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By Julian Richards, Dec. 2006

The media and entertainment industry is in the middle of a transition from yesterday’s manual, physical, broadcast world to tomorrow’s fully-connected digital world. HP Labs has played a central role in this transition through the development of its Digital Media Platform.

The HP Digital Media Platform provides a comprehensive technology foundation to support file- and network-based media workflows. Drawing on a service-oriented approach, the platform enables the integrated media storage, processing, management and distribution services and solutions that automate the digital supply chain.

HP Labs worked with others in HP R&D and HP business units to develop the Digital Media Platform technology and the vision that is helping the industry reap the benefits of the digital revolution – flexibility, efficiency and the ability to open up new markets for digitized film, video and TV.

Now, members of the Bristol (U.K.) research team are joining HP's Digital Entertainment Services (DES) business as its core R&D team with the goal of helping expand the business.

Digital media supply chain

DES is applying HP Labs technology to create the digital media supply chain services that major studio and content publishers can use to manage, process and distribute their content in digital form. Effectively, HP is building the next-generation digital media "supply chain" for an industry in transition.

The Labs group will be responsible for future DMP technologies to support these new managed services.

"Transferring the technology and research personnel will make the new business even more effective," said Andy Nelson, who led the team in Labs and will continue to do so in DES. Nelson and his team will still work closely with HP Labs, which continues to research digital media management.

Willem de Zoete, vice president Digital Entertainment Services, said that the new team members will be "focused on the next steps to be taken to develop the DMP technology and help drive innovative media services for our customers in the media and entertainment industry."

Origins of the work

The roots of the DMP program go back some six years to the development by Nelson and team of ARKive, an online, non-profit, web-based wildlife repository. For ARKive, described as a digital Noah’s Ark, HP Labs created an advanced system to handle rich media wildlife film clips, sounds, images and the associated information, or metadata, of the world’s endangered species and habitats.

The Bristol team built a system that could manage, store, transfer and transcode these massive digitized TV and video files and make them available for a standard web portal.

After creating the ARKive system, team members began work developing a more sophisticated and automated platform to manage digital content for other industry sectors that regularly deal with very large rich media files.

Deploying the technology

The resulting Digital Media Platform became the foundation technology for a strategic HP initiative to meet the future needs of media and entertainment companies, which have generally been slow to take up, and benefit from, digital technology.

The HP Labs team successfully deployed DMP with Ascent Media Group. Ascent uses DMP to manage and host the digitized movie masters of Sony Pictures.

HP announced DMP at the National Association of Broadcasters Trade Show in 2004, and in 2005 it established the business group that now offers digital media services to the media, entertainment and retail industries.

The Digital Media Platform will underpin HP's Digital Vault Service, which will provide media and entertainment companies with a fully outsourced solution for the ongoing ingestion, storage, processing, distribution preparation, and sales fulfilment of large content libraries.

Flexible, agile and standards-based

DMP is an open-standards-based framework that allows media companies to digitize, store, process, manage, distribute and archive complex media assets securely and efficiently. It provides a service-oriented architecture for rich media applications.

Within the service-oriented architecture environment, the Digital Media Platform also defines common abstractions and interfaces to content repositories and processing services. This means that a range of task-specific applications, such as transcoding, can be plugged in to the platform with ease. The service-oriented architecture approach allows DMP to be flexible and agile in response to a customer’s emerging business needs such as demand growth, new business processes and service opportunities.

For a customer that wants to store and re-use its video content, DMP is a workflow pipeline. It takes in -- or ingests -- rich media files in the form of, for instance, a digitized classic TV show.

As the digital file virtually flows through the pipeline it can be transcoded into a different format, dubbed or subtitled, have a low-resolution version created for a web site, then be securely stored as a master. Finally a repurposed copy of the digital TV show flows out of DMP to the end-user, for example through the DES Video Merchant Service.

Related links

» Digital Entertainment Services
» Feature story: Supply chain for digital media
» Feature story: Movie magic
» ARKive

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