Class: Do we still need standards

Bruce Devlin - new TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

On the 1st January 2018, I officially took on the post of SMPTE Standards Vice President. The role has responsibility for all of SMPTE’s standardisation activities and it fills me with equal measures of excitement and terror.

A big thank you to Alan Lambshead who, after 4 years as Standards Vice President is handing over the post to me. I think it is entirely fitting that mid-way through Alan’s final set of Face-to-Face meetings we see the publication of SMPTE ST2110. And many within the industry see this new standard as a turning point towards a new IT based future.

So, what exactly is a standard and why is it important that ST 2110 is more than a white paper published on a few vendors’ websites?

A standard

As a Cambridge man, I found the Cambridge English Dictionary definitions of the word standard are:

(countable noun) level of quality.
e.g. We have very high safety standards in this laboratory.

(countable noun) a pattern or model that is generally accepted.
e.g. This program is an industry standard for computers.

(countable noun) a pattern or model that is generally accepted.
e.g. This program is an industry standard for computers.

(adjective) usual rather than special, especially when thought of as being correct or acceptable.
e.g. These are standard procedures for handling radioactive waste.

SMPTE standards and the processes to make them embody the ideas of quality, correct and accepted. This is where some of the friction arises in this new software world we live in. I hear many people asking for the standards process to be quicker and for it to be more thorough and more accurate and for the resulting documents to be free. These are all great ideals, but they are conflicting requirements.

If you have read this far in the article, then I am sure that you have found yourself in a room with smart people who have firmly held, but differing opinions on some technical issue. It could be “should we optimise for speed of writing the specification or speed of building the resulting product?” It could be “do we prioritise low latency or low complexity in the design?”. These types of trade offs do not have a universal correct answer and smart people with differing vested interests need to compromise if these issues come up during the creation of a standard.

Making the mechanics of a standardisation process fast is unlikely to magically get an accepted agreement between groups of different vested interests. The best result is usually a quality compromise between the parties because that will maximise the number of implementations of the standard and will very often lead to the biggest industry built upon that standard because the standard will become the accepted way.

The SMPTE standards process, by design, is thorough. This means scrutiny at the most minute level of detail of what is written so that the standard itself can act as a bedrock upon which systems with long term stability can be built. A standard that is rushed and incomplete does not give good interoperability and ultimately will detract from SMPTE’s reputation for quality and reliability.

As we start 2018, you will start to see some activity on a new SMPTE specifications initiative that is being trialled with the UK’s Digital Production Partnership. The goal is to create a nimble process in which SMPTE’s resources can be used to create business-driven specifications that constrain the heavy weight standards that SMPTE is renowned for.

Specifications allow a core standard, like ST 2110, to be used very differently in different scenarios. The USA with fractional frame rates will have different core constraints than the UK with integer frame rates. Countries with right-to-left non-Latin scripts will have different captioning and subtitling requirements to North America.

Using Specifications to constrain standards for local cultures and working practises has been one of the keys to the success of Film and TV over the years. We hope that this specifications trial will encourage organisations to approach SMPTE for the publishing and long-term memory of their increasingly diverse range of Specifications.

I am honoured and flattered to have been elected to the post of Standards Vice President and I hope that I can bring to the standards community some of the enthusiasm and passion that I have for this industry of ours.

Tags: iss129 | smpte | st2110 | dpp | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • PHABRIX QXIP support for SMPTE 2110

    PHABRIX QXIP support for SMPTE 2110

  • SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    SMPTE on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • IP, 3G-SDI + HDR generation, analysis and monitoring from Phabrix NAB 2017

    IP, 3G-SDI + HDR generation, analysis and monitoring from Phabrix NAB 2017

  • Argosy at IBC2011

    Argosy at IBC2011

  • Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

    Telestream Vantage support for DPP at IBC 2014

  • Wohler DPP at BVE 2014

    Wohler DPP at BVE 2014

  • WohlerGateway at IBC 2014

    WohlerGateway at IBC 2014

  • Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

    Front Porch Digital at IBC 2014

  • Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

    Telestream Wirecast and Switch at IBC 2014

  • Wohler MPEG Monitoring at BVE 2014

    Wohler MPEG Monitoring at BVE 2014

Related Shows
  • Day 5 of BroadcastShow at IBC

    Day 5 of BroadcastShow at IBC

21st Century Technology for 20th Century Content
James Hall A big challenge facing owners of legacy content is rationalising and archiving their tape and film-based media in cost effective and efficient ways, whilst also adding value. Normally the result of this is to find a low cost means of digitising the content – usually leaving them with a bunch of assets on HDD. But then what? How can content owners have their cake and eat it?
Tags: iss135 | legacy | digitising | digitizing | archive | James Hall
Contributing Author James Hall Click to read or download PDF
Grading BBC Sounds
Simone Grattarola

The BBC has launched its new personalised music, radio and podcast app with a campaign that follows one listener’s journey from meeting Kylie Minogue in a lift to Idris Elba on a bus. 

BBC Sounds offers a single home for the BBC’s thousands of hours of audio content, including live and on-demand shows and special music mixes curated by artists.

BBC Creative, the broadcaster’s in-house creative division, took the brief to agency Riff Raff Films and Megaforce directing duo of Charles Brisgand and Raphaël Rodriguez who in turn brought on board regular collaborators Time Based Arts.

Tags: iss135 | bbc | grading | bbc sounds | davinici | resolve | blackmagic | editing | Simone Grattarola
Contributing Author Simone Grattarola Click to read or download PDF
Test, Measurement and Standards
Alan Wheable The Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), is a non-profit trade alliance that fosters the adoption of one set of common, ubiquitous, standards-based protocols for interoperability over IP in the media and entertainment, and professional audio/video industries.
Tags: iss135 | omnitek | aims | SNMP | hdr | ai | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
The making of The Heist
Tom Hutchings Shine TV has never been one to shy away from a challenge, be that in terms of using new technologies, filming ideas or overall formats: we pride ourselves on being ambitious and risk-takers.
Tags: iss135 | liveu | heist | streaming | cellular | mobile | connectivity | Tom Hutchings
Contributing Author Tom Hutchings Click to read or download PDF
Your two week editing future
Alex Macleod

So here we are - January again! Usually a good time to reflect on the year just gone by, and a good time to look forward to the coming months as the new year begins.

When I was reflecting on my 2018, and when thinking about what to write for my first article for Kit Plus - I kept coming back to one theme - organisation.

Tags: iss135 | editing | mediacity training | premiere pro | dit | Alex Macleod
Contributing Author Alex Macleod Click to read or download PDF