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UNDERSTANDING SMPTE, world organization of motion pictures and television engineers!

SMPTE 2018 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition


Dear readers and film buffs! RAD TIMES is back with another article on SMPTE. With a new article comes a better understanding , penetration and information! Happy reading and do tell us how it was!

In the previous article we discussed about the SMPTE & it's education. In this article, you will be about the understanding of SMPTE.

A film set in action!


SMPTE was founded in 1916 to address the lack of standards in the emerging movie industry where there was no agreement on film width, image format, perforations, etc., and only a small chance that a specific film could be displayed on a given projector. Today, SMPTE maintains a multitude of standards for film gauges from 8mm to 70mm, covering all these parameters plus many others such as edge coding, analog, and digital sound. SMPTE standards also include lens mounts, spools, film processing and storage, cinema sound, and a plethora of other areas needed to ensure interoperability in a complex, global industry. The use of film is declining as it is supplanted by electronic imagery in both acquisition and display. However, SMPTE film standards continue to form the foundation for the industry, and a level of performance that is the benchmark for digital cinema.


There are 800-1000 different fields on which SMPTE works, for example, few of them are:

Data Encapsulation

The term encapsulation refers to the process of taking something complex and making it simple. Encapsulation takes information from a higher layer and adds a header to it, treating the higher layer information as data. It is often said, “One layer’s header is another layer’s data.” For example, as the data moves down the stack, application layer data is encapsulated in a layer 4 TCP segment. That TCP segment is encapsulated in a Layer 3 IP packet. That IP packet is encapsulated in a Layer 2 Ethernet frame. The frame is then converted into bits at Layer 1 and sent across the local network. Data, segments, packets, frames, and bits are examples of Protocol Data Units (PDUs).

Data encapsulation requires at least the reading function (get) which could be used by the maintenance tool to enable access to internal data in the event of operating issues.

Learn Data Encapsulation through a small course here.

Audio Encapsulation

It is the process to be able to use exiting audio formats by bringing them under one cover so that different needs ofthe Speaker Biometrics community are met without having to resort to using proprietary formats. Considering the various scenarios for audio interchange, three different goals are most prevalent.

Video Encapsulation

In order to make a smooth ride for video to screens other than the TV, that content may need to be re-packaged. That’s encapsulation. This is where the language of it gets almost visceral, in terms of how it works. Here’s another example, from a recent batch of notes: “What you do is, you strip off the IP header, de-jitter the stream, then restore it to MPEG format.”

Synchronization and Identification

Traffic Shaping and Delivery Timing

Background and System Overview

Film Dynamics on Continuous Motion Telecines

Apart from these SMPTE also provides the following: SMPTE is an internationally recognized standards development body. As such we abide by the ANSI and ISO due process for initiating, approving, revising and removing standards. For nearly 100 years, SMPTE has been the leader in standards for the motion imaging industry, facilitating interoperability and therefore business.

Published documents include standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines, all of which integrate to describe a particular process.

SMPTE Engineering Guidelines

  1. Engineering Guideline- Supplemental Information for 170 M and Background on the Development of NTSC colour Standards.

  2. Broadcast Exchange Format (BXF)

  3. Annotated Glossary of Essential Terms for Electronic Production

SMPTE Standards :

SMPTE is the leading standards development body for motion-imaging standards. Individuals and organizations from around the world come to SMPTE to develop standards that are adopted by manufacturers, broadcasters, and studios.

  1. For Video Recording -- 2 in 1 Magnetic Recording Tape

  2. For Television Analog Recording -- Frequency Response and Operating Level of Recorders and Reproducers -- Audio 1 Record on 2 in Tape Operating at 15 and 7.5 in/s.

  3. For Television Analog Recording -- 2 in Magnetic Tape for Quadruplex Recording Speed.

SMPTE & It's Technical Committees

Committee Scopes

The general scope of all Technology Committees is to develop SMPTE Engineering Documents; to Review existing documents to ensure that they are current with established engineering practices and are compatible with international engineering documents, where possible; to recommend and develop test specifications, methods, and materials; and to prepare tutorial material on engineering subjects for publication in the SMPTE Journal or for other means of dissemination benefiting the Society and the industry.

