Julián Fernández-Campón-IMF
  • The purpose of the third meeting, the first one this year organized by the UHD Spain association has been to cover different issues related to the IMF (Interoperable Master Format) and further explore its potential, when to use it, how it works and the associated standards on which it is based. 
  • The meeting, held in virtual format, was led by Julián Fernández-Campón, CTO of Tedial, and was restricted to members of the association.

The UHD Spain hosted, on the afternoon of January 31st, the third meeting of the association and first of the year, led by Julián Fernández-Campón, CTO of TEDIAL, a worldwide leader in content management solutions designed to maximize efficiency and interoperability, on IMF (Interoperable Master Format).  The main purpose of the encounter was to share his knowledge with the rest of the attendees about this standard.

The private event under the title “IMF (Interoperable Master Format): Overview and Applications”, lasted an hour and a half in virtual format and had an audience of approximately 30 people, including members of UHD Spain and media.

Pere Vila, Director of Technology and Digital Innovation Strategy at RTVE and president of the UHD Spain association, made a brief welcome introduction to the meeting where he pointed out the importance of the IMF, since “companies like Netflix have started to demand works in these standards”. He also expressed how these types of meetings consolidate the association’s strength “to approach topics from a collaborative and professional point of view, with companies that belong to the association and have been working on the IMF standard for years, as in this case TEDIAL”, which actively collaborates with the SMPTE and IMF Users Group associations at an international level.

During the meeting, Fernández-Campón explained that “IMF is a specification for media files” and it is a “family of standards grouped within the ST2067 standard of the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) that is supported by other standards such as MXF, DCP and XML”. Along these lines, Fernández-Campón pointed out that the intention of the IMF, is to facilitate the distribution of content centered on the definition of a composition and focused on any finished content of different types, mainly movies, series, commercials and short duration materials. Instead of a single media file, which is what has traditionally constituted a particular version of a program, an IMF package contains all the essences (video, audio and optionally subtitles) as a set of individual files and the metadata associated with a specific content.

Why the IMF makes the difference

After Tedial’s CTO explained exactly what IMF is and is not, during the meeting, he explained the reasons for using it and its benefits. Thus, it is indicated that IMF simplifies distribution workflows and reduces both storage costs and distribution time. “One of the key points of the IMF is that versions of different titles only contain the differences by referencing the original version, which drastically reduces storage space and shipping times.”

As a consequence of the above point, new versions can be created in significantly less time by reducing the processes involved, the resources within the team and the number of files to be created.

For Netflix, one of the main platforms that have opted for IMF, a key benefit is to reduce several of their content reception problems, since another of the advantages of IMF is that it allows them to define exactly the codecs in which the content will be received, thus reducing the complexities of managing the different versions in global markets.

There are other benefits to incorporating IMF into the content production chain. IMF offers better video quality, as the consumer has direct access to the original high quality versions. It is also a way to reduce human error, since the original media files are only referenced and kept intact when creating new versions, altering only the auxiliary files that define the composition (XMLs). IMF also offers a simplified approach to making incremental changes, such as text insertions, graphics and content revisions.

A future look at the IMF with UHD Spain

At the end of the meeting there was a round of questions where Dr. José Manuel Menéndez, professor at the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), in charge of editing the White Book on UHD in Spain and promoter of a new initiative with the creation of a course within the framework of UHD Spain, covering different elements of the entire UHD chain, proposed to Fernández Campón his participation with the creation of a chapter within the syllabus of one of the themes on information exchange systems.

The possibility of creating a special chapter dedicated to information exchange systems and including practical information on IMF in the second edition of the White Book on UHD in Spain has also been discussed.

This initiative of the non-profit association UHD Spain consists of meetings of its members with experts in the audiovisual sector and responds to the commitment to promote Ultra High Definition in Spain, at all levels: both for consumers and professionals.

UHD Spain was established as a non-profit association on January 26th, 2021, by 30 founding members: ADM Group, Ametic, Ateme, AtresMedia, Axion, Canon, Cellnex, Dolby, Drago/Secuoya, Egatel, Fecotel, Fenitel, Fraunhofer, Gsertel, Henneo Group, Hispasat, Hurí, Lavinia, Mediapro, Medina Media, RTVE, Rohde & Schwarz, Sapec, Tedial, Telecom Castilla La Mancha, Televés, TRedess, the Polytechnic University of Madrid, UTECA and Vestel. They have been joined by FORTA, TV3 and Videomos, as well as Canal Sur, Synamedia and the Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Técnicos de Telecomunicaciones (COITT), as collaborators.

For more information and how to become a member of UHD Spain: coordinacion@uhdspain.es