Innovate UK
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ZOO Digital tames the data jungle

The potential nightmare of the complex data attached to the making of every TV programme and cinema film has been turned into a sweet dream for a young British software company.

Not only has ZOO Digital of Sheffield achieved its targets for a brand new data management system – it has accidentally invented a workflow model that nobody had thought of before.

Both ZOO and the Technology Strategy Board had realised that metadata is the key to allow the different components of a media asset to be tracked and managed. By 
working on this ZOO also realised that by designing it into the workflow, the workflow itself is improved.

'It's brilliant – a real eureka moment – and it was all made possible by Technology Strategy Board funding and support – it is because they believed in us,' said 
Stuart Green, Chief Executive Officer of ZOO Digital. 

‘We had the idea, but needed extra technical skills and a better understanding of the marketplace in order to develop a successful product. Our involvement with the Technology Strategy Board didn't just involve cash - it caused us to pull together partnerships to make this happen – and now they have a success on their hands,' he 

Smooth journey for media files

Over the years, ZOO Digital has developed a suite of programs that help make the creative and production processes more efficient.  
‘We support collaboration and automate production, enabling organisations to co-ordinate and manage their resources, their media files, round the world. We've become very accomplished at understanding the dynamics and politics of this process,' says Stuart.
‘When movies and TV series are being prepared for a worldwide market their data files can be massive with multiple variants. You might have 50 or 60 different language editions, each with different versions - then there could be a range of formats such as DVD, Blu-ray - and iTunes packages to buy online. Video files would be separate from audio, which in turn could be stereo or surround sound. 
‘All sorts of individuals and organisations may be involved in the production process, including product managers, marketeers, translators, graphic designers and subtitle writers. 
‘And all the marketing and product packaging has to be localised for versions round the world in an ever decreasing time frame - ensuring everyone has the latest edition and version with so many permutations is a potential nightmare,' explained Stuart.
ZOO Digital focuses on smoothing this process, and ensuring that, for example, a Blu-ray disk bound for Brazil has the Brazilian Portuguese rather than European Portuguese, or that a film for Europe has British English subtitles rather than American English ones. 
Stuart Green with ZOO Digital app
‘It's not just films. For other creative material, too, particularly when people need to give their feedback and opinions, or review material and mark it up, you need a strict process to ensure people's voices are heard and can inform decision-making.
‘There are many parties in the value chain, including studios, post production facilities, authoring houses and electronic retailers,' explained Stuart. 
‘And the one thing they all have in common – and the reason for the existence of ZOO Digital – is metadata – data about data. Metadata could be information about a movie, title, characters, actors, director, date released, film classification, synopsis of story, version number, and which audio file it goes with.
Click here for the full success story and further information.

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