CLASS - Software Workflows

Bruce Devlin - new

Published: 27 January 2020

CLASS - Software Workflows

NAB is approaching. Apart from deciding on whether to come for a bike ride with myself and the KitPlus Team, you should also be thinking about what information you want to get from the vendors and the thought leaders that will stay relevant long enough be deployed.

At the DPP Tech Leader's Briefing in London in November2019, there seemed to be a common theme amongst all the content creators, broadcasters, aggregator and facilities. They don't want to be sold to. They want to have a partnership with their vendors. Now a cynic (who .. me?) might say that this is business as usual and that every media company just want to have special kit built for them but at a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) prices point.

Despite my normal mix of optimism and cynicism, I think something different is happening at the beginning of 2020. There is a lot of change in media business models, there are a lot of companies trying to figure out if being big or being small is the right survival strategy. There are many companies grouping together in alliances to figure out how to push new technology or existing technology or business models. It also seems that no two companies or alliances are at the same stage of maturity in their push towards the future. The only thing there is no shortage of is uncertainty.

Technologies such as SMPTE ST 2110 and SMPTE IMF and Cloud and SDN (Software Defined Networking) are all leading towards a versatile and flexible Software Defined Workflow future for both Live and Scripted genres. Despite this common trajectory we find that short term concerns, including trading healthily, generate different requirements depending on how mature your company's adoption of these software methodologies is. I believe it's this difficulty in fulfilling short term requirement that is causing friction within our industry and, as a consequence, causing many companies to look for partners to share risk and move towards the future in a more cooperative fashion.

Curiously, I have heard in several conferences and symposiums that "We should have standards so that all this software just works\" as well as "We have to be multi-cloud so we don't get locked in\" and "why doesn't SMPTE make a standard for this\" and finally "I'd love to take part, but I don't have time to do SMPTE standards".

I truly wish that I had a magic wand to make life a little easier, but I'm afraid that the SMPTE Standards Vice President role didn't come with a book of magic incantations. It did, however, give me powers to do some quite specific things:-

  1. Introduce some relevant software tooling to SMPTE
  2. Introduce a standards process more in tune with software development methodologies
  3. Create a software task force to address structural issues when standardising software
  4. Encourage closer relationships with other trade associations and groups because not every International Standard needs to start life in SMPTE. It just needs to end up there when it's stable.

Above all, the message I am hearing is that companies of all sizes want to partner and cooperate so that the future turns out the way that they want it to. At the interface between these partnerships, there is a bigger need than ever for an organisation like SMPTE to ensure interoperability and to make seamless software workflows a reality. Searching for partnerships isn't being special; it's being sensible.

Finally, and most importantly, there will be a kitplus and mrmxf bike ride on Saturday morning at NAB 2020. If you want to come along, then check out for details. Bring water and bad jokes!

ciao for now


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