A worldwide standard for the interfacing of technologies from different vendors has come a step closer thanks to an initiative being backed by IBM, Sony and the BBC.

The proposal to create a Framework for Interoperable Media Services (FIMS) is being driven by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the US-based Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA).

FIMS is intended to prescribe a common set of IT standards for the linking together of various broadcast hardware and software products in a non-live environment.

Currently, many products are proprietary and require customised code to work with each other - for example, within a broadcast playout operation.

FIMS will be based on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), an IT-based approach that has already been implemented in the insurance, banking and health sectors, but is not yet widespread in media and entertainment.

AMWA executive director Brad Gilmer said the need to act on the issue was obvious. “Media companies are being asked to deliver more programmes to more platforms while operating under a very restricted economic environment.

“They care about FIMS because it provides a standardised framework within which they can design and implement facilities now, and also allow them to more rapidly adapt to the future.”

Previous efforts around MXF and AAF have focused on fi le formats. While this work is important, it is not sufficient to link together workflows in modern facilities.

“Broadcasters should be able to simply exchange a product for another without impacting its operations,” said Gilmer.

“It would also mean that vendors can invest more time inventing new products rather than writing numerous ad hoc
interfaces to make existing products work.”

The first phase of FIMS will consist of a common service definition format and will be based on IBM and Sony SOA systems, with input from developers Amberfin and Cinegy, and users including BBC R&D.

Work will continue publicly via the FIMS wiki - http://wiki.amwa.tv/ebu - and open meetings will be held to allow third parties to actively contribute.

Picture: Cinegy Monitor