Paul Treleaven, IABM Technology Specialist
In these update articles, I often launch directly into topics related to the SMPTE and AES meetings that the IABM attends. However, there are numerous Standards bodies that have some impact on our industry, so I have put together a table to show how the picture fits together.
Later in this article we also describe some other organizations that contribute valuable standards-like work to our industry.
|STANDARDS BODIES; ACRONYMS and LINKS||Main relevance to IABM members|
|AES||Audio Engineering Society||Audio: Interfaces, Streaming, Metadata, File Format|
|IEC||International Electrotechnical Commission||AV systems, though tending to be domestic rather than professional|
|IETF||Internet Engineering Task Force||IPv4, IPv6 and multiple documents on IP transport of media (inc. SDP, SIP)|
|ITU-R||International Telecommunication Union; Radiocommunication||Multiple video formats – SD, HD, UHD; often parallel SMPTE docs.|
|ITU-T||International Telecommunication Union; Telecommunication||Compression standards (jointly with ISO-IEC); fundamental data networks|
|ISO-IEC||Joint body International Standards Organization and IEC||Compression standards (jointly with ITU-T) – includes MPEG and JPEG|
|SMPTE||Society of Media Professionals, Technologists and Engineers||Video formats, compression, metadata, file formats, network architecture, systems, mastering|
Are Standards Relevant to Software-based Media Products?
This question is prompted by the software landscape where individual developers get an idea for an app and design it to work exactly as they want it, with no constraints. Those developers expect to find everything they need by online searches – even when their app requires a Standard, they are used to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) paradigm of free specifications. So the paywall to obtain Standards is becoming acknowledged as a problem by Standards Development Organizations and some are looking for ways to make their documents freely available.
However, returning to the question, for the media industry, Standards are every bit as relevant to software implementations as they were to hardware. It is just that they are different; no longer custom interfaces over BNCs but network interfaces over IP, filesystems and workflow products. Standards have encouraged customers to embrace new technologies – e.g. IP with ST 2110, streamlined mastering with IMF, new content formats and their mapping into MXF.
Have Standards Meetings Recovered from Covid yet?
Standards Development Organizations adapted quickly to online meetings via Zoom or Teams. Mostly they worked well, though being international organizations, meeting times in some timezones were painful. Meetings were encouraged to be brief online to reduce screen-time fatigue, but that also discouraged discussion of issues that needed attention and I noticed that people put less effort into preparation of documents and attention to detail on status reports for “just another Zoom call”.
SMPTE, MPEG and IEC have returned to in-person meetings with some online sessions; a good balance. AES has stayed with online meetings – at least for the time being.
Standards Update – AES
Much AES standards work concerns audio fields that are only marginally relevant to Broadcast and Media such as acoustics, forensics. Some activities on interfaces have been very relevant in the past (AES3, MADI, connectors) but there is no important new work. The following network-based work items are relevant:
Streaming Audio Metadata over IP networks
This project defines a standardized method for transporting metadata associated with an AES67 stream’s audio content. The audio metadata is transported in a separate stream that is sent in parallel to, and synchronized with, the AES67 stream. This Standard will use SMPTE Fast Metadata (ST 2110-41, well-advanced through standardization) for transport and this AES project is expected to be completed this year.
Revision: AES67 – High-performance streaming audio-over-IP interoperability
This standard was introduced in 2013, revised in 2018 and is now undergoing further revision with an expectation of publication this year. A big motivation for revision was restructuring to make the Protocol Implementation and Conformance annex easier to specify tests. Changes are mostly extensions or clarifications so that backwards-compatibility can be maintained, though a few changes to overcome network operation issues have been agreed.
Revision: AES70 – Open Control Architecture suite (and related documents)
The last published version of this 3-part suite – 2018 – is undergoing substantial revision. The biggest change is a much-improved connection management process, though many other improvements are being introduced to support new “adaptation documents” that enable AES70 to control AES67, IEEE’s Milan streams and (very new) Audinate Dante® streams. An additional Part 4 for the suite will define JSON protocol.
Standards Update – SMPTE
SMPTE’s Public CD process
This process has quickly become the norm for new standards. It exposes the document to the public at the Committee Draft (CD) stage before it has been balloted. The public becomes aware of the work much earlier than it would with the full publication process and it permits implementers to “test” the provisions and propose improvements on GitHub that will be considered for the document as it proceeds to publication.
At the time of writing there are 20 documents on the public CD page including 12 whose review period is closed.
SMPTE’s Rapid Industry Solutions (RIS)
This initiative recognizes the need for agile solutions to technology challenges. More details. The first RIS topic is On-Set Virtual Production, with an output document just released on Camera and Lens Metadata. At NAB 2023, a second RIS project was launched by taking over the work of the Open Services Forum on Media Microservices.
Media over Managed IP Networks
The ST 2110 transport suite is approaching completion, with 10 parts published and another on the point of publication. Details on published parts. New parts in development are:
- Fast Metadata (FMX)
- Timing Planes (using timestamp features to automate computation of chain latency)
Two Microservices draft Standards are on the public CD page – “IMF Registration Service API” and “Microservice Status Reporting and Logging”. Development is underway on “Job Processing Architecture”. See the note above about this work moving into Rapid Industry Solutions.
Interoperable Mastering Format (IMF)
This suite of documents defines a method for simplifying mastering for generating multiple distribution formats. Much of this suite has long been published. Details on published parts.
New IMF development projects are underway on an IMF Application for VC-6 compression and an IMF Application for VC-3 compression, as well as new documents defining macros for Output Profile Lists.
UTC-Aligned ST 12 Timecode
This is a very new project that we have started to monitor, though some doubt has been expressed about the need for it.
Media Standards Work in Other Organizations
The Video Services Forum has published Technical Recommendations here on Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST), JPEG XS transport, ST 2110 over WAN, and a Pro-AV version of ST 2110 called IPMX.
The Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) has an important – and growing – family of Networked Media Open Specifications (NMOS) that complement the SMPTE ST 2110 suite with these interoperability specifications:
- Discovery & Registration
- Device Connection Management
- Event & Tally
- Audio Channel Mapping
- System Parameters
- Work-in-progress on: Stream Compatibility Management, Control Protocol, Annotation
Documentation here together with data models and Best Common Practices.
The Joint Task Force for Networked Media (JT-NM) has published “System Environment and Device Behaviors For SMPTE ST 2110 Media Nodes in Engineered Networks – Networks, Registration and Connection Management” – document TR 1001-1. It sets further requirements beyond ST 2110 and NMOS to achieve interoperability in media networks.
There is also a “JT-NM tested” program for validating products against ST 2110, NMOS and TR 1001-1. The last testing session was August 2022 – see explanations and catalogs here.
IABM Standards Resources
We welcome enquiries from members about Standards.
The IABM supports the development of standards that underpin the technologies used in Broadcast and Media. Much of that effort occurs “behind the scenes” – in SMPTE and AES online drafting groups where the standards take shape.
Standards Meeting Reports
We also attend AES and SMPTE meetings and produce reports covering all the projects that we think members may be interested in.
The IABM Standards Monitoring Group (SMG)
For this activity, we have selected SMPTE and AES project groups (often with members’ recommendations) 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.