There are no creative benefits to end-to-end digital workflows – that was the stark message from the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) at last night’s launch of its latest report, the Creative Revolution.

The report - the third in a trilogy which aims to investigate the challenges facing the television industry in the digital age - was written by BBC North controller of production Mark Harrison and produced in association with Mediasmiths International after six months of workshops with indies and broadcasters.

It set out to examine whether the digital technologies that exist today bring any benefits to the programme making process.  

Speaking in front of a crowd of industry professionals from production firms, post production facilities and broadcasters, Harrison said digital workflows and systems that are too inflexible will kill the “messy business” of creativity.

“Are there any creative benefits to end-to-end digital production? No,” Harrison said. “There is no evidence of anything about the continuous journey of a file that in itself delivers any creative benefit.”

While the DPP concluded that there are logistical and business benefits for production companies and broadcasters to develop joined-up, tapeless workflows, it found that if systems were too locked down they could hinder the creative process; the point of being creative is to try something new – including new bits of production kit.

Harrison, the BBC’s lead for the DPP, added: “As a former producer who now tries to drive production modernisation, it felt important to me to gain a deeper understanding of what digital technology really means for our creativity.

“There have been so many bold claims made in recent years – but they never come from real conversations with real content makers.

“The DPP has finally put this right, with a proper, evidence-based piece of work. And the results both destroy some myths, and offer some guidance to what really matters for producers, broadcasters and audiences in a connected world.”

DPP shifts focus to manufacturers

The Digital Production Partnership (DPP) is preparing to shift its focus from the production community and broadcasters to kit manufacturers, as part of its push for fully digital production and distribution.

The BBC’s DPP lead Mark Harrison said the move was one of the outcomes of the many workshops that fed into the group’s ‘Creative Revolution’ report.

“A director who’s had a great idea about a show won’t worry about awkward workflows, they just work it out further down the track.

“But the most helpful innovation in digital production is that which doesn’t create difficulty for the creative,” he said.

Harrison said manufacturers had “gladly” adopted the DPP’s common standard for file-based delivery.

“We now need to look where else in the chain we can apply a similar principle - such as acquisition formats or editing - because that might help creatives.”

Click here for Kim Shillinglaw’s essay on digital creativity.

The full report is available via the DPP website.