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EBU, SMPTE announce joint task force on time, synchronization

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) are forming a new joint task force to examine and standardize future needs for timing and synchronization in moving picture and related industries.

The current methods of timing and synchronization for television, audio and other moving picture signals rely on standards that have been in place for more than 30 years. While these standards have proven to be robust solutions that have served the industry well, they are predicated on technologies that are becoming increasingly inappropriate for the digital age with, for example, networked content sharing or higher frame rate HDTV image formats; they now impose unacceptable limitations for the future.

The task force will begin by focusing on user requirements. Based on the input received from broadcasters, media and entertainment industries, the task force will publish one or more Requests for Technology (RFT). The industry's responses to these RFTs will subsequently be evaluated against the known user requirements. The outcome of this process will be a set of specifications that will be passed to the appropriate SMPTE technology committees for due process standardization.

The task force will be led jointly by Dr. Hans Hoffmann of the EBU Technical Department and Peter Symes, SMPTE director of standards and engineering. It will adhere to an aggressive time schedule with a goal to publish the final specification by the end of 2008.

An organizational meeting was held at the Institut National de L’audiovisuel (INA) in Paris on Sept. 12. It is anticipated that the first full meeting of the task force will be in New York on Nov. 5-6.

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