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DPP News

First Broadcasters Guide To Digital Workflows

The DPP has today unveiled a major industry report, “The Bloodless Revolution: A Guide to Smoother Digital Workflows in Television.”  The report is the first published guidance on digital workflows to be issued on behalf of ITV, Channel 4 and the BBC.  It seeks to help producers and suppliers achieve a smoother transition to fully digital production.

The new guide follows the publication of the DPP’s report on breaking down the barriers to digital production (The Reluctant Revolution, September 2011). One of the claims made in the first report was that the pace of change in the industry was held back by a lack of commonly agreed ways of working.  It observed that greater guidance is needed if the industry is to complete its move from tape-based to file-based production.

The DPP’s new report now provides such guidance. It sets out to identify the smoothest, most efficient digital workflows for use with currently available technology, while providing sufficient background information to help maintain a view of the wider production landscape.   It also identifies opportunities for collaboration, cost saving, and better creative outcomes.

Helen Stevens, DPP Chair said, “For production companies, a well thought through end-to-end file-based workflow can reduce costs and timescales and give creative staff more control of the process. This new guide offers very clear signposts for programme makers to more easily plan and complete productions in an effective and efficient way.”

Mark Harrison, DPP Lead for Production Futures, added, “In the UK broadcast industry we take huge creative risks – and that is what makes British television punch well above its weight.  But when it comes to changing our production processes we are much more cautious. The DPP would like to think this report will give producers the confidence to get the best out of digital.  After all, creative innovation should be enabled by technology – not achieved despite it.’

The guide sets out a clear high level workflow as a framework for providing information, guidance and direction to digital production workflows.  

The overall process has been broken into four steps: 

Planning – which covers the process up to the point of shooting, including the different conventions and practices that need to be adopted right at the outset;

Rushes Management – which looks at the capture and handling of content on location or in studio up to the point of rushes archive and management; 

Post Production – which goes from the ‘ingest’ of material for editing through to completion of the master: and 

Delivery – the production of masters for delivery to broadcasters, clients or the audience.

The report was commissioned by the DPP from industry analysts Mediasmiths International. Its starting point was the views and experiences offered by dozens of attendees from all over the UK at the DPP’s regular industry forums.

From the outset ‘The Bloodless Revolution’ acknowledges that programme makers have no desire to see their world reduced to a series of workflows. Many may feel that by over-describing the process, the magic of television production will be driven out.

But the report goes on to offer a user-friendly map by which to navigate the potentially complex processes of file-based production – and in so doing offers a guide that, while first appearing analytical, is actually liberating.

“File-based production has the potential to enable greater creativity than ever before,” argues Mark Harrison, “And we believe this guide does much to release that potential. The magic of production hasn’t been lost, it just needs transcoding!”