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Overview of the Interoperable Master Format (IMF)

February 12, 2016 in Video Formats by Alan Repech

IMF PackageInteroperable Master Format (IMF) is a SMPTE standard for providing a single, interchangeable master file format and structure for the distribution of content between businesses around the world. IMF provides a framework for creating a true file-based final master.

Description of IMF Components:

IMF is an evolution of the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) architecture, providing a complete file interchange unit to the distribution channel. While DCP is about theatrical content distribution, IMF is about providing businesses with a master format for creating multiple tailored versions of the same piece of content for different audiences. It allows distribution of unique versions from content owners to service providers, or distributors—and multiple final destinations such as Airlines, Broadcaster, OTT (e.g. Netflix), DVD authoring, and more.

For example, a widely distributed major motion picture may require dozens of different versions in order to support multiple market segments such as airlines, VOD providers, promo spots, or an edit for cable television. IMF eliminates the need to create a dozen plus master copies by separating each market requirement into individual ‘component formulas’ (Composition Play Lists or CPL) that reference the available essence components (namely MXF media files) included in an IMF package. Individual CPLs are used to create versions based on the master essence components for each of the differing market audiences.

IMF is not made up as a single file. It is a standard specifying individual components which together create a complete IMF package. An IMF package includes the following:

Essence wrapped into MXF track files

  • Video essence (J2K up to UHD)
  • Audio essence (24bit uncompressed, any number of channels)
  • Data essence (subtitles & captioning using IMSC Timed Text)1
  • Dynamic metadata (metadata changes over time)

Composition playlist (CPL) – human readable XML

  • Similar to an Edit Decision List (EDL)
  • References track files via UUID instead of directory paths

Packaging data XML (asset map, packing list and volume index)

IMF essences are defined by Application specifications that allow for different codec types, frame rates and resolution. Two application specifications, Application #2 and #2 Extended, are applicable to the broadcast media market. Application #2 supports SD/HD with JPEG-2000 Broadcast Profile; #2 Extended supports UHD (up to 4K) with JPEG-2000 Broadcast Profile media up to 10bit.

Telestream Vantage Support for IMF:

Vantage from Telestream can take an IMF CPL as a master source input to create all appropriate outputs, and can create single segment IMF Master Packages as an output. Vantage currently supports ingesting and outputting IMF Application #2, and Application #2 Extended IMF packages.

More information on IMF can be found at the SMPTE website, SMPTE Standards Development Update: IMF.

Truth and Hype on HDR

January 15, 2016 in Improve Video Quality by Paul Turner

HDR MountainsIn our last blog about Ultra High Definition (UHD), we covered the spacial resolution of the human visual system, and how (horizontally) the highest frequency the average human with 20/20 vision can detect subtends an angle of approximately 1 arc minute (1/60th of a degree) at the retina. There’s another aspect we need to consider, though, and that’s the sensitivity of the eye to variations in brightness The human eye can resolve the wide range of colors and brightness found in the natural world, but our existing TV systems limit the amount of light that the display can produce to the range of 0.117 nits (a nit is a measurement of brightness) to 100 nits for full white. In comparison, the natural world can produce high brightness colors in excess of 1400 nits. So Cinematographers and Directors of Photography have to adjust aperture on their cameras to allow those bright colors to still fit within the available range of TV transmission. The same is true for the range of colors that can be reproduced (“color gamut”), which is again limited to what is referred to as “rec 709 colors”. This results in what is now termed “Standard Dynamic Range” (or SDR) images. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve had so far (and it was largely determined by the available CRT technology at the time the specs were written).

Technology advances, and we now have display technologies that can produce a significantly wider black-to-white range, along with being able to reproduce a much wider set of colors. The result of both of these is displays that are capable of producing images which are much more vivid and true-to-life (assuming they were shot with this display technology in mind, of course) – this is what is now referred to as “High Dynamic Range” (HDR) images. The displays themselves are only part of the story, however. Cinematographers/DPs must now set up their cameras to capture a much wider dynamic range, and the transmission and processing (not too much of a problem there!). The colorists need to work their magic in HDR color space (not too much of a problem there, either). But the processing equipment needs to be able to work on signals of 12 bits or larger, in order to process these images. Generally speaking, this means that these processing devices must have an internal video pipeline of 16 bits. If not, the resultant processing will “crush” the dynamic range of the image, which goes against the whole point of HDR – in the worst case, they may throw away bits, which will result in significant contouring.

