For more than a century, the people of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®, pronounced “simp-tee”) have sorted out the details of many significant advances in media and entertainment technology, from the introduction of “talkies” and color television to HD and UHD (4K, 8K) TV. Since its founding in 1916, the Society has received an Oscar® and multiple Emmy® Awards for its work in advancing moving-imagery engineering across the industry. SMPTE has developed thousands of standards, recommended practices, and engineering guidelines, more than 800 of which are in force today. SMPTE Time Code and the ubiquitous SMPTE Color Bars are just two examples of the Society’s notable work. Now in its second century, the Society is shaping the next-generation of standards and providing education for the industry to ensure interoperability as the industry evolves further into IT- and IP-based workflows.

SMPTE’s global membership today includes more than 7,000 members: motion-imaging executives, creatives, technologists, researchers, and students who volunteer their time and expertise to the Society’s standards development and educational initiatives. A partnership with the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) connects SMPTE and its membership with the businesses and individuals who support the creation and finishing of media content. 

SMPTE strives toward its goal through:

Membership        Promoting networking and interaction
Standards           Developing industry standards
Education           Enhancing expertise through the Motion 
Imaging Journal, conferences, seminars, webcasts, and Section meetings


SMPTE® Continues to Enhance the Quality of the Moving Image 

Today, the magic of film and television is half visual storytelling and half technical wizardry. The storytelling part is an age-old art that goes back to the dawn of time before we were cave-dwellers drawing pictures on the walls. The art of storytelling is relatable to many, while the technical wizardry can be much more challenging to understand, though as consumers we certainly appreciate it.

The science and technology of film and television is dynamic. When the camera operator points the lens at the actors, and the director calls for “action,” an intricate chain of events is initiated. When we go to the cinema, switch on our televisions, or watch video on our smartphones, we are viewing the result of an extensive process involving a variety of people and many intricate technical systems.

Most of us may never understand the science behind it all: how an electronic signal gets from an on-location camera to our smartphone. Lucky for us, we don’t have to. Others have worked it all out so that we can enjoy it! And, in support of the wizardry behind it, volunteers from across the globe, continue this significant work within SMPTE.

Corporate members including Apple, Amazon, Blackmagic Design, CBS, Deluxe Technicolor, Disney/ABC/ESPN, Dolby Laboratories, Ericsson, Fox Entertainment Group, Google, Microsoft, NBC Universal, Netflix, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Turner, and Warner Bros. How has the work of these and many other SMPTE members had an impact on you?

SMPTE is a professional membership association of technical geniuses who make it possible for everyone to experience the big leaps in entertainment technology. Thanks to SMPTE’s work, we see ever-more-amazing movies and TV programs, and more of them, and we enjoy unprecedented freedom and accessibility in enjoying that content, whether at the cinema, at home, or streamed to a mobile device, anywhere in the world!

SMPTE® Helps Make Content Awesome!

SMPTE creates the standards that make it possible to view media as the director intended — on any screen, anywhere, at the highest possible quality.

For more than 100 years, engineers from leading media companies and technology suppliers have worked together within SMPTE to create the complex instruction sets that allow key systems — from the video cameras used to capture footage to the displays on which the final programs are watched — to facilitate a seamless viewing experience, whether in the cinema, at a sports or entertainment venue, in the home, or on a mobile device.

See Movies as the Director Intended
More than 30 SMPTE standards and engineering guidelines have enabled the rapid, successful, global deployment of digital cinema, in turn providing a more engaging cinematic experience. While these SMPTE D-Cinema standards have supported advances such as stereoscopic 3D and the use of higher frame rates, the SMPTE Digital Cinema Packaging (SMPTE-DCP) format has brought consistency to use of these technologies that enrich the aural and visual experience of cinema content.

Experience Cinema Sound the Way It Was Mixed
Creating both standards and recommended practices, SMPTE’s Cinema Sound Systems Technology Committee works to improve the quality and consistency of cinema sound continually so that no matter where a film is screened, the audience experience is as close as possible to the sound heard on the mixing stage.

Watch TV and Streaming Video With Accurate Color
The familiar SMPTE Color Bars® Television Test Patterns – now familiar also from the ABC sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory” as well as ads for AppleTV and Nike — have served as the consistent reference point for ensuring that color is calibrated correctly and displayed beautifully, maintaining the intended chroma and luminance levels across various cameras, monitors, and programs across duplication, broadcast, and web facilities.

Enjoy a Better Program or Live Event
SMPTE Time Code® provides every frame of video a unique identifying number, making digital editing possible and enabling data association to enhance audio and video meaning, accuracy, and repeatability, whether in postproduction for a major studio release, in a hard news environment, or in live sports production. Time Code provides event production the additional benefit of synchronizing music to automated lighting, pyrotechnics, video, and other effects.

View Captioning for Broadcast, Theatrical, and Streamed Content
The SMPTE Timed Text® (SMPTE-TT) specifications enable the creation, preservation, and enhancement of captioning that makes broadcast content more accessible to all viewers as content shifts to the internet. Because it is capable of describing current and future captioning requirements, it has been recommended by the FCC as a “safe harbor interchange and delivery format” for internet streaming.

Get Video Made Just for You
Interoperable Master Format (IMF) developed by SMPTE makes it possible for content providers to automatically assemble custom versions for a program or movie-on-demand so that distribution outlets receive the correct language track, video elements, and subtitling — and a host of other elements — in an accurate aspect ratio and format. The alternative? Storage of more than 35,000 possible versions for a single film. Really!

Enjoy Better Content, Sooner
The Material eXchange Format (MXF) is a very flexible file transfer structure defined by a number of SMPTE Standards. It effectively simplifies the use of content by different applications in the production chain. MXF allows facilities that produce programs and movies to be more creative and more efficient in finishing and delivering content.

Experience Better Than Ever Images
Through a series of “Better Pixels” projects, SMPTE is providing imaging a huge boost in quality. Specifications for higher resolutions (4K, 8K), wider color gamut (WCG), higher dynamic range (HDR), higher frame rates (HFR), and better electro-optical transfer (EOTF) functions make for truly stunning pictures on both television and in the cinema!

Watch (or Make!) More Awesome Content
If you watch the HBO series “Silicon Valley,” you know that compression is a really big deal. Enabling more efficient storage and transport of large media files, compression has been vital to the success of products such as GoPro’s compact (and Emmy® Award-winning) HERO® camera. SMPTE’s standardization of the GoPro CineForm codec (encoder/decoder) as the VC-5 video compression standard enables cinema-level acquisition quality while also supporting efficient production of finished content captured in this format. In the consumer realm, compression makes it possible for you to strap your tiny video camera to your dog’s collar or to stream your cat videos on YouTube.

You’re welcome :)

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