The EBU has published Technical Report 040, an evaluation of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) for use by broadcasters. The report is the result of work performed in the EBU IMF-TV group with support from the Digital Production Partnership (DDP) and North American Broadcasters (NABA).
"Not on the radar"
The report concludes that "currently IMF is not on the radar of most EBU members", especially because most broadcasters do not have complex versioning requirements and use codecs (e.g. AVC, DNxHD, XDCAM-HD, and ProRes) that are currently not standardised for use with IMF. However, the format is seen to have strong potential for future media workflows for a number of reasons, including:
- the growth of OTT offerings. IMF delivery can reduce costs for broadcasters in this domain, especially when multiple OTT platforms are involved
- the (currently ongoing) addition of ProRes as a codec in IMF. For many broadcasters currently using ProRes this will eliminate the need for another transcoding step
- the definition of a side-car mechanism (also ongoing) that allows additional files and data to be associated with IMF, allowing broadcasters the option to use the format with their own data models and associate related content in a very flexible manner
- the flexibility IMF offers to add increasingly relevant access services (such as subtitles) to their content
The report concludes the EBU IMF group should next focus on making sure that all main broadcaster requirements are supported in IMF applications and on providing assistance to Members who want to use the format to solve workflow problems. This may be done by supplying test material, by sharing best practices on legacy format support and transformation, and by providing an overview of products that already support IMF.