SMPTE, Euro b'cast union in synchronicity

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The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the European Broadcasting Union are forming a joint task force to establish picture and sound timing and synchronization standards in motion picture and related media industries.

"(The result) could have a significant effect on the way TV and motion pictures are assembled, and play a significant role in the way new media content is managed and distributed," said SMPTE engineering vp Gavin Schutz, also president and COO of Azcar Media Services. For example, he suggested that the result could include a new way of indexing moving image content -- an updated version of commonly used time code --to reflect elements such as compression.

Current methods of timing and synchronization rely on standards that have been in place for more 30 years. But SMPTE and the EBU said that, while these standards have served the industry well, they are predicated on technologies that are increasingly inappropriate in a digital age that employs such features as networked content sharing and higher frame rate HDTV image formats.

To address this issue, the task force will publish one or more Requests for Technology. The industry's responses to these RFTs will be evaluated and the process will result in a set of specifications that will be passed to the appropriate SMPTE technology committees for standardization.

Said EBU technical director Lieven Vermaele: "The focus on user requirements is the key element to ensure new solutions that will meet the needs of our members and other organizations around the world."

The task force will be chaired jointly by the EBU technical department's Dr. Hans Hoffmann and SMPTE director of standards and engineering Peter Symes. It intended to publish a final specification by the end of 2008.
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