In February of 2018 the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, the UK Based Digital Production Partnership, the North American Broadcasters Association and the European Broadcasting Union announced they were working together to develop a global Interoperable Master Format (IMF) specification for Broadcast and Online media the TSP 2121-1 – Application DPP (ProRes). Moving fast for a standards committee, this harmonization project includes the development of mutually agreed technical specifications and is on track for publication before the end of this calendar year. Based on the IMF standards specification SMPTE ST 2067, the goal is to agree on and publish a global standard for the file-based interchange of multi-version, finished audio/visual works. The joint pilot project will deliver a technical specification for broadcast and online IMF applications described as the different elements video and audio packages in composition playlists (CPLs) and output profile lists (OPLs). This specification is on track to be published to broadcasters and manufacturers to support the design of compliant systems, applications and analyzers. Supporting the committee documentation is a planned series of plug-fests and product tests.
What does this mean for you? The fantastic news for companies that version and distribute media as well as broadcasters who receive media, is that now the globe is moving to adopt the IMF in media asset management, which means that simple interoperability can be achieved. Starting with the new year, the industry can move toward the exchange of media in a format that is easily transmitted, reliably ingested and predictably modified for further applications or distribution. The result of these efforts is that there will be a new SMPTE IMF application that differs from the most widely adopted IMF application in a few ways, in particular it will call for the use of the ProRes Video format instead of the JPEG2000 format.
However, IMF adoption has been slower than expected, with some companies such as Netflix, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Fox embracing the interoperable specification while other large production and network companies have been reluctant to make their media interoperable or have delayed a decision due to internal business reasons. This move to a global standard will not be instantaneous, which affords you time to plan and adjust your systems to take advantage of the IMF worldwide harmonization efforts.
More importantly, the methodologies underpinning the IMF standards, in particular saving media as components and output definitions like a chef saves ingredients and recipes, have real world efficiency implications for storage, system capacity and the cost of distribution. Broadcasters who have adopted IMF system find they save up to 25 per cent of storage space and capacity bandwidth. Tedial can provide references to support these savings and can help your company adopt true IMF systems and leverage these standards to save you money, time and labor.
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