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Keeping up Standards

By Paul Treleaven, Technology Specialist Consultant, IABM

Fri 25, 09 2020

In the Covid-19 era, the regular standards meetings that we attend have certainly been disrupted, but like many other aspects of our industry, virtual technology has stepped in as a substitute. The system is working, though not being on the meeting’s timezone can require attendance at some difficult hours!

Many of the sub-groups have already been using virtual meetings for several years and this has proved an efficient way to develop documents.

Who Needs Standards?

I’ll briefly revisit this perennial question. Sure, engineers developing latest / greatest code would like all the freedom they can get. But Standards are more of a strategic tool at Corporate level. The IABM has established that customers want to build their systems from best-in-class products, without being tied to one vendor. Standards achieve this, and they can help to make customers take new technologies seriously – e.g. IP with ST 2110, streamlined mastering with IMF.

For the purposes of this article, I will also cover some relevant trade organizations and consortiums that are producing important standards-like documents.

Latest Standards News

SMPTE’s “public CD process”

For a few months, SMPTE has been trialing a process where a document is released to the public while it is still at the Committee Draft (CD) stage. This exposes the document to the public before it has been balloted. The intention is twofold. The public becomes aware of the work much earlier than it would with the full publication process and it permits implementations to “test” the provisions and contribute to improvements before publication. Documents currently at public CD status are two multichannel audio documents and two interoperable mastering format (IMF) documents. Details here. More public CDs are on their way.

STOP PRESS! SMPTE currently also has a very similar Technical Specification process – here. This will be discontinued and transitioned to use the public CD process.

Video Compression

The video compression landscape was once dominated by MPEG (partnered with ITU-T). However, since MPEG-2, the licensing and royalty arrangements have become ever-more complicated and that is thought to still be the case with the latest offering, VVC, if you want to do anything beyond the baseline.

In a surprise move in June, ”father of MPEG”, Leonardo Chiariglione, resigned from MPEG declaring MPEG “dead”!

He has since initiated the Moving Picture coding by Artificial Intelligence (MPAI) community.

Meanwhile, the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) that was formed in 2015 to develop a royalty-free alternative, continues to grow. Its AV1 codec competes with HEVC, particularly in the online market.

SMPTE’s latest compression standard, VC-6, has just been published as ST 2117. It standardizes technology from V-NOVA.

Media over Managed IP Networks

The core parts of the ST 2110 transport suite are mature now, though some are getting minor revision as part of the SMPTE one-year-review process. Details on published parts. New parts in development are:

  • Fast Metadata (FMX)
  • Data Item Format for ST 2110 Technical Metadata
  • Special Considerations for Standard Definition Video using SMPTE ST 2110-20

Alongside the ST 2110 transport suite is the growing suite of NMOS specifications from AMWA that are targeted towards control aspects:

  • Discovery & Registration – IS-04
  • Device Connection Management – IS-05
  • Network Control – IS-06
  • Event & Tally – IS-07
  • Audio Channel Mapping – IS-08
  • System Parameters – IS-09
  • Authorization – IS-10

The latest status information for these documents is available here together with other documents on Natural Grouping; Securing Communications; Authorization; Certificate Provisioning; Parameter Registers. There is a very good introduction to NMOS here.

Sitting atop SMPTE 2110 and NMOS is the Joint Task Force for Networked Media (JT-NM). This task force laid some early groundwork for these technologies and in 2018 published “System Environment and Device Behaviors For SMPTE ST 2110 Media Nodes in Engineered Networks – Networks, Registration and Connection Management” – document TR 1001-1, freely available here.

It aimed to “plug the gaps” that still existed in the networked media environment for implementing fully interoperable systems. It includes an EBU Media Node Pyramid. Top-to-bottom slices are: Media Transport; Time and Sync; Discovery and Connection; Configuring and Monitoring; Security. The EBU has recently revised its source document with an updated pyramid that fortunately has less red! Webinar here.

JT-NM is also running a “JT-NM tested” program for validating products against ST 2110, NMOS and TR 1001-1. This year, “self-tested” catalogs were added – see all catalogs here.

Other Media Standards Work

A group within the Video Services Forum has been developing ideas for ST 2110 transport over WAN. This AIMS / VSF webinar from last month describes the issues. There is similar work in AES, where the group is writing a report – working title AES67 beyond the LAN – How to use AES67 on WAN and Cloud applications.

Microservices work has reactivated in SMPTE with a standards project “IMF Registration Service API”. A second microservices project is expected shortly on Device Control and Logging.

A joint task force between the Entertainment Technology Center and SMPTE has started. It will gather requirements and study use cases around artificial intelligence (AI) related to media production and consumption. Project here.

IABM Standards Resources

A good way to get up-to-speed on media standards is our June 2020 webinar.

Standards Meeting Reports

We produce reports after each SMPTE standards meeting round here and after each AES standards meeting round here

Deeper Dive – the IABM Standards Monitoring Group

We have selected SMPTE and AES project groups whose work seems most important to IABM members and we participate in their teleconferences – typically held weekly or fortnightly. This provides an up-to-date picture of the state of their documents and development work.

We make that information available to technologists in our member organizations with our Standards Monitoring Group (SMG). The SMG is a forum where members can comment on the provisions contained in draft standards documents and the IABM can submit those comments as part of the consensus-building process in the drafting group. It is usual and encouraged for the participants in drafting groups to consult with their colleagues to review and improve the provisions of the document. Information on joining the SMG is on this website page.

SMPTE projects currently monitored by the SMG:

  • ​Media over Managed IP Networks – ST 2110 suite
  • ​Network-based Synchronization – ST 2059 suite
  • ​Microservices in Media
  • ​Extensible Time Label (new timecode plus features such as source identification)
  • ​Required application protocol standards for IP-based media production
  • AI and Media

AES projects currently monitored by the SMG:

  • Streaming audio metadata over IP
  • Streaming audio-over-IP interoperability – AES67 (continuing revision and associated work)
  • Open Control Architecture – AES70 (includes revision and adaptations for connection management of AES67 and other formats)
  • Open Directory Architecture – Study group
  • Projects on EMC mitigation and audio interconnections

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