But there’s a bigger problem than that: whilst you can already find TV sets which are labeled as being HDR capable, there are no standards as yet for the format to be used for delivery of HDR material – in fact, the CEA has only just announced the industry definition for HDR compatible displays themselves. We have to consider legacy support as part of the process– how should an SDR set display an HDR signal? There are several approaches, some of which separate the signal into SDR images with a sidecar transmission that provides the additional information needed to recreate the HDR signal in an HDR display. Others use metadata to tell the SDR set what to do with an HDR signal. HDR is unlikely to achieve widespread adoption until this standardization issue is resolved.

One thing that is certain, though, is that HDR is very much at the forefront of everybody’s mind when considering new television technologies. You only have to see the images produced by a properly sourced HDR display to understand the impact this technology is going to have on TV viewing. In fact, a well set up 1080p HDR image will blow away an SDR 4K image in almost every respect – we just need to standardize on the delivery format and EOTF/PQ (the HDR equivalent of Gamma) so manufacturers know what to design to.

At Telestream, we are always watching developments such as this, to ensure our customers have access to all the latest technologies. Vantage was engineered with a 16 bit (award-winning) video processing system and pipeline, so is perfectly poised to process HDR material – in fact, for certain input/output configurations, we already can!

CaptionMaker and MacCaption 6.4 now available

January 11, 2016 in Company, Industry, Product by Alexis Patton

captioning

Telestream is pleased to announce that MacCaption and CaptionMaker versions 6.4 are now available, with major advancements for both captioning and subtitling workflows. This is a free update for MacCaption & CaptionMaker owners with current support contracts.

Mac Users
For MacCaption 6.4, our priorities were providing additional internet captioning support, updating to Auto Time Stamp (ATS), and adding an option to export the new IMSC timed text format that will provide captioning for the new IMF (Interoperable Master Format) package standard. (Learn more about IMF.) Having the ability to convert standard caption files such as .SCC to the IMSC timed text format helps customers who are currently looking to test compatibility with their existing file based workflow.

New in Auto Time Stamp
The update to Auto Time Stamp includes better support and accuracy for auto timing text to media with fast paced audio dialogue. Auto Time Stamp is a time saver for customers who are creating captioning from scratch using a plain text transcript. The ATS module processes the audio and provides automatic synchronization of English text for closed captioning. This update helps customers who have video content that is fast-paced, such as news and sports material. The ATS update is available in both MacCaption and CaptionMaker 6.4. (Learn more about Auto Time Stamp).

Windows Users
On the Windows side, the release of CaptionMaker 6.4 marks a milestone for Telestream captioning products with the addition of OP-47 Teletext support and UHD subtitling. Up to now, development was focused on CEA-608/708 support for North American broadcasters who have accessibility requirements. With OP-47 Teletext read and write capabilities, the software becomes more versatile to international customers looking for a simple solution to meet accessibility requirements in Teletext subtitle and closed captioning workflows

Conversions between standard caption files to OP-47 Teletext are possible. When repurposing North American content for foreign markets, converting closed caption CEA-608 data to OP-47 Teletext had been a challenge. This is because North American video content typically has caption data set to 29.97 frames per second, while Teletext broadcast is 25 fps. CaptionMaker 6.4 has the ability to recalculate the 29.97 fps caption data and provide the proper timing for OP-47 Teletext media. The same is true going from Teletext back to CEA-608. MXF files containing SDP (subtitle distribution packets) with OP-47 Teletext are supported on import to verify the data, do edits, and conversions.

Burn-in Subtitles
Once the data is extracted CaptionMaker 6.4 can also create a subtitle overlay file for burn-in subtitles from the OP-47 data. This is critical for customers who need to create open subtitles for the video content for foreign markets. The subtitle overlay can be set to a specified output resolution up to Ultra HD to match the delivery specification.

Margin Adjustment
For Enterprise edition owners, automation in CaptionMaker 6.4 now provides a new subtitle margin adjustment parameter. This solves the problem of using generic subtitle files that don’t have correct positioning to create subtitles for letterboxed HD media. By default, subtitles that have bottom or top positioning may appear in the black bars of a letterboxed image. With the subtitle margins parameter, users can automatically create subtitle overlay files that will appear within the margins of the letterboxed picture.

Supporting Nexidia QC
Finally, CaptionMaker 6.4 can now import Nexidia QC reports that contain notes and markers showing where corrections need to be made in a caption project or .SCC file. This new feature is very helpful for video professionals who need to manually correct timing and text errors reported by the automated Nexidia QC module in Nexidia Illuminate within Telestream Vantage. Learn more about Vantage and Nexidia integration.

Product owners with current support contracts can download the update now.
Product owners without current support: speak to our sales team about getting the update.
Want to try MacCaption or CaptionMaker 6.4? Download the free trial.

