Tag Archives: IMF

Digging Deeper: Fraunhofer’s Dr. Siegfried Foessel

By Randi Altman

If you’ve been to NAB, IBC, AES or regional conferences involving media and entertainment technology, you have likely seen Fraunhofer exhibiting or heard one of their representatives speaking on a panel.

Fraunhofer first showed up on my radar years ago at an AES show in New York City when they were touting the new MP3 format, which they created. From that moment on, I’ve made it a point to keep up on what Fraunhofer has been doing in other areas of the industry, but for some, what Fraunhofer is and does is a mystery.

We decided to help with that mystery by throwing some questions at Dr. Siegfried Foessel, Fraunhofer IIS Department Moving Picture Technologies.

Can you describe Fraunhofer?
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is an organization for applied research that has 67 institutes and research units at locations throughout Germany. At present, there are around 24,000 people. The majority are qualified scientists and engineers who work with an annual research budget of more than 2.1 billion euros.

More than 70 percent of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s research revenue is derived from contracts with industry and from publicly financed research projects. Almost 30 percent is contributed by the German federal and Länder governments in the form of base funding. This enables the institutes to work ahead on solutions to problems that will become relevant to industry and society within the next five or ten years from now.

How did it all begin? Is it a think tank of sorts? Tell us about Fraunhofer’s business model.
The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft was founded in 1949 and is a recognized non-profit organization that takes its name from Joseph von Fraunhofer (1787–1826), the illustrious Munich researcher, inventor and entrepreneur. Its focus was clearly defined to do application-oriented research and to develop future-relevant key technologies. Through their research and development work, the Fraunhofer Institutes help to reinforce the competitive strength of the economy. They do so by promoting innovation, strengthening the technological base, improving the acceptance of new technologies and helping to train the urgently needed future generation of scientists and engineers.

What is Fraunhofer IIS?
The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS is an application-oriented research institution for microelectronic and IT system solutions and services. With the creation of MP3 and the co-development of AAC, Fraunhofer IIS has reached worldwide recognition. In close cooperation with partners and clients, the ISS institute provides research and development services in the following areas: audio and multimedia, imaging systems, energy management, IC design and design automation, communication systems, positioning, medical technology, sensor systems, safety and security technology, supply chain management and non-destructive testing. About 880 employees conduct contract research for industry, the service sector and public authorities.

Fraunhofer IIS partners with companies as well as public institutions?
We develop, implement and optimize processes, products and equipment until they are ready for use in the market. Flexible interlinking of expertise and capacities enables us to meet extremely broad project requirements and complex system solutions. We do contracted research for companies of all sizes. We license our technologies and developments. We work together with partners in publicly funded research projects or carry out commercial and technical feasibility studies.

IMF transcoding.

What is the focus of Fraunhofer IIS’ Department of Moving Picture Technologies?
For more than 15 years, our Department Moving Picture Technologies has driven developments for digital cinema and broadcast solutions focused on imaging systems, post production tools, formats and workflow solutions. The Department Moving Picture Technologies was chosen by the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) to develop and implement the first certification test plan for digital cinema as the main reference for all systems in this area. As a leader in the ISO standardization committee for digital cinema within JPEG, my team and I are driving standardization for JPEG 2000 and formats, such as DCP and the Interoperable Master Format (IMF.)

We also are working together with SMPTE and other standardization bodies worldwide. Renowned developments for the department that are highly respected are the Arri D20/D21 camera, the easyDCP post production suite for DCP and IMF creation and playback, as well as the latest developments and results of multi-camera/light-field technology.

What are some of the things you are working on and how does that work find its way to post houses and post pros?
The engineers and scientists of the Department Moving Picture Technologies are working on tools and workflow solutions for new media file formats like IMF to enable smooth integration and use in existing workflows and to optimize performance and quality. As an example, we always enhance and augment the features available through the post production easyDCP suite. The team discusses and collaborates with customers, industry partners and professionals in the post production and digital cinema industries to identify the “most wanted and needed” requirements.

easyDCP

We preview new technologies and present developments that meet these requirements or facilitate process steps. Examples of this include the acceleration process of IMF or DCP creation by using an approach based on a hybrid JPEG 2000 functionality or introducing a media asset management tool for DCP/IMF or dailies. We present our ideas, developments and results at exhibitions such as NAB, the HPA Tech Retreat and IBC, as well as SMPTE conferences and plugfests all around the world.

Together with distribution partners who are selling the products like easyDCP, Fraunhofer IIS licenses those developments and puts them into the market. Therefore, the team always looks for customer feedback for their developments that is supported by a very active community.

Who are some of your current customers and partners?
We have more than 1,500 post houses as customers, managed by our licensing partner easyDCP GmbH. Nearly all of the Hollywood studios and post houses on all continents are our customers. We also work together with integration partners like Blackmagic and Quantel. Most of the names of our partners in the contract research area are confidential, but to name some partners from the past and present: Arri, DCI, IHSE GmbH.

Which technologies are available for license now?
• Tools for creation and playback of DCPs and IMPs, as standalone tools and for integration into third party tools
• Tools for quality control of DCPs and IMPs
• Tools for media asset management of DCPs and IMPs
• Plug-ins for light-field-processing and depth map generation
• Codecs for mezzanine compression of images

Lightfield tech

What are you working on now that people should know about?
We are developing new tools and plug-ins for bringing lightfield technology to the movie industry to enhance creativity opportunities. This includes system aspects in combination with existing post tools. We are chairing and actively participating on adhoc groups for lightfield-related standardization efforts in the JPEG/MPEG Joint Adhoc Group for digital representations of light/sound fields for immersive media applications (see https://jpeg.org/items/20160603_pleno_report.html).