Content Creation Committees

The application of the General Scope as it applies to electronic capture, generation, editing, mastering, archiving, and reproduction of image, audio, subtitles, captions, and any other master elements required for distribution across multiple applications.

Applications Committees

Film 20F

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the application of mastered essence to theatrical film distribution, including, media and component creation, marking, laboratory methods, reproduction, packaging, projection, and related topics. Additionally film capture, editing and recording.

D-Cinema 21DC

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the application of mastered essence to theatrical digital distribution, including compression, encryption, wrapping, marking, packaging, media, logging, playout, projection, reproduction, and related topics.

Television and Broadband Media 24TB

The application of the General Scope as it applies to mastered essence for television and broadband distribution (both separately and for hybrid television/broadband environments), including compression, encryption, wrapping, marking, packaging, media, tracking/control, presentation, reproduction, and related topics.

Cinema Sound Systems 25CSS

The application of the General Scope as it applies to standards for cinema sound and cinema B-chain systems, including performance, measurements, setup, calibration, acoustics and related topics.

Infrastructure and Media Management Committees

Metadata/Registries 30MR

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the definition and implementation of the SMPTE Registration Authority, used to identify digital assets and associated metadata such as the definition of shared metadata semantics across multiple committees.

File Formats and Systems 31FS

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the definition of the common wrapper and file structures for storage, transmission, and use in the carriage of all forms of digital content components.


Facilities Infrastructure 32NF

The application of the General Scope as it applies to definition and control of elements supporting the infrastructures of content production and distribution facilities, including file management, transfer protocols, switching mechanisms, and physical networks that are both internal and external to the facility excluding unique final distribution methods.

Media Systems, Control and Services 34CS

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the implementation of media services, methods of managing and controlling hardware devices and software systems, and the management of media workflow processes, including associated signalling and control mechanisms.

Media Packaging and Interchange 35PM

The application of the General Scope as it applies to the packaging of media elements, to facilitate interchange and interperability of formats within specific integrated application ecosystems in the professional fields of media creation, production, post-production archiving and related topics.

SMPTE & partners:

SMPTE has many educational and business partners, to quote two of it's major partners are:

FUTURE MEDIA CONCEPTS, INC. (FMC), established in 1994, is the nation's premier digital media training organization providing manufacturer-authorized training in digital video and film editing, motion graphics, Web design and development, sound design, 3D animation, desktop publishing, architectural and mechanical design, Mac IT and mobile Apps development. FMC provides in-class, on-site and online training options for IT professionals, Apps developers and digital media professionals engaged in the creation, management and delivery of digital entertainment and media content.

FMC is an Authorized Training partner for Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Avid, Boris FX, NewTek and Softimage.

In 2015 HPA and SMPTE took their long-time collaboration to the next phase, formally joining forces. Since then HPA has extended its reach to serve and engage its membership to focus on serving the entire industry – from the engineering and technical professionals to the creative community that HPA nurtures and celebrates.

As the media industry continues to broaden its scope across platforms and distribution channels, HPA and SMPTE continue the vital collaboration to help our respective members navigate the exciting opportunities and challenges to make media compelling and accessible across the growing content ecosystem. Since serving the creative vision is a fundamental goal of technology, and technology drives change. Understanding how to create common approaches, standards and awareness is an important mission of the HPA. Joining forces with the foremost international standards organization for our industry has enabled the HPA to drive a global conversation about creativity and technology.

Additional Info: SMPTE in collaboration with HPA organises a SMPTE_HPA Student Film Festival for the new and talented film makers.

For more information, please click here -

NOTE: Also, the SMPTE Strategic Business Plan 2019-2021 is attached below with this article.

SMPTE Vision Statement

Enabling the technical framework and global professional community that makes motion picture, television and professional media available for all humanity to enjoy for artistic, educational and social purposes.

SMPTE Mission Statement

To drive the quality and evolution of motion pictures, television, and professional media through our global society of technologists, developers, and creatives by setting industry standards, providing relevant education, and fostering an engaged membership community.


Rasaaurdrama preview section is your best, most complete guide for all the theatre/films , big and small, coming your way soon. Happy Reading! E-mail at:​ ​


Adarsh is a Gwalior based writer. He calls himself :

"...a cinephile who loves to travel a lot and explore new things!"

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