ETC Seeks Feedback for Interoperable Master Format Specifications

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Mon, 09/13/2010 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

The Entertainment Technology Center @ USC is seeking broad multi-industry feedback for the Interoperable Master Format draft specification. Over the last year the ETC@USC has hosted the IMF project seeking to develop a voluntary specification for an interoperable set of master files (and associated metadata) to enable the interchange and automated creation of downstream distribution packages within the motion picture and television production and post-production industries. The participants in the IMF project which include Disney Fox NBC/Universal Paramount Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros. will create a specification that can be proposed to SMPTE with the intention of initiating a formal standards-setting process. The goal is to create an interoperable high-quality set of master files suitable for a variety of distribution packages that can be used to output an arbitrary number of versions for varying screen sizes resolutions bit rates codecs service providers etc. 

 As part of the process of developing the specification the participants in the IMF project are very interested in receiving commentary and feedback on the proposed specification and its contents from companies and individuals within the motion picture and television production and post-production industries technology providers and manufacturers and anyone else who may use or be affected by the IMF specifications under development. Many interested industry technology and solution providers have already provided feedback on the draft and ETC is now looking to widen the net throughout the motion picture and television post-production and distribution industries. “A meaningful and implementable IMF specification is essential to helping content creators and distributors take advantage of ever-increasing opportunities and platforms.  We have reached a critical milestone in this project where we want and need input from a variety of potential adopters of the IMF format. This will allow us to refine the draft specification before it is turned over to SMPTE for potential standardization ” says David Wertheimer CEO and executive director of the Entertainment Technology Center @ USC. The multi-format multi-platform requirements on the media supply chain continue to increase while the delivery time expectations continue to decrease. An industry-standard format that enables media companies to meet these challenges and reduce servicing costs is incredibly important. We fully support that goal says Chris Gianutsos vice president digital growth initiatives NBC Universal.
 “As digital file-based workflows impact all parts of our industry standards for interoperable and efficient digital mastering solutions are becoming critical ” says Leon Silverman general manager digital studio The Walt Disney Studios.  “Only through industry-wide participation can we move this important initiative forward into the standardization process.”
 It's vitally important ” says Steve Rosenberg senior vice president media post-production technical operations Fox “to have available an appropriately set standard for a media container for audio-visual content exchange.  ETC's voluntary IMF specification that has broad studio support will set the stage for that standards setting process at the SMPTE and the efficient delivery of our content to/from our vendor partners and customers.

 Wertheimer says “We are grateful to the industry members who previously signed up as IMF Contributors for their thoughtful feedback. We are now extending the deadline for comments and asking anyone in related industries that wishes to provide comments and feedback to do so by September 25th at”
 Bi-weekly meetings will continue to take place at the studios and at ETC@USC’s Anytime/Anywhere Content Lab in Los Angeles with report-outs and input opportunities for collaborative groups periodically and hopefully a submission to SMPTE in the Fall.