Will this DPP initiative work? Three freelance editors have their say
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Will this DPP initiative work? Three freelance editors have their say

The DPP’s mission

With so many formats and standards used in today’s broadcast industry, it could be argued that the potential of both producers and broadcasters is hindered by this proliferation.

That is why the Digital Production Partnership (DPP), an initiative formed by public service broadcasters based in the UK and Ireland, has been established. It seeks to standardise television’s technical delivery requirements.

The partnership, funded by ITV, the BBC and Channel 4, and with representation from Channel 5, Sky, S4/C, UKTV, BT Sport and the independent sector, is working towards regularising formats and standards throughout the industry in order to process, store and manage digital media through create smoother workflows.

The not-for-profit, founded in 2010, places its work in two main categories – technology and knowledge. On its website, it states: “The aim is always to help producers and broadcasters maximise the potential of digital production for themselves and their audiences.”

Will it work? Freelance editors speak out

But what do those who work on the frontline think of this idea? Is it workable and practical? We asked several professional freelance video editors, who work for a range of clients, what they think of the DPP’s initiative.

“[It’s] a nice idea,” says David Curran, who edits content for Discovery, but adds cautiously, “but with an industry a diverse as ours and with so many different types of media and codecs, written by all sorts of people, good luck with trying to get all parties to agree. It would be good if perhaps the broadcast industry got behind a preferred workflow and all that goes with it.”

Rather soberingly, David describes the idea as “not really possible”, adding: “We will all have to keep learning new stuff if we want to stay working.”

The DPP has seen some success in its attempts to gather industry support, however: UK Screen Association, Creative Skillset, BBC Academy, the Production Managers Association, the Advanced Media Workflow Association, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers have all signed up to achieve what are described as “common goals”.

Another freelance editor producing work for Discovery, Andreas Spanos, feels that the DPP’s aim “would be good although there is very likely the chance that there are still going to be a few differences and a few different formats, so people should be informed as best as possible.”

“Massive ignorance”

Andreas sees “massive ignorance” towards formats on an almost daily basis from people who should know better – including professional editors. He tells us that he witnesses first-hand the “misconception” that Adobe’s Premiere and Final Cut Pro, from Apple, are more format friendly then other suites.

“Basically, you need to know what you are using and what your final product is going to be, regardless of the suite,” he says.

While the goal of standardising television’s technical delivery requirements might be viewed as noble and, perhaps, progressive, clearly not everyone sees it this way:

“I don’t see this as a good idea”

“Personally,” says Seb Boys, a freelance editor whose clients include IMG, Perform, the BBC, ITV, ITN and BSkyB, “I don’t see this as a good idea. If you standardise formats and standards throughout the industry you are only limiting your options in the future. We are pushing technology further and further and who’s to say that we won’t come up with a better way to process, store and manage media immediately after all these standards have been implemented?”

It’s a fair comment.