The Oscar® and Emmy® Award-winning Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers® (SMPTE®), a professional membership association, is the preeminent leader in the advancement of the art, science, and craft of the image, sound, and metadata ecosystem, worldwide. An internationally recognized and accredited organization, SMPTE advances moving-imagery education and engineering across the communications, technology, media, and entertainment industries. Since its founding in 1916, SMPTE has published the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal and developed more than 650 standards, recommended practices, and engineering guidelines. More than 6,000 members — motion-imaging executives, engineers, creative and technology professionals, researchers, scientists, educators, and students — who meet in Sections throughout the world, sustain the Society. 

SMPTE strives toward its goal through its Three Pillars:

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

Awards and Honors

On 9 January 2014, SMPTE added another Emmy® to its collection: SMPTE received an Emmy® Award for Technology and Engineering for 2013 by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) in recognition of the Society’s work on development, and standardization of the High-Definition Serial Digital Interface (HD-SDI) standard: Read more

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Oscar® for contributions to the advancement of the motion picture industry (1957).

NATAS Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for the standards work associated with the compatible One-Inch Type C videotape format and for the technical development of the Universal Video Tape Time Code (1974-1975).

Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (ATAS) Citation for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for expeditiously achieving the difficult task of obtaining industry agreement on the One-Inch Type C Continuous Field (1977-1978).

NATAS Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for the standards work associated with the compatible one-inch Type C Videotape Format (1978-1979)

NATAS Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for early recognition of the need for a digital video studio standard, acceptance of the EBU (European Broadcast Union) proposed component requirement, and development of the hierarchy and line lock 13.5 MHz demonstration specifications, which provided the basis for a world standard (1982-1983).

NATAS Emmy® Award for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for early recognition of the need for a component digital video tape recording standard, development of a recording system based on the worldwide standard for digital component sampling, and coordination with the EBU to provide the basis for a world standard for digital component video tape recording (1986-1987).

AMPAS Board of Governors Special Commendation for the contributions of the members of the engineering committees of SMPTE: “By establishing standards, they have greatly contributed to making film a primary form of international communication” (1990).

NATAS Emmy® Award in Technology and Engineering, for development and standardization of digital serial interconnection (SDI) technology for television (1992-1993).

NATAS Emmy® Award in Technology and Engineering, for development and standardization of MXF open file formats for the interchange of video and audio material (2007-2008).

NATAS Emmy® Award in Technology and Engineering, for pioneering development and deployment of Active Format system technology and system local cable ad insertion technology — digital standards for local cable advertising (2010-2011).

U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 2012 Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility, presented to SMPTE for its Timed Text Standard for the captioning of video content distributed via the Internet.

SMPTE and its members are proud of all these achievements. SMPTE’s standards work and its collaboration other professional standards bodies have led to an even more impressive result: a vibrant, growing digital media ecosystem enabled by SMPTE standards.


SMPTE Innovation

SMPTE Color Bars© Television Test Patterns have set THE consistent reference point for more than four decades to ensure color is calibrated correctly on broadcast monitors, programs, and on video cameras and displayed beautifully for consumers.

SMPTE Time Code© gives every frame of video its own unique identifying number, makes digital editing possible, and enables the association of other data to make audio and video even more meaningful, accurate, and repeatable, whether in post for a major studio release, in hard news environments or live sports production. It even synchronizes music and is often used to automate lighting, pyrotechnics, video, and other effects in live concert production

SMPTE Digital Cinema standards — from those for higher frame rate capture and production, with high-performance, fast compression, and pristine projection, to others supporting efficient, interoperable workflows, better security, and a consistent and engaging movie-going experience — ushered in the era of digital cinema and are enabling its rapid expansion.

SMPTE Timed Text© is accelerating the transition of broadcast content to the Internet and makes it more easily accessible to tens of millions of people in the U.S. with disabilities. SMPTE Timed Text is also the basis for subtitles and captions in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s UltraViolet™ format for commercial movie and television content and is used by several video services and Internet video players.

SMPTE Transport of High Bit Rate Media Signals over IP Networks creates a standardized framework for the transport of video over Internet Protocols (IP) networks. This framework is vital for future-proofing content creation and distribution infrastructures as the media and entertainment industries undergo massive transitions to the IP-based enterprises that facilitate multipoint transmission, a critical enabler in monetizing content and advertising in new ways across multiple screens, such as computers, smart phones, and tablets.


SMPTE History

In the early 1900's, the soon-to-be motion picture industry was unorganized, lacking structure and leadership. Equipment was built differently according to each manufacturer, and standard practice was nonexistent.

At the same time, a world war was threatening, and the army saw a need for motion pictures for training and recording military events. The U.S. government attempted to bring order to this demanded industry by creating a body to lead development in motion pictures. The government looked to an inventor from Washington D.C. named C.F. Jenkins to chair the organization. Jenkins had developed the first motion picture projector in 1895 along with Thomas Armat, as well as several unique imaging devices, such as an underwater camera, and a panoramic camera for aerial views.

After two unsuccessful attempts at starting this organization, Jenkins met with two of his close colleagues to discuss a solution. Jenkins, E.K. Gillett, and N.I. Brown gathered on the Boardwalk of Atlantic City one day during the spring of 1915. They discussed past failures to generate an organized group to lead the motion picture industry, while recalling the successes of other engineering societies.

One year later, in July of 1916, the three men along with seven additional engineers met in Washington D.C. A unanimous decision was made to create a society of engineering specialists in the motion picture field. A constitution was then created, and Jenkins was named chairman of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE).

In October of 1916, the group ratified the constitution, established committees, and elected Jenkins as president. The "T" was added to the Society in 1950 to embrace the emerging television industry. Today, SMPTE is recognized as the global leader in the development of standards and authoritative practices for film, television, video and multimedia.

To accomplish its educational goals, SMPTE organizes annual conferences and seminars. It also publishes the highly regarded SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, which is recognized around the world for its well-researched technical papers, tutorials, practical application articles, standards updates and SMPTE Section Reports.