Content distribution in the 21st century isn’t easy. But the opportunities for growth and innovation in the media & entertainment space are limitless. The globalization of content in recent years has added a variety of factors to consider during post production.
Mastering is traditionally done for different distribution formats like TV censor, airline, or theatrical, in different resolutions (i.e., 1080p, 720p, SD), in varying aspect ratios (i.e., 16:9, 4:3), a multitude of languages, and an assortment of distribution deliverables including broadcast, satellite, cable, discs, VoD, and OTT.
Requirements around these elements vary from region to region. As a result, content creators must produce several different versions of a title if they want to distribute it globally. What the industry not-so-fondly refers to as “versionitis” often leads to disorganization and time-consuming considerations when it comes to managing and delivering content.
This problem is what the Interoperable Master Format (IMF) is solving today.
The Basics: What is IMF Made of?
IMF is essentially a composition of media elements, including files for video, audio, subtitles/captioning data, and dynamic metadata, that when packaged together form a complete version of a title.
Imagine IMF format as a bucket, and in that bucket is a version of a title. But there is hardly ever just one version–a title has many different versions with different types of audio, subtitles, and resolutions etc.–and they can all live in the same bucket. A list of instructions that explain what components to use from the bucket in order to assemble the different versions gets delivered along with the bucket to its destination.
Why is IMF Better for Managing & Delivering Content?
IMF makes it so that operators don’t have to build, manage, and traffic multiple heavy flat file versions. Because IMF is packaged as a lightweight XML, it’s much easier and faster to move around, on prem and in the cloud.
The componentized format makes it so that localized files can easily be swapped in and out in order to render new versions on the fly, allowing for maximum flexibility when it comes to building new versions. With IMF, content can more efficiently move down the supply chain from the set through post to major delivery platforms like Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, BBC, Comcast, and many more.
In the past few years, we have seen the adoption rate of the IMF standard climb as it becomes more mainstream in media and entertainment. IMF adoption is in even higher demand today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s no longer a question of “if” companies should adopt IMF, but rather “when.”
How are Content Companies Using IMF Today?
All of our customers at OWNZONES are delivering in 20+ languages in several different compliance versions to over 100 different platforms in order to meet the unprecedented demand for content while everyone is at home. The key to efficiently managing high volume deliveries is by leveraging IMF for flexible versioning workflows. OWNZONES Connect ™, our content servicing and supply chain platform built in the cloud, specializes in IMF workflows. It creates studio quality IMF packages that can be delivered immediately to platforms like Netflix, or delivered downstream in any of the leading formats to any platform.
Let’s See IMF in Action
To learn more about IMF, watch this IMF 101 Tutorial webinar hosted by the IMF User Group where OWNZONES CTO Aaron Sloman walks audiences through Connect’s IMF workflow capabilities.
If you are interested in learning more about OWNZONES Connect, and how IMF packaging can optimize your media supply chain workflow, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.