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SMPTE, IRT Team for IMF Plugfest

Multiple plugfests planned for UK and L.A.

London, UK & White Plains, NY (May 21, 2018)—SMPTE and the Institut für Rundfunktechnik (IRT) are collaborating on a face-to-face Interoperable Master Format (IMF) plugfest to test the ability of vendors to create and play interoperable IMF packages.

Scheduled for May 29 at the IRT in Munich, Germany, the event will be held as a meeting of the SMPTE Media Packaging and Interchange Technology Committee (TC-35PM) Plugfest Drafting Group. IRT is the research institute of the public broadcasters of Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

A second face-to-face IMF plugfest, also organized by SMPTE, will take place October 18-19 in the Los Angeles area. To facilitate broad industry participation, SMPTE has scheduled the event before the SMPTE 2018 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2018), which will be held October 22-25 at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles.

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While SMPTE has organized several IMF plugfests in recent years, and various industry groups have organized their own IMF plugfests, this event will be the first collaborative IMF plugfest. The SMPTE-IRT plugfest also will be significant in that it will bring together a variety of international content providers, distributors, broadcasters and vendors.

First standardized by SMPTE in 2013, IMF provides the media and entertainment industry with one interchangeable master format with a defined structure for the distribution of content between businesses around the world. Based on the SMPTE MXF standards suite, the format specifies how video, audio and data essence—plus dynamic metadata—can be wrapped in MXF and synchronized using an XML-based composition playlist (CPL) to create a media program, such as a movie or a television episode, in multiple versions and languages. In turn, the IMF can be fed into a transcoder to create a wide variety of deliverables.

In April of this year, the UK-based Digital Production Partnership (DPP) proposed an IMF profile as part of its delivery specification for broadcast and online.

During the SMPTE-IRT plugfest, IMF packages will be created by multiple vendors’ devices using agreed-upon test vectors and supplied source material spanning several IMF applications. A package created by one specific device will be tested by all other participating devices to verify whether or not the packages can be processed correctly and produce the same results. In the process, issues will be noted and solutions proposed that can be used to inform IMF users, as well as clarify or update the existing SMPTE standards.

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Ahead of the SMPTE-IRT plugfest, a “virtual plugfest” will be conducted to allow vendors the opportunity to work with the source material ahead of time in their labs. More than 16 organizations have registered to participate in the face-to-face plugfest in Munich. SMPTE-IRT Plugfest results will be anonymized before being shared with SMPTE TC-35PM members. Individual results of a participant may be provided to IRT members at the sole discretion of each participant.

Brian Vessa of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is the SMPTE IMF Plugfest committee chair, with David Deelo, also of SPE, as co-chair. During the Munich event, SMPTE Standards Vice President Bruce Devlin, TC-35PM Chair Pierre Lemieux, and other SMPTE subject matter experts will discuss the nature of IMF and the format’s relevance to industry workflows and business models.