Microsoft and Leading Professional Media Companies Release Advanced Authoring Format Specification
Specification Defines Media Authoring Interchange Standard
Redmond, Wash. - April 3, 1998 - Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Avid Technology Inc., Digidesign, Matrox Video Products Group, Pinnacle Systems Inc., Softimage Inc., Sonic Foundry Inc. and Truevision Inc., also known as The Multimedia Task Force (MMTF), today released the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF), a jointly authored specification. AAF is designed to boost productivity in the creation of television, motion picture and multimedia productions by enabling the easy exchange of rich media data among digital production tools and content-creation applications. The emergence of a standard for rich media interchange will simplify the increasingly digital process of media creation and will fuel industry growth.
"After we spoke with key players in the digital media production industry, it became clear that first-generation personal-computer-based multimedia file formats, such as AVI and WAV, were not capable of serving as interchange standards for professionally produced digital media," said David Cole, vice president of the Web client and consumer experience division at Microsoft. "With this feedback, Microsoft then set out to work with appropriate industry standards organizations and media industry companies to help forge a new, optimized standard for digital media production."
Members of the MMTF have been active participants in a comprehensive, long-term initiative by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU/SMPTE) to formalize standards for digital media production and transmission. AAF implements much of the preliminary work done by the EBU/SMPTE Wrappers and Metadata Subgroup and, as a design point, supports emerging SMPTE standards.
AAF will benefit professional film, video and audio production communities by allowing them to work with a broader range of tools and to focus their creative energies on the quality of their content without having to convert media file formats. Tools developers will be able to focus on a broadly accepted file format that works with a wide range of systems.
AAF Builds Upon Recognized Industry Formats
All the MMTF members contributed intellectual property, component technology and ideas in the development of this new format. AAF is a truly open format in that its specification is publicly available, it is not owned by any single company, and it has been submitted unencumbered to industry standards organizations. In addition, the specification builds on a number of recognized industry formats, including the Open Media Framework Interchange® (OMFI) format, licensed from Avid, and Structured Storage, an open container format by Microsoft, both of which have been submitted to standards organizations including SMPTE.
AAF Targets Drawbacks of Current Multimedia Formats
AAF is designed to address the interchange drawbacks of existing multimedia file formats, such as AVI and WAV, that are not cross-platform, cannot be edited without rewriting the entire file and cannot describe compositions with multiple layers or elements. This is a particularly difficult problem for high-end entertainment applications that must integrate multimedia of diverse types (e.g., video, audio, graphic elements, MIDI) and capture tools (e.g., cameras, keyboards, audio input, scanners) and then remix or edit those files while maintaining split-second synchronizations.
In contrast, AAF is a format that focuses exclusively on the needs of authoring, without the constraints associated with trying to meet the needs of consumer distribution. It allows true, comprehensive collaboration among digital artists and full use of the power of computer-based creative tools.
The AAF unified data model enables applications as different as audio editing and 3-D graphics animation to work together to produce a final presentation without the need for each to recognize and interpret the other's domain-specific data.
The new specification complements the Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) that Microsoft and industry leaders introduced last fall. ASF addresses the problems of media delivery and streaming over a network.
Microsoft plans to implement AAF in future versions of the Microsoft® Windows® operating system. The specification will be available for public review by free download from the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/aaf/ (connect-time charges may apply). In addition, an Advanced Authoring Format Software Development Kit (AAF SDK) is scheduled to be available later in 1998.
About Adobe Systems Inc.
Based in San Jose, Calif., Adobe Systems Inc. develops and supports products to help people express and use information in more imaginative and meaningful ways across print and electronic media. Founded in 1982, Adobe helped launch the desktop publishing revolution. Today, the company offers a market-leading line of application software and type products for creating and distributing visually rich communication materials; licenses its industry-standard technologies to major hardware manufacturers, software developers and service providers; and offers integrated software solutions to businesses of all sizes. For more information, see Adobe's home page at (http://www.adobe.com/) on the World Wide Web.
About Avid Technology Inc.
Avid Technology Inc. is an international, industry-leading provider of digital effects, audio, film and video tools for creating content for information and entertainment applications. Avid's products are used by customers ranging from communications professionals to film, television and interactive content producers to broadcast news organizations. For more information, visit Avid's World Wide Web site at (http://www.avid.com/).
Digidesign, a division of Avid Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: AVID), is the leading digital audio production software and systems manufacturer for the professional music, film, video, multimedia and broadcast radio industries. Digidesign's products integrate the tools required for CD-quality digital recording, random-access editing, advanced signal processing, and digital audio mixing applications. Digidesign products are marketed in over 30 countries worldwide, through a distribution network of value-added dealers, distributors and OEM relationships.
About Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd.
For 22 years, Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd. has been the technology leader in the development of computer-based digital video hardware and software tools. A privately held company headquartered in Dorval, Quebec, Matrox employs more than 1,200 people dedicated to the design, development and manufacturing of strategic products in all areas of the communications world: video, graphics, imaging and networking. Additional information about Matrox and Matrox® products is available via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the World Wide Web at (http://www.matrox.com/video/).
