As SMPTE embarks on its second century, it continues to address the evolution of the media business through standards work and collaboration with other industry organisations, writes Barbara Lange.

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), the organisation whose standards work has supported a century of advances in entertainment technology, celebrated its centennial last year and is now looking toward the next 100 years.

Barbara lange

Since its founding in 1916, SMPTE has received an Oscar and multiple technical Emmy Awards for its work in advancing moving imagery engineering across the industry. SMPTE has developed thousands of standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines, more than 800 of which are currently in force today.

These standards promote interoperability between systems and manufacturers while providing end users with a broad choice of products. An average of 50 new standards documents are generated each year focused on cinema, television, internet video, audio and associated metadata.

The Society’s global membership today includes more than 7,000 individuals — approximately 15% of whom are located in European SMPTE Sections including Nordic, Germany, Poland and the UK — who volunteer their time and expertise to standards development and educational initiatives.

A partnership with the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) connects SMPTE and its membership with the businesses and individuals who support the creation, production, and distribution of media content.

As SMPTE marks the beginning of its second century, it continues to address the evolution of the media business and the tools and workflows supporting it.

The Society has recently published two reports:

  • Time Code Summit Report: findings on current user requirements
  • MXF Time Code Study Report: facilitates a more efficient use of Time Code in Material eXchange Format (MXF)

Both reports offer valuable insights into how the SMPTE Time Code standard (ST 12-1 Time and Control Code) can evolve to serve as a more useful tool in media production. The reports are now available at

The SMPTE Standards Community has also been working to complete and publish the SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards, which allow for separate routing of video, audio and ANC data flows over professional IP networks in real-time to support broadcast production and playout applications.

Several of the T 2110 standards documents are nearing completion, and publication via the SMPTE digital library is tentatively slated for later this year.

SMPTE will host a session here at IBC2017 on Monday, 18 September, which will address the potential and practical implementation of ST 2110.

Industry experts including SMPTE Fellow Thomas Edwards, vice president of engineering and development at Fox, and SMPTE president Matthew Goldman, senior vice president of technology at Ericsson, will provide an overview of the ST 2110 standards suite and describe how the tools within it can be used within an infrastructure of networked specifications to achieve agile and flexible solutions for professional media live production.

To see ST 2110 in action, show delegates can also make their way to the IP Showcase, which will feature more than 40 vendors in a demonstration of interoperability based on the standards suite.

SMPTE also recently announced that it will be working with the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) on a joint pilot specification project to create an Interoperable Master Format (IMF) specification for broadcast and online.

SMPTE ST 2067, or IMF, is a global standard for the file-based interchange of multiversion finished audio/visual works.

The joint pilot project will deliver a technical specification for IMF in broadcast and online applications as a breakdown of different elements — video and audio packages, composition playlists (CPLs), and output profile lists (OPLs) — with references to all relevant SMPTE standards.

Once complete, this material will be made available to manufacturers so that they can design and build readers, writers, and analysers.

The draft and final proposal stages will move forward in conjunction with a series of plug-fests and product tests.

”The final publication of the IMF specification is expected to take place before the 2018 NAB Show”

SMPTE specifications join the family of SMPTE technical publications, including standards, which help manufacturers, engineers, and technologists to develop new products and services in broadcasting, cinema, and online.

Shortly following the IBC2017 show comes the SMPTE 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition.

This year the Society’s signature event will take place 23 to 26 October in Hollywood, California. In addition to an expanded exhibits floor, the event will feature a daylong symposium on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, three days of technical sessions, a student film festival, the Annual Awards Gala, and a beer garden.

Later this year, SMPTE will introduce a high-quality, full-colour hardcover book documenting its history. “Magic & Miracles: 100 Years of Moving Image Science & Technology” will feature more than 350 pages of historical photographs, insider stories, and milestone events. The commemorative book covers technological developments from the perspective of SMPTE contributions, with first-person descriptions of significant works and activities.

As it enters its second century, SMPTE continues to shape the next generation of technology and provides education for the industry to ensure interoperability as the evolution into IT- and IP-based workflows continues.

Barbara Lange is SMPTE Executive Director and a member of the IBC Board