Extraordinary IBC 2012 Gathering Yields Unprecedented Standards Collaboration Across Media Ecosystem, Speeds Key IP-Related Initiatives


AMWA, EBU, IEEE BTS, NABA, SMPTE, VSF and WBU organizations pledge to meet regularly, coordinate efforts, and accelerate foundational FIMS and MXF standards development


White Plains, NY, 8 October 2012 – As the use of Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks for real-time workflows accelerates, the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE), the worldwide leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the media, entertainment, communications, and technology industries, the European Broadcast Union (EBU) and the Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) are intensifying their collaboration with other industry organizations to coordinate efforts and to simplify an increasingly complex – and interconnected – digital landscape.

The effort already has accelerated two key initiatives with cross-industry application: the Framework for Interoperable Media Services (FIMS) and the Materials eXchange Format (MXF).

That acceleration was the outcome of an extraordinary meeting held at IBC 2012 between  executives representing the SMPTE, EBU, AMWA, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Broadcast Technology Society (IEEE BTS), North American Broadcasters Association (NABA), Video Services Forum (VSF), and World Broadcasting Unions (WBU).

“This is a who’s who of leading broadcast organizations focused on one thing: coordinating our standardization efforts as critical shifts and evolutions emerge across all sectors of the motion-imaging industry,” said Brad Gilmer, AMWA executive director. “I’m pleased to say that we’re already making advances on two key efforts – FIMS and MXF.”

“Just as important as working together, these groups are also committed to creating educational opportunities for the next generation of talent who will provide leadership across the digital media ecosystem,” said Hans Hoffmann, head of the unit on Media Fundamentals and Production Technology in the EBU Technology and Development department and SMPTE vice president of standards.

Leaders of Industry Organizations Praise Effort

Leaders representing media enterprises and industry organizations spanning the digital media ecosystem praised the joint meeting convened during IBC 2012 – and also emphasized the critical role of collaboration in accelerating globally compatible standards and ensuring industry health.

“VSF's contributions to the SMPTE 2022 video transport standard shows the value of collaboration between industry organizations and standards bodies,” said Richard Friedel, president of the VSF and executive vice president and general manager, Fox Networks Engineering and Operations. “VSF fully supports the coordination of industry efforts as the media business continues its move into a connected IP-based world.”

IEEE and WBU leadership also praised the proactive effort between the different associations following the IBC gathering to accelerate their collaborative efforts.

"The global distribution of content has long demonstrated the inherent weakness in incompatible standards. Digital technology provides the opportunity to eliminate many of these,” said William Meintel, president of the IEEE BTS. “Meetings like the one held at IBC this year help to establish the relationships, share knowledge, and encourage collaboration necessary to reach consensus and create globally compatible content and standards."

"Cooperation between broadcasters, technologists and standard setting bodies has never been more important. Education, defining requirements and speaking with a common voice will help us all adapt and thrive. We are pleased to be a part of this cooperative initiative,” said Robert Plummer, vice chair of the WBU and NABA technical committees.


FIMS: Moving Toward Cross-industry Standardization

The concept of FIMS is straightforward: as digital tools become more widely used in broadcast, production, post production and archiving, broadcasters need to ensure that they can communicate easily while avoiding unnecessary tasks and redundant operations.

The FIMS specification was initiated as a joint project between the AMWA and the EBU and supports content stored as files transmitted around IP networks. At IBC 2012, FIMS was approved as an EBU Technical Document and an AMWA specification. Both organizations then announced that they will jointly submit the work to the SMPTE as a Registered Disclosure Document (RDD) as a step toward standardizing the FIMS specification. SMPTE will begin its review of the document in October 2012 and expects the process to take about six months.

MXF for Versioning (AS-02)

MXF, like FIMS, takes aim at interoperability but from the content side. Often described as a wrapper it allows, among other things, a file to be passed among multiple video editors without an operator having to worry about the format in which the file was originally created. It is the result of a collaborative effort between manufacturers and industry, standards organizations, including the Pro-MPEG Forum, the EBU, and the AAF (Advanced Authoring Format) Association (now the AMWA).  

As new digital devices and formats continue to proliferate, there is a need for MXF to keep pace. Thus the new MXF for Versioning specification (AS-02) helps overcome issues associated with the lack of a common file format – particularly issues related to codecs and essence – in facilities that need to handle many input formats and create multiple output formats.

At IBC 2012, the AMWA agreed to submit its work on MXF for Versioning (AS-02) to SMPTE as an RDD.

For more standards updates, read the September issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, available in the SMPTE digital library at http://library.smpte.org

Updates on SMPTE Standards:  2012 SMPTE Annual Technical Conference

More updates about standards, as well as foundational technology initiatives across the broadband, broadcast, and cinema industries, will be shared at the 2012 SMPTE Annual Technical Conference, which takes place 23 – 25 October in Hollywood, CA., USA. A special pre-conference symposium – High Frame Rates for Digital Cinema – will take place on 22 October. Registration and program information are available at www.smpte2012.org.

As the premier event for motion-imaging industry, the annual SMPTE conference enables technical and high-level business professionals hear from and engage with academic, engineering, executive, and standards thought leaders across the broadcast, cinema, and IT industries.

The SMPTE Annual Technical Conference lives up to this standard, with scheduled presentations from the BBC, Belden, Cisco, Dolby Laboratories, Ericsson, FUJIFILM, Harmonic, Harris, HBO, IBM, Microsoft, NHK, NVIDIA, Motorola Mobility, Qualcomm, Snell, Skywalker Sound, Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Technicolor, and Verizon. Also participating will be leading vision-science researchers from around the world – as well as representatives from the EBU and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.