Tag Archives: IMF

Talking localization with Deluxe’s Chris Reynolds

In a world where cable networks and streaming services have made global content the norm, localization work is more important than ever. For example, Deluxe’s global localization team provides content creators with transcription, scripting, translation, audio description, subtitling and dubbing services. Their team is made up of 1,300 full-time employees and a distributed workforce of over 6,000 translators, scripting editors, AD writers and linguistic quality experts that cover more than 75 languages.

Chris Reynolds

We reached out to Chris Reynolds, Deluxe’s SVP/GM of worldwide localization, to find out more.

Can you talk about dubbing, which is a big part of this puzzle?
We use our own Deluxe-owned studios across the globe, along with our extensive partner network of more than 350 dubbing studios around the world. We also have technology partners that we call on for automated language detection, conform, transcription and translation tools.

What technology do you use for these services?
Our localization solution is part of Deluxe’s cloud-based platform, Deluxe One. It uses cloud-based automation and integrated web applications for our workforce to help content creators and distributors who need to localize content in order to reach audiences.

You seem to have a giant well of talent to pull from.
We’ve been building up our workforce for over 15 years. Today’s translations and audio mixes have to be culturally adapted so that content reflects the creative and emotional intent of writers, directors and actors. We want the content to resonate and the audience to react appropriately.

How did Deluxe build this network?
Deluxe launched its localization group over 15 years ago, and from the beginning we believed that you need a global workforce to support the demands of global audiences so they could access high-quality localized content quickly and affordably.

Because our localization platform and services have been developed to support Deluxe’s end-to-end media supply chain offering, we know how to provide quality results across multiple release windows.

We continue to refine our services to simplify reuse of localized assets across theatrical, broadcast and streaming platforms. The build-up of our distributed workforce was intentional and based on ensuring that we’re recruiting talent whose quality of work supports these goals. We match our people to the content and workflows that properly leverage their skill sets.

Can you talk about your workflow/supply chain? What tools do you call on?
We’ve been widening our use of automation and AI technologies. The goal is always to speed up our processes while maintaining pristine quality. This means expanding our use of automated speech recognition (ASR) and machine translation (MT), as well as implementing automated QC, conversion, conform, compare and task assignment features to streamline our localization supply chain. The integration of these technologies into our cloud-based localization platform has been a significant focus for us.

Is IMF part of that workflow?
IMF is absolutely a part of the workflow, In fact, driving its adoption is the rapid growth of localized international iterations for over-the-top (OTT), video on demand (VOD), and subscription video on demand (SVOD). Deluxe has been using localized component workflows since their inception, which is the core concept that IMF uses to simplify versioning.

Is the workflow automated?
To an extent … adding new technology into our workflow is designed to make things more efficient. And these technologies are not meant as a replacement for our talent. Automation helps free up those artists from the more manual tasks and allows them to focus on the more creative aspects of localization.

By using automation in our workflows, we have been able to take on additional projects and explore new areas in M&E localization. We will continue to use workflow automation and AI/ML in our work.

Can you talk about transcription and how you handle that process?
Transcription is a critical part of the localization process and is a step that demands the highest possible quality. Whether we’re creating a script, delivering live or prerecorded captions, or creating an English template for subsequent translations, the initial transcription must be accurate.

Our teams use ASR to help speed up the process, but because the expectation is so high and many transcription tasks also require annotation that current AI technologies can’t deliver, our human workforce must review, qualify, amend and adapt the ASR output.

All of our transcription work undergoes a secondary QA at some point. Sometimes the initial deliverable is immediate, as is the case with live captions, but even then, revisions are often made during secondary key-outs or before the file is delivered for subsequent downstream use.

What are some of the biggest challenges for localization?
The rise in original content distribution and global distribution and the need to localize that content faster than ever is probably the biggest general challenge. We also continue to see new competitors entering the already crowded market.

And it’s not just competitors — customers are challenging our industry standards too, with some bringing localization in house. To accommodate this change, we’re always adapting and refining workflows to fit what our customers need. We are always checking in with them to make sure our teams can anticipate change and create solutions that solve challenges before they impact the rest of the supply chain.

What are some projects that you’ve worked on recently?
Some examples are Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian, The Irishman, Joker, Marriage Story and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Finally, taking into account the COVID-19 crisis, I imagine that worldwide content will be needed even more. How will this affect your part of the process?
The demand for in-home entertainment continues to climb, mainly driven by an uptick in OTT and gaming in light of these unprecedented events. We are working with creators, media owners and platforms to provide localization services that can help respond to this recent influx in the global distribution of films and series.

Unfortunately, because several productions and dubbing studios around the world have had to shut down, there will be delays getting new content out. We’re working closely with our customers to complete as much work as we can during this time so that everyone can ramp up quickly once things start back up.

