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Late last year, the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) Association sponsored a day-long event for post-production staff, broadcasters, programmers, tech-heads, and anyone else interested in learning more about the AAF. The program began with an overview of AAF and the AAF Association and then delved into more technical information, which included AAF use cases, real-world demos of the format in action, and technically oriented breakout sessions.

What is AAF? It is essentially a file interchange format specifically designed to move pictures, sound, and metadata from one system to another in a post-production environment. It basically “wraps” your media—including both light and dark metadata—in a format that AAF-supported products are guaranteed to understand.

Because AAF is an open-source initiative, no single company owns it. It is already standardized in the SMPTE dictionary. It is free, allowing manufacturers to develop products that include AAF and charge money for them. Structured Storage comes free with Windows for both the Mac and Intel platforms. There are also free implementations of Structured Storage available for Linux and IRIX, and other implementations are under development within the association.

For the initial development of AAF, Avid contributed most of the code, Microsoft the structured storage specifications, and Quantel the AAF-to-EDL converter. Pinnacle Systems, along with AOL Time Warner, is working on an XML representation of AAF metadata. Today, numerous companies, including Discreet, Panasonic, BBC Technology, Microsoft, Sony, and Apple are developing products that support AAF.