IMF: Output any version you need from a single master

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Interoprable Master Format is a system that allows you to specify all the versions of a feature film using a set of rules. Instead of rendering out every combination of language, aspect ratio, certification, distributor standard, you define how their rules apply to your movie. When a specific version is called for, it can then be rendered out automatically based on the media and the specific timeline included in an IMP (Interoperable Mastering Package).

Even if you don't work in high-end features, it is worth learning about this because it is coming to TV and online delivery in 2018. For now this IMF is for high-end tools, services and suppliers, but the nature of video production means that it will be the eventual standard most NLEs will support - maybe even directly, with few external tools.

This video – presented by Bruce Devlin (@mrMXF on Twitter) – is an introduction to IMF, and the first in a series, should you want to learn more:

(My YouTube playlist of videos on Interoperable Mastering Format in order)

The nature of Final Cut Pro X makes it potentially the best NLE to work with IMF. Apple could add features to the timeline required to generate IMPs. Compressor could generate specific versions of a film or TV show based on an IMP.

If Apple considers this the kind of feature best left to third-parties, I hope they add the required hooks to Final Cut so Frame.io (for example) could add IMF management to their Final Cut Pro X service.