We’re also seeing big increases in catalog content orders for streaming platforms. Our teams are helping by providing large-scale subtitle and audio conforms, creating any new subtitles as needed, and creating dubbed audio versions for those languages that are not affected by studio closures.

Is television versioning about to go IMF?

By Andy Wilson

If you’ve worked in the post production industry for the last 20 years, you’ll have seen the exponential growth of feature film versioning. What was once a language track dub, subtitled version or country specific compliance edit has grown into a versioning industry that has to feed a voracious number of territories, devices, platforms and formats — from airplane entertainment systems to iTunes deliveries.

Of course, this rise in movie versioning has been helped by the shift over the last 10 years to digital cinema and file-based working. In 2013, SMPTE ratified ST 2067-2, which created the Interoperable Master Format (IMF). IMF was designed to help manage the complexity of storing high-quality master rushes inside a file structure that allowed the flexibility to generate multiple variants of films through constraining what was included in the output and in the desired output formats.

Like any workflow and format change, IMF has taken time to be adopted, but it is now becoming the preferred way to share high-quality file masters between media organizations. These masters are all delivered in the J2K codec to support cinema resolutions and playback technologies.

Technologists in the broadcast community have been monitoring the growth in popularity and flexibility of IMF, with its distinctive solution to the challenge of multiple versioning. Most broadcasters have moved away from tape-based playout and are instead using air-ready playout files. These are medium-sized files (50-100Mb/s), derived from high quality rushes that can be used on playout servers to create broadcast streams. The most widespread of these includes the native XDCAM file format, but it is fast being overtaken by the AS-11 format. This format has proved very popular in the United Kingdom, where all major broadcasters made a switch to AS-11 UK DPP in 2014. AS-11 is currently rolling out in the US via the AS-11 X8 and X9 variants. However, these remain air-ready playout files, output from the 600+Mb/s ProRes and RAW files used in high-end productions. AS-11 brings some uniformity, but it doesn’t solve the versioning challenge.

Versioning is rapidly becoming as big an issue for high-end broadcast content as for feature films. Broadcasters are now seeing the sales lifecycle of some of their programs running for more than 10 years. The BBC’s Planet Earth is a great example of this, with dozens of versions being made over several years. So the need to keep high-quality files for re-versioning for new broadcast and online deliveries has become increasingly important. It is crucial for long-tail sales revenue, and productions are starting to invest in higher-resolution recordings for exactly this reason.

So, as the international high-end television market continues to grow, producers are having to look at ways that they can share much higher quality assets than air-ready files. This is where IMF offers significant opportunity for efficiencies in the broadcast and wider media market and why it is something that has the attention of producers, such as the BBC and Sky. Major broadcasters such as these have been working with global partners through the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) to help develop a new specification of IMF, specifically designed for television and online mastering.

The DPP, in partnership with the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA) and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), have been exploring what the business requirements are for a mastering format for broadcasting. The outcome of this work was published in June 2017, and can be downloaded here.

The work explored three different user requirements: Program Acquisitions (incoming), Program Sales (outgoing) and Archive. The sales and acquisition of content can be significantly transformed with the ability to build new versions on the fly, via the Composition Playlist (CPL) and an Output Profile List (OPL). The ability to archive master rushes in a suitably high-quality package will be extremely valuable to broadcast archives. The addition of the ability to store ProRes as part of an IMF is also being welcomed, as many broadcaster archives are already full of ProRes material.

The EBU-QC group has already started to look at how to manage program quality from a broadcast IMF package, and how technical assessments can be carried out during the outputting of materials, as well as on the component assets. This work paves the way for some innovative solutions to future QC checks, whether carried out locally in the post suite or in the cloud.

The DPP will be working with SMPTE and its partners to fast track a constrained version of IMF ready for use in the broadcast and online delivery market in the first half of 2018.

As OTT video services rely heavily on the ability to output multiple different versions of the source content, this new variant of IMF could play a particularly important role in automatic content versioning and automated processes for file creation and delivery to distribution platforms — not to mention in advertising, where commercials are often re-versioned for multiple territories and states.

The DPP’s work will include the ability to add ProRes- and H.264-derived materials into the IMF package, as well as the inclusion of delivery specific metadata. The DPP are working to deliver some proof-of-concept presentations for IBC 2017 and will host manufacturer and supplier briefing days and plugfests as the work progresses on the draft version of the IMF specification. It is hoped that the work will be completed in time to have the IMF specification for broadcast and online integrated into products by NAB 2018.

It’s exciting to think about how IMF and Internet-enabled production and distribution tools will work together as part of the architecture of the future content supply chain. This supply chain will enable media companies to respond more quickly and effectively to the ever-growing and changing demands of the consumer. The DPP sees this shift to more responsive operational design as the key to success for media suppliers in the years ahead.

Andy Wilson is head of business development at DPP.

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.


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.