SMPTE program to offer insight into IPTV

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers will kick off its new SMPTE Professional Development Academy (SMPTE PDA) Jan. 17 with an interactive webcast on IPTV.

The event, called “IPTV – What Does it Really Mean and How Does it Work?,” will offer a discussion of end-to-end IPTV systems and will feature Greg Thompson, chief video architect, Video & Content Networking Business Unit, Cisco, as a guest speaker.

IPTV Update caught up with SMPTE executive director Kimberly Maki and director of professional development Joel Welch to learn more about the event and the new SMPTE PDA effort.

IPTV Update: Obviously, when people think of SMPTE, they think of motion picture and television engineering. I was wondering what the organization’s decision to devote its inaugural Professional Development Academy webcast to IPTV says about the evolving importance of IPTV and the evolving nature of SMPTE?

Kimberly Maki: Yes, many folks think of motion pictures, film and broadcast television when they think of SMPTE. In actuality, our membership spans an even greater spectrum. For example, we also have cable, telco and satellite members. I think of it in terms of being all about the content, and there are professionals who are members of SMPTE in all sides of content — creation and management for the most part and then to some degree the distribution. Basically, the core of what we do affects all three and our membership reflects the desire of folks to be kept up to speed on the technology and standards in this area.

So, to your base question of why IPTV for our first SMPTE PDA Now webinar, data communications and networking are becoming an ever-growing part of what is happening in motion imaging. We see this as a hot topic of interest in the industry and among our membership. In early February, we are also hosting a joint conference with the Video Services Forum and traditionally IPTV has been a significant topic there.

Joel can address the topic a bit further, but basically, we hope to answer the question of what is IPTV from the SMPTE perspective since it seems to be mean many things to many people.

IPTV Update: What’s planned for the topics that will be covered in the Web cast on IPTV? Will the Web cast be confined to the so-called “walled garden” of a TelcoTV IPTV implementation, or will it cover the broader issue of distributing video over the public Internet as well?

Joel Welch: We plan to cover IPTV end-to-end from a technology perspective. We will provide a general explanation of IP and IP packets, how they are used to carry information, including video and audio signals. We will also go deeper, where it’s implemented, flow from source to distribution. By source, I mean upstream of the satellite, cable and telco distribution networks. Finally, we’ll look at some of the IPTV standards work underway.

IPTV Update: In what areas of IPTV technology do television engineers in general and your members in particular need the most education?

Joel Welch: That’s a good question. It really depends on which members you are talking about. In general, you have the folks who are at one end of the technology spectrum. They’re very technologically advanced individuals who are developing the standards and leading the way with IPTV implementation. Then there is a broader audience on the other end of the scale. They are technical in nature with a lot of practical experience who would like better general understanding of IPTV. I think a majority of what we will cover will address this broader base. We want to help answer questions about technology and give our audience direct access to experts to answer those questions.

IPTV Update: As television stations over the past several years have and are continuing to transition from a linear tape-based workflow to a file-based IT workflow, have television engineers become more familiar with IP networks and gained some knowledge that makes IPTV a more comfortable topic about which to learn?

Joel Welch: Absolutely. Many of our members now deal almost exclusively with IT-based infrastructures. But many more are interested in learning about IT-based systems and IPTV distribution, and we intend to make the education accessible to them.

IPTV Update: Who do you expect will attend?

Joel Welch: In looking at those who are registered so far, and seems to be a very broad range of IPTV knowledge.

IPTV Update: What’s the background of the webcast’s guest speaker Greg Thompson and can you give me a preview of his message?

Joel Welch: I won’t speak for him, but I will tell you that he has been in this area for many, many years. He was CTO of a company in this technology area before it was acquired by Cisco, and currently he is the chief video architect at Cisco’s Video & Content Networking Business Unit.

He is also very active in a lot of the IPTV standards development work, including several international standards organizations. He is probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry in IPTV.

IPTV Update: What is behind SMPTE’s launch of the SMPTE Professional Development Academy, its mission and plans?

Kimberly Maki: One of the first things I did when I came on board with SMPTE about a year ago was to solicit feedback from our members about what they wanted from their society. SMPTE has done a very credible job of standards development in the industry and is well-known for its standards development. We have already addressed issues such as Forward Error Correction optimized for IP transmission of video. We have a strong peer-reviewed journal for our members. Basically, the one area where we found that we needed to add more services was for the individual member who was developing his or her career and needed information on technology.

So we are doing a number of things including the Professional Development Academy to focus on education as a member benefit on an individual level – and these services can also be used by a member company for training purposes as well.

Tell Us What You Think! IPTVU invites response from our readers. Please submit your comments to We'll follow up with your comments in an upcoming issue.