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What’s really going on in the industry?

What’s really going on in the industry?

What’s really going on in the industry?
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015

My inbox is a confusing place before a trade show. I get sincere emails asking if I’m interested in a drone-mounted 3ME Production Switcherand familiar emails asking when is the last time I considered networking my toaster and water cooler to save BIG on my IT infrastructure. The reality is that prior to a great trade show like IBC, I want to see a glimpse into the future; I want to know what’s really on the radar in our industry, not what happened in the past, or some mumbo jumbo about unrealistic technological achievements.

I am personally very lucky that I spend quality time with the folks who set the standards in SMPTE, because this is one place in the world where the future of the industry is hammered out in detail by tiny detail until a picture of the future presents itself like some due process Rorschach test. With the permission of SMPTE’s Standards Vice President Alan Lambshead, here’s a little glimpse of some of those details that you’ll get to see in the weeks, months and years to come.

UHDTV – Images

Ultra High Definition TV – it’s more than just 4k pixels. In fact, SMPTE has published a number of standards including ST 2036 (parameters) and ST 2084 (Perceptual Quantization High Dynamic Range) that define how the professional media community can create pictures that give consumers the WOW factor when they upgrade. But 

there’s a lot more to come. How do we map all those pixels onto SDI, 3G SDI, 12G SDI, IP links and into files? SMPTE is actively looking at all thoseareas as well as the ecosystem needed for High Dynamic Range Production.

Time Code

Oh Time Code. How we love you. Possibly the most familiar and widely used of all SMPTE’s standards, it needs some major updates to be able to cope with the proposals for higher frame rates and other UHDTV enhancements. Beyond Time Code, however, we have the prospect of synchronizing media with arbitrary sample rates over generic IP networks. SMPTE is working on ways of achieving just that, and it means that proprietary mechanisms won’t be needed. That also means different vendors kit should simply work!


I’ve written and lectured extensively about IMF’s ability to help you manage and deploy multi-versioned content in an environment of standardized interoperability. As this toolset for a multi-platform ecosystem rolls out into the marketplace, the specifications are continually evolving with the developing needs of the market, as well as with the needs of individuals on the design team who influence the feature set.

UHDTV – Immersive Sound

I remember back in the 1980s at the BBC, when we proved that great sound improves the quality of pictures. These fundamental principles never change and the desire to create immersive audio-scapes through the use of many channels, objects or advanced sound fields requires standards to ensure that all the stakeholders in the value chain can move the audio from capture to consumption whilst creating the immersive experience we all strive for. SMPTE is the place where that future is being recorded today.


The humble caption file. Internationally it is nearly always legal to broadcast black and silence, providing that it’s captioned. There’s really only one international format that can generate captions and subtitles without proprietary lock in, and that’s TTML. SMPTE is active in the use of TTML in the professional space and its constraints for IMF. Whether your view on captioning is good or bad, TTML is the only open show in town and SMPTE’s helping to write the script.


What? Apple disclosing ProRes? Yes, it’s true. As the world requires more interoperability and better visibility, the excellent folks at Apple have created a SMPTE Registered Disclosure Document describing the way that ProRes appears in files.

One file format may not seem like a big deal, but the fact that SMPTE is the place where companies that are serious about working together write down the technical rules of engagement is exactly what makes SMPTE the perfect place to plot trajectories for the future.

To quote one of my intellectual heroes, Niels Bohr, “Prediction is difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” SMPTE won’t tell you the future, but by participating, you’re more likely to spot the trajectories that will hit and those that will miss.

If any of these topics interest you, excite you or put you into an incandescent rage of “How Could They!”, then you are able to participate in 3 easy steps:

  1. Join SMPTE
  2. Add Standards membership from your My Account page on the SMPTE site
  3. Register & turn up in Paris to the meetings on the 16th Sept 2015 
Until then, you can always check out more visions of the future on our blog or find out all about IMF on the Dalet Academy Webinar Replay on YouTube.

Now, where’s my drone-mounted Mochaccino maker? Until next time…

Posted by Bruce Devlin

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