[Tig] A call for open formats

Jack James jack at surrealroad.com
Sun Sep 11 11:45:00 BST 2011


Wanting around at IBC this year, one thing stuck me more than anything else. There are now more proprietary capture formats than ever before.

This isn't anything new, after all video has a long and unsavoury history of competing formats, much to the chagrin of everyone who backed HD-DVD for instance. But with digital formats becoming dominant, this has reached fever pitch. And I would argue, it's completely unnecessary at best, and at worst it's completely detrimental to the industry. 

RED gives no impression that their business model is anything other than packaging for a proprietary format. But they give you tools to work with it, that are for the most part pretty good, but also available for free. You can gain access to the SDK, but only if you are willing to sign an NDA. incredibly, this is the most accessible of all the formats. Silicon imaging want to charge you $1000+ just to decode footage shot on their cameras. And the new champion of digital camera formats, ArriRaw, is completely unsupported for the most part. I spoke to someone about the long awaited SDK, only to be told that it is actually available, but only to select Arri partners. Whatever the hell that means. And it goes on and on with the likes of Sony, Panasonic ad naseum. 

Granted, this is nothing new. But what I don't understand is why we as professionals dealing with the ramifications of all of this continue to do so with smiles on our faces. Everyone is excited at the Arri stand this year. The footage looks great. That is more important than the ability to post the footage, as perhaps it should be. But given the footage from the camera is so good, why limit the ability to properly work with it? Why shouldn't I be able to take my ArriRaw files into any post-house, regardless of the grading system or infrastructure used. Surely this would be best for Arri et al?

And worst of all, why do we, as the hapless victims of this situation, continue to allow it to happen? Why do we continue to evangelise a technology that is ultimately detrimental to our day to day lives? The visual effects industry managed to find a common ground with OpenEXR, I can only hope we might one day do the same.

Jack



More information about the Tig mailing list