8 Reasons Why We’re Excited About IMF

13th September 2018

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IMF (Interoperable Master Format)

On the 16th of August 2018 the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) and Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) unveiled a new technical specification that is expected to have a significant impact on how television and online content is sold and exchanged.  The catchily-titled IMF TSP 2121-2018 Application DPP (ProRes) builds on existing standards with a focus on supporting the mastering and international exchange of content.

There’s lots of technical information available about IMF and this new specification, and the industry is currently working on strategies for implementing IMF into the broadcast and online video supply chain but in the meantime, here’s why we think this new IMF application is important for content localization.


It represents an international effort towards global standardisation

An unprecedented level of international industry collaboration has gone into the development of the IMF for Broadcast and Online spec – which makes sense seeing as the goal is to foster global interoperability.  The DPP have collaborated with SMPTE, NABA and the EBU in an international effort to standardise the approach to creating different versions of content.


The IMF container keeps everything together

IMF can be used for efficient asset delivery: video, audio, data and composition playlists can all be bundled together into an IMF Package. In this way all the elements needed for localization are kept together, making it much easier to track, store and manage your assets.


IMF solves the “versionitis” epidemic

The principle behind IMF is that most new versions contain a significant amount of the same content and that only a few changes are required to make each new version.  So, the IMF package contains a single master version of the content, the separate elements needed to change that master to create the different versions and an XML composition playlist which specifies which video, audio and data elements should be included in the different versions.

The key take-away is that IMF allows you to re-use the content that is similar and simply deliver the difference.  The only extra data you need to share is the composition playlist with the changes.


IMF reduces the amount of storage and archive space required

Instead of storing hundreds of versions of any one programme, with IMF you only store the elements needed to create them, significantly reducing storage and archive space requirements.


The IMF package cuts down on duplicated effort

Currently, content preparation for original broadcast and localised versions are treated as separate workflows, each managed by different stakeholders who are independently responsible for creating whatever materials they need for delivery, compliance and access services.   Because the IMF package keeps all the programme elements and data together, there’s bound to be less duplicated effort during the localization process.  Eg : The original subtitle and caption data can be adapted for different versions rather than recreated from scratch each time.


IMF can provide insights for dubbing

If an XML version of the post-production (or as-broadcast) script  is included in the IMF package, this can be rendered into speaker lists, speaker word-counts and other datasets at the touch of a button.  Having this information readily available will allow localization teams to plan and manage the dubbing process more effectively.


Translation quality can be improved

Localization teams rely on datasets that describe key names, phrases and places and frequently used terms to ensure that the original meaning doesn’t get lost in literal translation and to maintain continuity and brand consistency across regions, series and episodes.  This information can be included in the IMF package as part of an XML-based post-production script.


IMF can support content discovery

While data about users and their viewing habits helps inform viewing recommendations, programme information is just as important to this process.  XML data from post-production scripts and transcriptions can be included in the IMF package to provide granular content information to improve content discovery.


As we mentioned before, the IMF Specification for broadcast and online (TSP 2121-2018 Application DPP) is still being implemented, and it will continue to evolve over time.  Right now though, it seems like IMF may completely change the way we share global content, watch this space for updates…