The Reel Thing: Academy Debuts Digital Source Master Specs

At The Reel Thing conference in Hollywood, the Academy’s Science and Technology Council managing director Andy Maltz and Dr. Wolfgang Ruppel at Germany’s RheinMain University of Applied Sciences introduced the specifications of the Academy Digital Source Master, built on a suite of SMPTE standards. Maltz described the background that led to the Digital Source Master. “The Digital Dilemma published in 2007, identified open source software and digital file format standardization as key components to the solution,” he said.

Maltz explained the rationale for the creation of the Digital Source Master. “The ‘finished movie’ was never defined,” he said. “As a result there is a large variety of digital image files and metadata that gets delivered from final mastering. This makes reformatting for distribution and preparation for long-term archiving very labor intensive and error prone.” Ruppel revealed that the specifications for the Academy Digital Source Master just went live on the ACESCentral site.

The Academy Digital Source Master includes the already-established ACES2065-1 (Academy Color Encoding Specification), which defines a common color encoding method, as well as a specialization of IMF defined in Application #5 (SMPTE ST 2067-50) that adds ACES2065-1 images; the Academy Digital Source Master specification adds Look Modification Transforms (LMTs) to the package.

An LMT is an optional element used in combination with an ACES Output Transform to establish a creative “look.” The Digital Source Master package may also contain “sidecar assets” with composition-related metadata, as specified in SMPTE ST 2067-9. Ruppel noted that IMF #5 provides for human-readable metadata, and that the open-source IMF Tool will be ACES-ready in Q4 2018 and is already on GitHub.

“With the publication of the Academy DSM spec, and the recent launch of the Academy Software Foundation, two major steps toward solving the Digital Dilemma are now realized,” said Maltz. He and Ruppel added that the Academy Sci-Tech Council will sponsor a plugfest in October at the Pickford Center, where vendors will have the chance to test interoperability.

“ADSM is the solution for delivery and archiving of ACES master file sets and a future-proof data structure, based on industry requirements of all major Hollywood studios,” Maltz concluded. “Open Source software (with both the IMF Tool and C++ libraries) enables sustainable archiving and broad access.”

To review and comment (for free) on the Academy DSM spec, visit ACESCentral. For more information on the Academy Software Foundation (and to sign up to participate — also for free), visit here.