Marquise Takes on IMF Mastering for UHD/HDR Video Deliverables

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At IBC 2016, Marquise Technologies showed updates to their mastering software made to help studios stay ahead of new trends in post-production that add complexity to distribution services. In particular, Marquise’s applications and systems can help manage the multiple deliverables that content producers currently require - source master, archival master, air master plus multiple versions of each of these.

Marquise MIST is for mastering, ICE is an accurate reference player for quality control of image, sound and metadata elements, and TORNADO is an API-controlled transcoding server. These products can be integrated to form a workflow or are available as stand-alone systems.

Interoperable Master Format

The company has put special effort into IMF, the Interoperable Master Format. After a slow uptake, IMF is now actively being used to exchange high quality content, mostly for 4K UHD and HDR productions from major studios and premium OTTs. Marquise has supported IMF since early on through its products. MIST, for example, has been in use in North America for delivering content to Netflix.

A stumbling block occurred in the rollout of IMF, mainly due to challenges in managing the complexity of IMF packages, which are made up of assets and metadata files that were not recognized by traditional MAMs. Marquise has addressed the problem by co-developing a series of product upgrades with IMC Technologies, a company that specialises in software for broadcast and post production organisations that need to bridge analogue video broadcasting systems with modern computer-based, multimedia processing.

Consequently, Marquise’s systems can store and retrieve not only IMF packages, but also the associated metadata, version files, DCP or any other file format. Both Marquise and IMC believe that managing IMF content was the 'missing link' in the expansion of package exchange, and that IMF is becoming the international standard format for file based exchange of cinema and video content. Every participant within the delivery chain, however, needs to be prepared with media management tools to best take advantage of the format.

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For IBC 2016, Marquise Technologies products gained one of the main functions in an IMF-based workflow, the Output Profile List. In MIST, standard OPLs were already supported and they are now also editable. The Image Crop/Scale and Audio routing standardized OPLs can be mixed with custom processing commands in a continuous rendering process.

Rendering and Mastering

Because Marquise finds that simple rendering is often confused with mastering, MIST has been built to run at a very high efficiency margin in the creation of complex and standardized deliverables, regardless of the source material. It has a very large number of tools available in the Mastering timeline, plus regular editing functionality and support for soundfields, segments and IMF sequences or markers.

Timed Text management allows you to edit subtitles and captions, including format and location. Subtitles support includes IMSC1 for IMF packages, various XML standards for Digital Cinema deliveries, and MXF SMPTE Timed Text for closed captions.

Among numerous colour grading functions, including ASC CDL, colour space management employs a full ACES pipeline. The latest version 1.0.3 of ACES is now available. ACES cc and ACES proxy are also implemented. HDR encoding supports the use of Hybrid Log-Gamma or the SMPTE ST-2084 HDR standard, and luminance monitoring with MAX FALL and MAX CLL indicators. Monitoring tools for image and sound include image scopes and CIE chromaticity diagrams, plus EBU rec128 loudness monitoring, phase and surround scopes for audio to allow close control of content quality.

Remote Rendering

Remote Rendering, a new module, updates this process to be more efficient and flexible than a render queue, through direct integration of the TORNADO transcoding server - MIST can now send and manage rendering jobs exported to a TORNADO appliance. This new configuration makes rendering independent from the mastering system. Several MIST systems can control one or many TORNADO servers, according to volume.

In MIST and ICE, as well as a rendering report, the results of IMF and DCP package validation can now be exported as a PDF. Also, custom markers, called Locators, allow you to place special comments at specific places in the timeline. Locators are created and edited in MIST, followed by QC using Locators to navigate in ICE. In order to improve quality control, ICE has added J-K-L controls similar to those in NLEs, more overlays and display options – all of which save time.