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    Making a Global Impact Through ISO/TC 36 – Cinematography

    August 26, 2021

    SMPTE was appointed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to serve as secretariat (effectively the committee manager) for ISO/TC 36, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) group dedicated to motion picture technical standards, from production through to exhibition.

    ISO/TC 36 develops international standards to make sure that a digital file for a movie can be played just as easily everywhere in the world today as it was to play 35 mm film everywhere in years past. Well-known and long-established ISO standards specific to motion pictures focus on specifications for the different gauges used in the film industry, and how each film gauge is shot and projected in theaters. The most recognizable developments coming out of ISO in recent years are the digital cinema distribution and playback standards.

    A due process organization made up of members that represent more than 100 countries, ISO develops international standards in a broad range of topics. ISO/TC 36 works to ensure interoperability across the worldwide motion picture industry. Representatives from standards bodies in China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, the U.K., the U.S., Russia, and many other countries come together to develop fully international standards that can be referenced by national bodies and governments. In its role as ISO/TC 36 secretariat, SMPTE not only takes part in this process, but also has the opportunity to make sure that standards developed at SMPTE have meaning on a larger, global scale.

    Standards are a necessary part of the global media ecosystem, and as the world gets more complex and more technical, standards become that much more important, and that much more difficult to create. The contributions of SMPTE staff and the many SMPTE members who volunteer their time and expertise to standards development help to bring clear, concise, unambiguous technical specifications to ISO’s standardization work.

    SMPTE brings valuable institutional knowledge to standards development for cinematography, and through its leadership role with ISO, the Society truly is a global force. This is true not only in terms of standards work, but also with respect to nurturing a strong pipeline of current and future motion picture technologists. The Society’s commitment to fostering diverse volunteer participation benefits standards development across SMPTE, and across the greater global standards development community.

    SMPTE’s work is done by individual members who volunteer their time to influence the global standards for cinematography. If this appeals to you or your company, please consider joining SMPTE and participating in standards development. Options to join as an individual or to  join as a company are available. 

    Andy Maltz

    Andy Maltz is the Senior Vice President, Science and Technology Council at Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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