Key Delivery Message (KDM) management and Composition Playlist (CPL) metadata were the more interesting topics of this month’s ISDCF meeting. In addition, the transition to SMPTE DCP appears to be getting more attention.
CPL metadata is growing. The original metadata patch, stuffed into the ContentTitleText element of the CPL as a text string and called the Digital Cinema Naming Convention, illustrated that the XML metadata built-in to the CPL is not enough. Impressed with this realization, engineers have gone in the other direction of defining a new XML document. The goal of the new document: replace the Digital Cinema Naming Convention with proper XML. It’s an ambitious task, but fairly mature at this point. It has received the benefit of a major distributor whose IT workflow was finely combed to contribute to this draft. If anything is missing, it’s the benefit of a similar study of workflow within an exhibitor. With no exhibitor IT specialists in the room, no contributions are being made. But it appears to your author that the addition of an identifier for the booking transaction would greatly simplify the problem of reconciliation within the exhibitor management system. The CPL metadata documents are posted online at http://mkpe.com/isdcf/.
For the industry to update to DCI-compliant servers, security key management must be cleaned up. Digital cinema players will accept both Interop and SMPTE DCPs. The only way for the system to know that it must use DCI-compliant rules when processing the DCP is through the presence of the ContentAuthenticator element in the KDM. Needless to say, some authoring systems are wrongly inserting the ContentAuthenticator element into KDMs created for Interop DCPs. Receipt of such a KDM will cause the Interop DCP to fail. ISDCF has had a document in draft for some time describing how and when to formulate KDMs. Proponents in this most recent meeting felt that it still needs some work. The latest draft is also posted at http://mkpe.com/isdcf/.
ISDCF has been conducting Plugfests for a few years now, in the effort to bring confidence to the release of SMPTE DCP content. While Plugfests may continue as certain issues receive further attention, in truth, the products tested are good enough to being the transition. The concern, though, has shifted to verifying if the latest software has been installed at every site. With nearly 70,000 systems installed at the time of this writing, it will be impossible to obtain a high confidence level for software updates. The method of testing the readiness of systems in the field, proposed by your author, is to release a trailer in the SMPTE DCP format. Exhibitors should be notified at the time of release so they have the opportunity to monitor the results. This appears to be the generally accepted plan of action at this by time by a few studios. One of these days, one of them is going to flip the switch and start the transition. Stay tuned.