We are also working together with DIN on a proposal to standardize digital long-term archive formats for movies. Basic work is done with German archives and service providers at DIN NVBF3 and together with CST from France at SMPTE with IMF App#4. Furthermore, we are developing mezzanine image compression formats for the transmission of video over IP in professional broadcast environments and GPU accelerated tools for creation and playback of JPEG 2000 code streams.

How do you pick what you will work on?
The employees at Fraunhofer IIS are very creative people. By observation of the market, research in joint projects and cooperation with universities, ideas are created and evaluated. Employees and our student scientists are discussing with industry partners what might be possible in the near future and which ideas have the greatest potential. Selected ideas will then be evaluated with respect to the business opportunities and transformed into internal projects or proposed as research projects. Our employees are tasked with working much like our eponym Joseph von Fraunhofer, as researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs — all at the same time.

What other “hats” do you wear in the industry?
As mentioned earlier, Fraunhofer is involved in standardization bodies and industry associations. For example, I chair the Systems Group within ISO SC29WG1 (JPEG) and the post production group within ISO TC36 (Cinematography). I am also a SMPTE governor (EMEA and Central and South America region) and a SMPTE fellow, along with supporting SMPTE conferences as a program committee member.

Currently, I am president of the German Society Fernseh- und Kinotechnische Gesellschaft (FKTG) and am involved in associations like EDCF and ISDCF. Additionally, I’m a speaker for the German VDE/ITG society in the area of media technology. Last, but not least, I chair the German standardization body at DIN for NVBF3 and consult the German federal film board in questions related to new technical challenges in the film industry.

HPA’s SCRG mixer is back with table-led discussions, no panels

The HPA has re-envisioned its Sales Career Resource Group (SCRG) meetings with a new format and a new location for its networking cocktail mixers.

“We’ve taken a disruptive approach to SCRG, reshaping and rethinking it,” explains HPA president Seth Hallen. “SCRG has always been a place where colleagues met and shared important information, and that will remain. It’s still going to be full of great content and conversations… almost everything else about it is changing!”

“SCRG is coming back, as an afternoon of high-impact information exchanges, at a new venue, ending with networking and drinks,” says Josh Wiggins, chair of SCRG. “But that’s the pragmatics. What’s fundamentally important is that it’s an entirely different kind of gathering, where expert-led tables feature the latest conversation on topics that everyone needs to explore and learn about. By going away from the traditional panel, Q&A and putting attendees in direct contact with table leads, it’s a livelier exchange and one that offers a ton of the latest information.  And, of course, its great to have these conversations and then segue to a drink and further talk.”

The first event for SCRG is currently scheduled for early August at London Hotel in West Hollywood. It will feature table topics that include:
• IMF – For production, post and archive
• IMF – For delivery. How is it working for the buyers of all this great content?
• HDR Remaster – Can you re-master without creative (no director or colorist)?
• HDR Capture – Where’s my reference?
• Cloud & Rendering – How is it coming along?
• VR – Virtual reality in production and post
• VR – Virtual reality for delivery and consumption
• Archive – What needs archiving? How much bigger are these files getting? Serviceability? Archiving VR files?
• Audio – Interoperability for immersive audio
• Moore’s Law and transport of digital files
• Extras and complimentary content – Is it an extra the consumer needs or wants?
• Localization – Supply and demand and special cases, such as day and date needs

Rohde & Schwarz upgrades Clipster for IMF, adds Venice 4K

Rohde & Schwarz DVS has added key functions to its R&S Clipster IMF mastering workflow, including IMF-compliant closed captions and subtitles, composition playlist markers and forensic watermarking. The additional functions are aimed to make R&S Clipster’s IMF workflow a complete solution for UHD, 3D and Rec. 2020 mastering.

In the new version, the timeline can be used as usual to arrange all the content, including captions and subtitles. An integrated IMF delivery tool guides users through all the necessary steps to ensure the package they have created is IMF-compliant. Users can also play back UHD IMF content in real time for visual quality control. R&S Clipster now also supports NexGuard forensic watermarking, which lets content owners and their vendors protect prerelease content up to UHD and 4K.

Meanwhile, Rohde & Schwarz has expanded its R&S Venice ingest and production server product line with the new R&S Venice 4K server. With the new server, TV studios can set up file-based studio production workflows in 4K that, according to the company, can be as fast as similar HD workflows. R&S Venice 4K allows direct recording in 4K without any time-consuming stitching processes. At the same time, the material is converted to HD-SDI and saved as a file. This parallel generation of both HD and 4K content provides TV studios with a feasible transition option until content is broadcast entirely in 4K.

Rohde & Schwarz showing updates to Clipster at NAB

Rohde & Schwarz will be showing new features on the R&S Clipster at NAB 2015, which, according to the company, will offer a complete solution for UHD, 3D and Rec. 2020 mastering — including IMF-compliant closed captions & subtitles, composition playlist markers, and forensic watermarking.

Among other functions, Rohde & Schwarz DVS has added key features to offer a complete IMF workflow from a single solution: timeline marker authoring, captions, subtitles and forensic watermarking. The timeline can be used as usual to arrange all the content, including captions and subtitles. The integrated IMF delivery tool guides users through all the necessary steps so they are safe in the knowledge they have created a compliant IMF package.

Clipster also offers realtime playback of UHD IMF content, thus facilitating the visual quality control process. Support for UHD, captions, and subtitles also help smooth the transition to file-based workflows. 

R&S Clipster supports NexGuard forensic watermarking, so content owners and their vendors can protect pre-release content up to UHD & 4K with forensic watermarking.