News Production & Post

New Taskforce to tackle synch issues

27 September 2007

The EBU and SMPTE are setting up another joint Taskforce, some ten years after the seminal Taskforce on Digital Harmonisation that led to many of the concepts and standards in use in the industry today, including metadata. The new Taskforce will tackle timing and synchronisation issues, writes Nick Radlo.

The Taskforce’s work includes updating standards that have been around for 30 to 50 years and were originally designed for NTSC and PAL. Thus they fail to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of emerging video, audio and data methodologies

“We have two technologies, both of which are fundamental to any form of motion imaging,” said Peter Symes, SMPTE director of standards & engineering, who will co-chair the Taskforce with EBU senior engineer Dr Hans Hoffmann. “One is to decide exactly where everything is and when, in terms of video standards, synchronisation of video and audio, often with associated metadata. With the many aspects of timing, everything now is based on 50-year old technology, which doesn’t provide everything that we need going forward.”

The Taskforce will begin by focusing on user requirements, establishing a basis from which a Request for Technology can be formulated. The responses will, if they meet the industry’s needs, be developed into draft standards and put through SMPTE’s due process procedures.

“We’ve done a lot of work to keep the current technologies, like SMPTE timecode, working for a few years. But now is the opportunity, with technology developing in so many areas, to really look at what we need in future, how we apply the new technologies, synchronise all the different standards and other elements, and how we label the timing of all these things in the many areas of production, post production and delivery,” added Symes.

The first meeting of the new Taskforce will take place on November 5 & 6 at Sony Music in New York.

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