It is SMPTE's 100th anniversary! I hope that all readers have had a chance to view the Centennial Video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jN2yYrEFMFQ) and to contemplate that 100 years ago we were in the dawn of the cinema era, where different equipment used different frame rates, different sprocket sizes, different frame sizes and the concept of distributing and delivering content between different manufacturers was a real headache.
Now, 100 years later and after a century of standardisation, we find our beloved Serial Digital Interface being replaced or augmented by (?) Internet Protocol (IP) transport. We find that the concept of black & burst timing synchronisation doesn't fit well with the concepts of IP. The prospects of synchronising pictures and sound recorded separately with a wide variety of frame rates and sample rates which in turn might be independently delivered via stream, file, point-to-point link or packetized network, have moved us full circle to "Needing a standard to sort this out".
If only things were as simple as they were 100 years ago. Back then the requirements were very basic because there was essentially no interchange of moving imagery unless you were playing back content on the same equipment that you shot it with. Today, there are many conflicting requirements. Let's take a simple example:
1. A new timing system must be simple
2. A new timing system must cope with all existing broadcast formats
3. A new timing system must cope with new frame and sample rates
These requirements all seem sensible. Requirement #1 implies that it should be easy enough to understand and implement - no complaints there. Requirement #2 is pretty straightforward as well. Timecode currently satisfies requirement #2, so if we're going to replace it then it would seem sensible to be able to use old content on a new system. Requirement #3 also appears pretty sensible. We are beginning to see cinema content at 120 frames/sec. We are seeing TV content between 24 frames/sec and 300 frames/sec . Varispeed content could be shot at any framerate. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to independently set up the camera and a separate sound recording device for object based (immersive) audio and have them magically synchronise themselves without a complicated setup procedure? Unfortunately, without limiting the ranges of frame rates and sample rates, you can't do it and still have a generally applicable and SIMPLE standard.