similar to how many of us search for car insurance, according to British industry alliance Digital Production Partnership (DPP). It is conducting research into the future of production and has already sized up implications of digital tools for content creation, programme distribution and the business model that has cemented post house and producer relationships for years.

“We feel we are entering the biggest moment of potential change in how programmes are made for a decade,” explained Mark Harrison, Managing Director, DPP. “If you are starting out now as a content maker you would not have grown up in the established TV culture of linear broadcast. Consequently, you would take a very different approach to how to make content. You would use web-based editing tools and cloud storage. You would likely shape your finished output using a range of non-geo-specific services. And of course you might be publishing direct to the web.”

Perhaps most fundamentally, the trading relationship between facilities and content producers might change.

“You would likely shop around for these services using the web rather than running or ringing around Soho for the best deal,” Harrison suggested. “I can imagine a time when even makers of high-profile, long form programming might seek to identify – and buy – all their creative services for dubbing, grading and finishing through a Go Compare-style web portal. The question is how far away this is.”

Harrison added that such a scenario did not mean that craft talent would go unvalued. “On the contrary, craft talent will remain extremely important at the higher end. It is just whether the buying model, and the way content is delivered, might start to move online.”

These ideas will be detailed by the DPP in a far-reaching report it is announcing the start of today as part the organisation's 2016 road map.

“We're looking at the extent to which digital tools are now becoming appropriate to the broadcast domain and how it will fundamentally shift the way we position product,” he said. “It is about the opportunities that now exist to use internet-based production tools but also the opportunity to create audio visual content for suppliers and distributors other than mainstream broadcasters. Market distribution is much more diverse now and tools and technologies are beginning to much more diverse.”

The DPP won plaudits for its remarkable smooth oversight of a file-based delivery standard into UK broadcasters which has been in train for over a year.

Other aspects of its 2016 road map includes a version of the AS-11 delivery specification for North American broadcasters and collaboration with the EBU on a common international programme mastering format.

“There is a lot of support for an international exchange of content and with the EBU we can try and ensure this comes about more quickly,” he said.

Earlier this year the DPP became a limited company and introduced a fee structure for members, which was somewhat controversial among post production facilities which felt that they had contributed enough investment in new equipment, plus feedback to the DPP, to get file-based delivery up and running.

As a result, the DPP dropped a proposal to introduce a Kitemark (certification) endorsement for post firms in March.

“We've always prided ourselves about the benefits of our work to the whole industry and now we have members we can interact with directly,” Harrison said. “The quality of insight and engagement they give us is second to none, and so it feels as if giving us [their participation] gives us that extra relevance.”

He continued, “By being part of the DPP you get to shape [the future]. The quality of insight members are getting into the industry is enormous. They get that insight very early.

“We are the only organisation that can bring all the parts of the supply chain into a room together at the same time to share insight into how to integrate change or create market opportunities that nobody else can bring. That's the thing our members tell us is important to them.”

Since introducing fees, the DPP has collected 48 paying members including UK broadcasters (including BBC, ITV. BT Sport, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5 plus nations broadcasters STV, TG4 and UTV with Fox); vendors including Sony, SAM, Vizrt, Tektronix, Ericsson, Suitcase TV and Fujitsu; service providers Deluxe, Sohonet, Aspera, Screenocean, Dock10 and Arqiva and a handful of post production facilities including Envy, Deluxe brand Encore; Gorilla TV and The Farm.

Annual fees for a UK broadcaster are £25,000; for service companies or kit vendors up to £4000 depending on turnover; and up to £4000 for facilities depending on turnover. 

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