Mark this date in your diary: On 30-31 May 2017 the EBU will be holding a free workshop on the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) in Geneva, open to all members. Why? The EBU wants to help its members understand what the IMF is and how the format could be of benefit to broadcast workflows and business systems.
Three use cases
The workshop is organised by the EBU IMF for TV group and structured around three primary use cases for broadcasters: Incoming – buying content from distributors; Outgoing – versioning, selling and distributing content; and Archiving.
Frans de Jong (EBU) emphasizes the need for a better understanding of IMF: "We noticed that many broadcasters have only a limited understanding of the Interoperable Master Format. That's unfortunate, because the format has serious potential to improve broadcasters' workflows – something many of our members are interested in. So we organized a dedicated workshop to help broadcasters position the format for themselves."
Beyond the Codec issue
Codecs seem to always take centre stage and it is the perceived lack of support for the most commonly used broadcast codecs that many cite as the reason IMF “is not for our organisation”. Broadcasters tend to use high quality mezzanine codecs in post-production and local distribution, such as ProRes or H.264 (broadcast profiles) and like to avoid unnecessary transcoding. The workshop includes an update on IMF and Codecs but also goes beyond that. It will explore all benefits as well as potential drawbacks IMF has for broadcasters.
Andy Quested (BBC), the Chair of the IMF for TV group says, “I believe there is no need to reinvent the wheel here, IMF is already closely aligned with broadcaster needs for mastering and versioning, especially for international exchange”. He goes on to say, “Many of the new proposals are also a 1:1 fit with broadcaster requirements. So what we really need to do is literally sit the IMF workflows on top of our existing content infrastructures.”
The EBU IMF Workshop will offer a mix of hands-on exercises and classroom sessions with lots of opportunities for informal discussions with colleagues and experts. As an extra incentive to sign up, there will be a unique live performance of Bruce Devlin (MXF and IMF expert). Frans de Jong summarises: "We have managed to attract the top IMF experts and provide a context for a relaxed two days of learning. I believe this unique event will mark the future of IMF for European broadcasters."