TV Captioning Mandates: A (very) Brief History

January 4, 2016 in Captioning, Industry, News by Will Brown

MandatesIn a previous post we looked at impending captioning mandates for broadcast video clips distributed over the Internet. In this article, we’ll review the origin of US captioning requirements and current broadcast captioning mandates, and we’ll briefly discuss exemptions to closed captioning requirements. This article is meant to serve as a summary of captioning requirements and is not intended as legal advice regarding FCC mandates. More details are available on the website of the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR) .

Read the rest of this entry →

Titler Pro Live, the 2nd Generation Title Tool from NewBlueFX

December 14, 2015 in Company, News, Product by Telestream Blog

NewBlue

A post from our friends at NewBlueFX

After months of hard work and a lot of input from professionals like you, it’s finally here.

Titler Pro Live 2 is the easiest and fastest way to raise the production value of your live streams. Leverage over 70 templates and the fully featured Title Designer to create animated titles and graphics in a fully integrated interface.

Why We Made It

You told us here at NewBlue you wanted a product that was faster and easier to use. And we didn’t disappoint.

We redesigned Titler Pro Live 2 from the ground up. We aligned our workflow with Wirecast’s by leveraging multiple sources to deliver a truly native experience. We then used technology from our latest titling tool, Titler Pro 4, to boost render speeds and video playback.

And we didn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry →

If 4K is Good, and 8K is Better, is 16K Best?

November 3, 2015 in Employee Spotlight, Industry, Interviews, News by Lucas Bischofberger

8K

Another great contribution from our very own Paul Turner!

Ch-ch-ch-changes

One thing we know to be constant in our industry is that there is always going to be change. We’ve moved from black and white to color to digital to HD, in the constant desire to bring higher and higher fidelity images to the home. Now we’re hearing about 4K/UHDTV (these are not quite the same, but we’ve had that discussion) and beyond – the Japanese broadcasters – and specifically NHK – have announced that they intend to broad cast the 2020 Olympics in 8K resolution. Read the rest of this entry →

Captioning Mandates in the New Year

October 14, 2015 in Company, Industry, News by Will Brown

MandatesYour Cheat Sheet to Internet captioning requirements through 2017

For broadcasters and cable programmers already grappling with the FCC’s closed captioning mandates, 2016 and 2017 will bring even more new requirements – this time for video distributed over the internet. These new captioning requirements will extend the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) and are developing at a time when audiences are watching less content over cable (or over the air) and more content on internet-enabled devices (what we call over-the-top or “OTT”). Read the rest of this entry →

What on Earth is “Drop Frame Timecode?”

September 1, 2015 in Industry, News, Tips and Tricks by Lucas Bischofberger

TimecodeAnother great contribution from our very own Paul Turner!

It All Has to do With the History of NTSC

The idea of timecode has been around since the very earliest days of TV, and has its origins in the idea of keycode in film negatives. The idea is simply to uniquely identify any individual frame in a piece of media. A simple frame count would do this, but few people could envision where, in time, frame 213,452 is. So timecode uses the idea of a frame identifier being designated in HH:MM:SS:FF, frame 213,452 translates to 01:58:35:02 (at 30 frames per second). Read the rest of this entry →

ScreenFlow Beginner Webinars

August 18, 2015 in Product, ScreenFlow, Tips and Tricks by Lucas Bischofberger

shutterstock_276102950

Learning a new app can be difficult, but we’ve made it much easier.

Starting fresh with new software is intimidating and often quite frustrating.  While we try to make Screenflow as intuitive as possible, some things are just better when presented in an easy to follow, thorough manner.  Between our Product Specialist Andrew Haley, and Product Evangelist Lucas Bischofberger, our 3-part beginner webinar series does just that.  Follow along as we open up ScreenFlow for the first time, all the way to batch exporting with different datarates and output destinations. Read the rest of this entry →

Meet the ScreenFlow-er: Jeffrey Bradbury

August 3, 2015 in Interviews, Meet the ScreenFlow-er, Product, ScreenFlow, Tips and Tricks by Lucas Bischofberger

Jeffrey Bradbury and TeacherCast

IMG_6190A few weeks ago, while in Philadelphia for the ISTE conference, we were lucky enough to spend some time with Jeffrey Bradbury.  An avid ScreenFlow and Wirecast user, Jeffrey is well known in the EdTech scene as the creator of Teachercast, and as teacher helping fellow teachers.  We sat down for a quick interview to see how an education pro uses Screenflow to it’s full extent! Read the rest of this entry →