Founded in 1916 by Charles Francis Jenkins, an Edison contemporary who registered 400 patents including the milk carton still used in the US, SMPTE will celebrate its centenary next October.
It has a membership of 6200 and 250 corporate members. Its digital library is live with all magazine issues back to 1916, and Phil Cianci is editing a retrospective book with profiles of honorary members, including Edison and Baird.
How would Barbara Lange, executive director and Peter Symes, director of engineering and standards, discuss with Jenkins the battle with proprietary technology we see now?
“It is more intense, but not new,” said Lange. “Everything is changing so fast there is the perception that standards bodies are slow. We need to promote the benefits of standardisation because the due diligence is so crucially important.”
Symes extolled the virtues of SMPTE 2084 (Dolby the proponent): “We got it out early. The colourists who are starting to deploy it are saying it is so easy to work with. It is a perceptually quantised system. We have always known the more you screw up the signal in acquisition, the more difficult it is to deal with later,” he said.
“The 2084 stuff looks like we have done the job right. It will make post so easy, but you now have to do things at the other end. How can you avoid too much reliance on metadata to get a picture on different displays?”
Lange sees SMPTE as a ‘100-year old start up’. “The whole business is new – this whole push to OTT and the interest in HDR. Just six years ago Netflix was still doing DVDs. Prominent new members like Netflix, Cisco and BT reflect the changes we see happening.”