Few companies in the broadcast and production field have a richer history than DeLuxe. The company can trace its roots back to 1915 when William Fox opened Fox Film Corp in New Jersey, featuring a film lab as part of the studio. The film lab went on to become DeLuxe in 1919 when Fox Film moved its headquarters to New York. In the years since, DeLuxe has developed some of cinema’s highest achievements such as CinemaScope widescreen format in 1953, and Color by Deluxe in 1967.
The company has proved itself highly adaptable in the digital age and in the past couple of years exited the film labs business in order to focus more on offering a raft of solutions aimed at digital content delivery, including digital cinema distribution. “We had to develop beyond traditional film processing and movies into television, into technology and broadcast,” said Simon McGrath, SVP Deluxe Entertainment Services. “We moved out of film labs and heavily into digital cinema distribution; we as Deluxe are the dominant player in global cinema distribution.”
In April 2015 DeLuxe signed an agreement with Technicolor to create a new digital cinema joint venture, Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema (DTDC), to specialise in theatrical digital cinema mastering, distribution and key management services. The joint venture is intended to bring together best-in-class technologies, personnel, work processes and facilities to provide seamless services to customers on a global scale. “This unit is the market leader globally for the distribution of films (in digital format) to theatres around the world,” McGrath says.
However, McGrath stresses that the unit does more than just distribution; it also helps tailor content for specific regions by localising it with subtitles, audio-description, captioning and more. “We take studio content and major film content and we localise it and transform it, creating what we call Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs), which we distribute to every theatre around the world. That’s quite a large business but it is heavily dependent on the state of the movie industry. It’s a great part of the business but we see the growth being in the supply chain of broadcasters on a worldwide basis,” McGrath adds.
This appears to be a natural avenue for DeLuxe given the company’s skill sets and the rise of OTT viewing platforms. Indeed, DeLuxe’s content delivery arm specialises in packaging content for delivery to any platform, whether broadcast, video-on-demand, mobile or internet. “We are seeing a surge – whether it’s the broadcasters or the platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Google and others wanting more relevant localised content coming on to their platforms, and they all want to automate it. The industrialisation of that on the TV side is being driven by companies like Amazon, Netflix and the major broadcast groups who just want a frictionless supply chain, and we are perfectly positioned to do that,” McGrath says.
Another major area for the company is Deluxe Media Cloud, a service platform that was launched in 2013 and offers various advantages over traditional broadcast platforms. McGrath explains that DeLuxe undertook the development of its MediaCloud platform as a response to challenges that broadcasters and content owners faced in leveraging their brand across the television market place and broadcast value chain. “With Media Cloud increasing the focus on IP delivery of linear streams we are the quiet unknown supply chain player in the middle,” he says.
Paul Wallis, MD Middle East, and senior vice president of Deluxe Media Cloud, added: “It takes away the headache from the broadcaster so that they can concentrate on making their content, doing the user experience, and all the back office work can be left to a company like DeLuxe. We can manage that process for them.”
DeLuxe also sees big potential for delivery of sports and events content. While the broadcast of the world’s major sporting events is usually handled by the organisers, McGrath says there is plenty of business to win for the distribution of additional footage from large sporting events, as well as the distribution of more niche sports. “I think there’ll be a lot of content where the value is considered less than the games themselves and so broadcasters will look to get all of that live content from certain events out, but maybe using slightly cheaper distribution channels, and that’s where we come in. We have a capability within our Media Cloud product line which is best described as OTT CDN, so we use the internet to broadcast live 4K streams in a reliable and high quality manner.”
The company demonstrated this solution at NAB last year and is running it now for live sports events. “The applications for concerts, for music, for politics are really quite high, and fundamentally what we are doing is using the internet as backhaul rather than satellite. You can do all that through your SDN infrastructure. That’s going to bring costs down, it’s bringing the internet and IT to reliable high quality broadcasts,” McGrath added.
Another major area of concern for broadcasters and content producers is security. “It’s a big concern here with anybody moving from an SDI to IP environment. Every broadcaster’s major concern is how their content will be protected. From every cloud project I’ve done, everyone is asking that,” Wallis said.
Security is particularly a concern for 4K linear broadcast, according to McGrath. “We are increasingly focusing on that because one of the things that underpins our company is that we are over 100 years old and one of our specialist areas has traditionally been security, whether that was getting film canisters to a theatre in Japan or, more recently, security of digital cinema.”
This is especially important for OTT delivery, especially with services that allow viewers to download content onto their devices becoming popular. “We are now looking very seriously at the OTT world and into security on your ipad or tablet. There is an increasing amount of download for offline viewing. Netflix has it for some content. You have studios, and content producers doing a lot more technology on it around offline viewing. It’s definitely a focus for us,” McGrath added.