SMPTE Speeds Up Standards Development with Technical Specification Process

The SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) has responded to demand for faster development of key standards aligned with emerging business processes by establishing its Technical Specification process.

This reflects the much faster pace of business and service development in the era of online distribution and hybrid broadcasting, calling for much greater agility and rapid evolution of features. It has also been driven by the increasingly global nature of video services, requiring common international standards for content distribution.

At the same as launching the process the SMPTE has announced the first standard to be developed inside it, the SMPTE TSP 2121:2018 IMF Application DPP (ProRes) for mastering and international exchange of content. This was proposed by the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) and builds on the existing Interoperable Master Format (IMF) developed by the SMPTE under its normal standardization process, for streamlining the distribution of premium feature film content. The DPP was formed jointly by the UK's public service broadcasters to help producers improve efficiency and value of digital television production.

IMF Application DPP (ProRes) enables the content supply chain to be more fully automated without generating multiple versions unnecessarily. It also boosts workflow efficiency, easing the burden of quality control and archive storage management, according to the SMPTE, while preserving quality of the original asset throughout the cycle. This should also cut costs and time involved.

The new process was hailed as opening a new era for the SMPTE by its Vice President Bruce Devlin, keeping it at the forefront of media standards development. “Specifications are part of SMPTE’s new future” said Devlin. “With IMF Application DPP (ProRes) we are starting a new chapter in SMPTE’s activities to encourage global interoperability, and to foster the emergence of new and stable technologies.”

The SMPTE Technical Specifications process was inspired by a growing need to match emerging standards clearly and accurately to business requirements, before setting them in stone. By publishing these requirements, it is easier to identify that Technical Specifications are aligned with very specific needs. As with all business requirements, they are likely to change over time and publication reflects the reality that they tend to have a faster life cycle than full standards. The process is executed using a Study Group collaborating with a Drafting Group under a Working Group focused on the overall task.

The SMPTE stressed that it has nothing to do with commercial business requirements associated with pricing and market share, in order to meet US, EU and global anti-trust laws. At the same time it emphasized that the new Technical Specifications would not replace the classical full standards.

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