Why IMF for archival applications?

IMF is an international standard that simplifies the exchange and long-term storage of component-based audio-visual archives.

The world is moving to component-based workflows

Workflows are increasingly becoming component-based, where the elements of a presentation (audio, video, timed text, etc.) are stored and processed individually.

This transition is driven by:

Instead of manufacturing and managing a large inventory of individual and independent masters, component-based workflows allow deliverables to be assembled just-in-time from available components to match the needs of the recipient.

IMF organizes loose components

IMF simplifies the interchange and storage of component-based audio-visual media:

By standardizing the representation of essence, metadata and timeline, IMF reduces the friction to automation, search, exchange and long-term exploitation. By defining a timeline, it ensures that audio-visual essence and metadata remain synchronized.

IMF is well-suited to replace ad hoc systems where the relationship between components is inferred through conventions (file name, directory layout, etc.) and where metadata is unstructured.

IMF works in the core or edge of an archive system

IMF can be used solely on the edge of an archive system, i.e. as a means of exchanging content in and out of the system. This allows the archive system to achieve consistent delivery and meet business requirements, while using its own internal storage and data models. These models can support legacy file formats or data models that go beyond that of IMF.

IMF can also be used within the archive system, as a long-term storage format or as the basis for the data model of the archive.

IMF supports a wide range of audio-visual essence and metadata

Today's IMF implementations support a wide range audio-visual essence, including 8K image, 96 kHz audio, immersive sound and rich timed text.

IMF can be easily extended with new kinds of audio-visual essence and metadata and such extensions can be standardized or remain user-specific. For example, film scanning metadata could be added to the timeline and arbitrary frame rates are possible. Similarly, it is possible to introduce additional frame rates with minimal effort.

IMF is a worldwide standard with a worldwide community

IMF is a worldwide standard developed by SMPTE, with applications that cover production, cinema, broadcast and streaming use cases. It has been continuously maintained since its initial publication in 2013.

IMF is also supported by the IMF User Group, which is a worldwide community of users and implementers.

IMF is based on proven standards

Whenever possible, IMF reuses proven and stable standards, such as MXF, XML, ACES and JPEG 2000. This reduces implementation costs and the viability of long-term storage.

IMF has open source and commercial implementations

In addition to several commercial products and services, IMF is supported by many open source projects, including:

  • Photon: validation of IMF packages
  • imscJS: timed text renderer
  • OpenJPEG: JPEG 2000 encoder and decoder
  • asdcplib: MXF wrapping and unwrapping
  • IMF Tool: Browsing and editing of IMF packages, binary installers available for macOS and Windows