by Julian Richards, April 2006
As the world of creative media gathers for the annual National
Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show, HP’s digital
entertainment service offerings at the Las Vegas event will
be underpinned by technology from HP Laboratories.
An enhanced version of the HP Digital Media Platform (DMP),
developed by researchers in HP Laboratories, plays a central
role in the company’s Digital Entertainment Services
The media and entertainment industry is facing a rapidly
evolving digital shift as it moves towards new methods of
distribution and storage, new devices and new ways of consuming
and accessing digital video and audio content, including
video on demand, video podcasts, DVR and broadband.
At the same time a dramatic convergence is under way, bringing
together the IT, broadcast, film, Internet, telecom and consumer
To support the increasing prevalence of digital entertainment – from
gaming to film and broadcast – media companies need
a new kind of digital media supply chain so they can take
advantage of opportunities to save money, generate new sources
of revenue and access new channels of distribution.
The HP DMP is one of the innovations offered by HP. With
HP DMP, a digital supply chain can be built by integrating
media storage, processing management and content distribution.
Think of it as a virtual pipeline, with digital packages
of film, video and audio entering through one end.
As the content packages move through DMP a series of pre-selected
actions automatically take place: a video may be re-formatted
for different use; a low-resolution video may be created
for viewing on a web site; still images may be extracted
for advertising; the package may be sent for dubbing in to
a foreign language; then it is distributed to a customer
for broadcast, internet, DVD, podcast, and the like. And
at the same time the original digital file is securely stored
for future use.
It was announced at NAB 2005 that Ascent Media Group had
selected DMP to help its client, Sony Pictures Entertainment,
to create an advanced digital content management system.
Since then DMP has been further developed and extended by
the research team at HP Labs Bristol. The enhancements mean
- DMP is now closely tied to a client’s digital
media business workflow. Instead of issuing instructions
to do a task instructions are sent to DMP, which automatically
carries them out.
- New functions have been added – workflow
edit, for instance, in which an operator can select
sections of a video
feed, edit them together and then store the package for
later distribution to outlets such as the internet, television
and cell phone playback.
- Work can now be carried out globally: content repositories
can be placed anywhere in the world and digital content – a
sports feed for instance – distributed between them.
- System resilience and failure management have been
Demonstrations of the augmented DMP will be shown at NAB,
underscoring the system’s role in the critical digital
media supply chain. These will be a core part of the digital
media services offerings being built by HP for content companies,
distributors, and retailers.
So how does it work? DMP is designed to provide a foundation
for end-to-end digital media solutions as well as hosted
managed services. It allows media companies to use their
existing, legacy software – transcoding applications,
for example – and media storage to enable broader,
more flexible, better integrated solutions for content processing,
management and distribution.
Nick Wainwright, who manages the DMP project at HP Labs Bristol,
explained that a key aspect is a service-oriented architecture
approach. This enables new and existing services to be plugged
in to form a composite, or virtual, application without the
constraints of traditional, packaged applications that were
tied to single servers, systems or platforms. These service
components may then be re-used and recombined to support
other business processes.
DMP allows the creation of media flows that cut across multiple
companies, geographies or even industries. It can connect
content creators (studios), content service providers (post-production
companies), content distributors (broadcasters, telecommunications
providers, portals, cable companies, retail outlets) and
For network operators, the platform can enable the deployment of global distribution
networks that simplify the process of getting content across borders without
Wainwright said: “The unique technical capabilities and characteristics
of DMP allow companies to achieve important business benefits, including increasing
the value of their digital assets, accelerated time to market, reduced costs,
enhanced security and improved flexibility.”
Julian Richards is HP Labs' media relations manager in Europe and the UK.