Security key management has been the bane of digital cinema. It is a time consuming process that benefits those who can charge for it, and is a waste for those who must pay. Those who must pay include both distributor and exhibitor, each of whom ends up paying for time spent managing the things.
This publication has praised Fox many times for pursuing improvements to the FLM and a straight-forward means for communicating it. In December, Mike Radford of Fox introduced its mate, the Theatre Key Retrieval method, or TKR.
TKR is the KDM retrieval proposal from Fox. It’s based on a number of important concepts:
- The digital cinema server retrieves its KDM from a content-owner-designated host server.
- The TKR eliminates the need for site identifiers in KDM management. By retrieving the KDM, vs having a distributor push the KDM, the only location information needed is that for the content-owner-designated host server.
- The data pulled is a KDM Bundle (a SMPTE standard). The bundle contains all KDMs associated with the media block and content.
- The TKR host address information (URL) is contained in the composition playlist (CPL) of the content.
- Only HTTP (web) protocols are employed. The host site is a web server. The digital cinema server functions in a manner similar to a web browser. It can be readily implemented by anyone.
It’s a clever scheme, simple as well as elegant in both concept and implementation. Part of its elegance is the use of standard off-the-shelf web tools. By using proxies and mirrors (more commonly found web tools), most problems imagined can be solved. This appears to include the use case where multiple KDM-makers exist for the same CPL.
The TKR proposal is a great way to end 2011. While this may take a year to vet, and even longer to document and propagate around the world, its elegance should make it easy to do so. The combination of TKR with the FLM will not only help the Hollywood studios reduce their costs of managing distributions, but it will also help independent content producers distribute widely without the need to expand their operations. Finally, some light can be seen at the end of the tunnel.