AMWA unveils new MXF Commercial Delivery spec

The Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) released a new MXF Commercial Delivery specification, AS-12, on the opening day of the 2012 NAB Show conference program, April 14.

The constrained version of MXF has been developed to enable more efficient handling of commercials through the many transactional and media processing operations between conception and air.

As broadcasters look to serve commercials to long tail delivery platforms as well as their primary channels, controlling costs is important. Many versions may exist of the same commercial, adding confusion to the traffic operations. Versions may be sourced from different distribution routes, arriving with different wrappers and codecs, as well as different aspect ratios.

MXF Commercial Delivery aims to solve two problems: unique identification, and defining a master spot for the creation of long-tail versions.

MXF Commercial Delivery unambiguously identifies the spot through the Ad-ID unique identifier carried in a digital slate. Current practice to identify commercials is by the visual slate preceding the commercial. Although a human operator can read this by playing the commercial, it does not lend itself to use by automated systems.

With MXF Commercial Delivery, the advertisement identification metadata is carried as a Descriptive Metadata track and serves as a digital slate. The digital slate can be used to reconcile the video and audio components of the commercial with the traffic instruction thus preventing expensive mistakes. The Ad-ID unique identifier ensures that what the advertiser ordered gets to air.

MXF Commercial Delivery, AS-12, is an addition to AS-03, MXF for Delivery. AS-03 defines MXF files optimized for program delivery, and intended for direct playout via a video server. Used together, the specifications allow the agency to supply broadcasters with a master commercial, along with information like closed captions and AFD that the broadcaster can use to create the lower resolution versions appropriate to their long-tail delivery platforms.

The AS-12 metadata or digital slate can be created early in the production process to uniquely identify the commercial. AS-12 carries fields to identify the advertiser, the agency, brand and product, as well as the title. Through the use of the guaranteed unique Ad-ID, the rekeying of identifiers that typically happens today is avoided.

House codes used by agencies or broadcasters are replaced with the Ad-ID, avoiding many of the issues of misidentified commercials that have been commonplace.