One Wrapper To Cover Them All

Posted By Tom Coughlin on October 28, 2009 12:00 am | Permalink
Yesterday at the 2009 SMPTE conference media and entertainment professionals discussed developments in the MXF wrapper format for content creation and delivery during the Seminar on Advanced Media Workflows and MXF.  Today a session on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the Media Facility brought up very interesting case studies for video production.  Interestingly metadata was a major topic in many of the talks in this session as well.

In many regards the MXF standard is almost too vast, at 700+ pages it contains many wrapper and essence definitions and practices.  To be useful a standard like this needs to be interpreted and applied to particular situations.  Implementation of MXF to particular post production environments may be require specification “shims” that are designed to allow localized use of the standard within a given facility.  However the efficacy of the standard was demonstrated effectively by 13 vendors who participated in a demonstration of operations from ingest to archiving during the seminar.  The entire demonstration was set up in one afternoon and seemed to work without a flaw.

MXF  AS02 is designed for interoperable wrapper format between multiple vendors in post-production facitilies.  The MXF AS03 standard is intended for content delivery allowing AS03 files to be played back by many different applications and users.  In order to allow this playout AS03 files much be self-contained, that is they contain defined metadata sets for content identification and verification vs. delivered traffic metadata.  At the seminar a new Interoperable Mastering Format (IMF) as another subset of the MXF standard was discussed as a camera format for making a file replacement of HD CAM SR workflows.  Standards discussion on IMF occurred in the evening.

In the SOA session Yang Chen from Sobey Digital Technology in China discussed a massive SOA-based network production system that they set up in the Beijing TV Station.  The total storage capacity for this facility included 500 TB of on-line (real time) storage and 100 PB of near-line storage shared between 500 servers and 1,200 terminals.  They have data traffic that can average 50 TB/day!  All facets of SD and HD TV production and distribution were managed with the system between May 2006 and August 2008.  To facilitate data transport between the many users and department a modified ESB communications bus was used, called a EMB (Enterprise Media Bus).

David Carroll from Sony Electronics discussed issues with implementation of an effective SOA media facility.  He gave an interesting example of the data requirements with the recent Sony 2012 movie production.  The entire shoot consists of about 30 M frames which at high resolution was 240 TB.  If the work had been done on scanned film at 4K it would have taken about 1.44 PB of storage.  This data had to be maintained and available during 6-18 months of production.  A problem with 4K content is that the size of the files traps the content on storage islands with great difficulty sharing the content.  Creating a media bus to service 4K content requires an advanced network fabric that will probably consist of infiniband or multiple 8 GbEN today and perhaps 40 GbEN before too long.

Dieter Van Fujsselbergen from Ghent University-IBBT in Belgium gave a very interesting talk showing a very advanced “PISA” Drama Production System utilizing its own version of a metadata system including a “Movie Script Markup Language (MSML).”  This talk included a demonstration of modeling software to do realistic script and production layout analysis using touch screens and advanced user interfaces in order to work out bugs ahead of read content capture and production.  He also discussed using MPEG-7 to provide access to low level metadata features of a scene.

Metadata management is the security blanket that will allow advances in production and, content delivery and asset management, including archive and preservation of content.  SMPTE is playing a leading role in creating standards to enable future generations of ever richer, higher resolution content.