About Microsoft Corp.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
About Pinnacle Systems Inc.
Pinnacle Systems' broadcast, desktop and consumer groups provide video professionals and consumers with the cutting-edge tools needed to create dazzling productions faster and more affordably than ever before. These innovative digital video manipulation tools perform a variety of on-air, production and post-production functions such as the addition of special effects, image management, capture, storage and playout, as well as graphics and title creation. The company's broadcast and desktop product lines incorporate specialized real-time video processing circuitry for the ultimate in performance and creative flexibility. Pinnacle Systems may be reached at (650) 526-1600 or on the World Wide Web at (http://www.pinnaclesys.com/).
About Softimage Inc.
Founded in 1986, Softimage develops software for media-rich applications including video, film, interactive games and CD-ROM applications. Products include SOFTIMAGE®|DS (video production), SOFTIMAGE|3D (high-end animation), SOFTIMAGE|EDDIE (compositing) and Toonz (2-D cel animation). The company was acquired in 1994 by Microsoft. Additional information about Softimage and Microsoft can be found via the Internet at http://www.softimage.com/ and http://www.microsoft.com/, respectively.
About Sonic Foundry Inc.
Sonic Foundry Inc. develops and markets award-winning digital audio software for the Windows platform. The Sonic Foundry product line is sold internationally for use in a range of applications, including music production, multimedia and Web development, and broadcast production.
About Truevision Inc.
Truevision Inc. is the leader in desktop video for business and broadcast and offers a full range of videographics products for personal computers, including Apple Power Macintosh and the Microsoft Windows NT® operating system. The company pioneered the videographics industry in 1984 and remains a market and technology leader.
For additional information, contact Truevision, 2500 Walsh Ave., Santa Clara, CA 95051, (800) 522-8783. Information about Truevision's complete line of TARGA video engines is available by faxback at (800) 522-8783 (in the United States) or (317) 577-8788 (internationally), or on the Web at (http://www.truevision.com/).
Microsoft, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Open Media Framework Interchange and OMFI are registered trademarks of Avid Technology Inc.
Softimage is a registered trademark of Softimage Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft Corp.
Matrox is a registered trademark of Matrox Electronic Systems Ltd.
Sonic Foundry and Sound Forge are trademarks of Sonic Foundry Inc.
Other product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information pages.
Multimedia Task Force Comments on AAF
Adobe Systems Inc.
"The Advanced Authoring Format will enable our professional customers to work even more efficiently in an increasingly multiplatform world. This will further Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Illustrator and Photoshop as the standard for digital video content creation."
- Matt Douglas
Premiere Product Manager
Avid Technology Inc.
"Creative professionals benefit from open, all-digital environments. Avid's involvement in AAF clearly demonstrates our commitment to open systems, industry standards and broader interoperability across platforms and applications. The licensing and adoption of OMFI by the AAF task force as the foundation for the new authoring format highlights OMFI's proven value in the film and television post-production processes."
- Bill Miller
Chairman and CEO
Matrox Video Products Group
"Matrox is pleased to be a contributor to this important industry effort to standardize the interchange of video, audio, still images and graphics to meet the needs of broadcast, post-production and multimedia professionals. We particularly look forward to extending AAF to include video and audio effects attributes, text scroll and crawl descriptors, and 3-D graphics animation control."
- Alain Legault
Vice President, Product Development
Pinnacle Systems Inc.
"Pinnacle Systems is pleased to participate in the Multimedia Task Force and, along with other industry leaders, to help define the AAF specification. Although there has been a rapid adoption of nonlinear editing technology, a lack of standardization has created incompatibilities and confusion between existing solutions. The benefits of fluid rich media interchange is a huge plus for customers as well as participating companies."
- Ajay Chopra
Vice President and General Manager, Desktop Products
"Our market is the high-end film and video post-production community, which struggles with integrating diverse media types on a daily basis. We believe that AAF will, for the first time, remove the file-format barriers and allow digital artists to focus on creativity."
- Claude Cajolet
Director of Technology
Sonic Foundry Inc.
"At Sonic Foundry we expect the broadened use and support of AAF will have tremendous benefits to the burgeoning media content-creation market. Sonic Foundry wholeheartedly supports this effort as an important advancement in standardizing media content creation and the obvious benefits to delivery. We view the AAF as the most robust cross-platform interchange file format available today, and certainly a format that helps simplify the authoring needs of today's media professionals. We expect the AAF standard will positively improve all aspects of media delivery including offering support for multiple media types, robust compatibility and overall scalability."
- Rimas Buinevicius
"We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft and the other members of the MMTF on the definition and implementation of AAF. We believe that a broadly supported authoring format like AAF will help our professional customers solve the problems of interoperability and provide a valuable framework for the development of next-generation media content. Truevision is committed to the development of high-performance solutions for video professionals that run on Windows NT."
- Lou Doctor
President and CEO