IMF, ProRes XQ and other advanced formats are designed to support the highest level of picture and sound quality, while enabling content owners and distributors to streamline the complex versioning required to bring content to an expanding global market. They can also help maximize storage and infrastructure investments as 4K/UHD and HDR take hold. Built to support componentized assets in both base and supplemental packages, IMF can carry the compositional and profile metadata that hardware and software toolsets need to correctly play back and transcode the various versions of a title the way it was intended, with the least amount of media essence duplication possible.
The increased resolution, bit depth, and color gamut that these formats support results in much larger data sizes than traditional HD and SD media assets. It’s not uncommon for UHD and HDR assets to be 10x larger than their HD predecessors. This means longer ingest, render, and delivery times, necessitating higher performance storage pools and upgraded or new hardware and software toolsets to efficiently handle the creation, editorial, transcode, and packaging of these formats. Speed to market and quality, two things on which monetization hinges, are at stake. Today, the pace at which the ecosystem is evolving – new UHD/HDR platforms launching, toolsets updating, new endpoints coming online, and the advanced formats themselves evolving – means that processes, standards, and specifications are constantly changing. Making sure every file is deploying correctly to deliver the highest possible quality is challenging.
We are working hard to enable our customers as they embrace these formats and bring their advanced format content to audiences around the world. With our experience building a digital system that services 200+ content owners, delivering 60,000 assets every month to 2,000+ worldwide end points, and creating more than a thousand IMPs last year alone, Deluxe’s infrastructure, expertise and technology have been supporting the advanced format ecosystem since its inception – and as it evolves.
Specifically, we work closely with the industry’s leading hardware and software developers and their toolsets; collaborating with them in the R&D stage to test and tune early versions and workflows. In these early days, it means we frequently write custom code to connect tools and workflows as we work with our industry partners to pioneer these new formats.
With the launch of each new format, channel, OTT portal, and distribution platform, we’ve worked closely with content providers and distributors to optimize their pipelines, processes, and specific format variants, often creating and delivering the first batches of files released to consumers. We take pride in delivering the best possible product and service as we work across the various advanced formats and toolsets to make sure that every piece of content that reaches consumers reflects the same high quality that was delivered in the final graded masters.
We have a large team of engineers and technicians dedicated to advanced format workflows and technologies, and an in-house international IMF task force of 30+ people assessing requirements and aligning the Deluxe infrastructure to make sure our approach and processes are globally consistent. We tripled our investment in IMF QC last year and today have one of the world’s only 24-hour advanced format operations.
The global content ecosystem is increasingly embracing IMF and other advanced formats for interchange, complex versioning, and mezzanine workflows. As an innovator and enabler, Deluxe will continue to bridge the continually-emerging gaps of content creation and distribution through technology, global scale, and relationships.