New file format gets Hollywood premiere

Nov 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

The Advanced Authoring Format association is hosting a coming out party for its file format on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The Nov. 19 Technology Awareness Event at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage is a one-day symposium to evangelize the AAF file format that is designed to enhance the post-production process.
Manufacturers are just beginning to ship product that incorporates AAF, and the association hopes the event can raise the awareness in Hollywood’s television and film production community. AAF is a file format used to move pictures, sound, metadata and other information between applications used in a post-production environment. “AAF is a wrapper,” said Brad Gilmer, executive director of the AAF association. “It’s a box with specific places inside where different things are stored, like time code, effects descriptions, URLs that describe where a particular piece of media is located.”
AAF was hatched in 1999 to enhance the post-production process and increase communication between the disparate tools that are used to create a finished product. “AAF is an attempt by the industry to create a standardized way of exchanging this information,” Mr. Gilmer said. AAF serves as a central repository to store information from different manufacturers needed to create a show or a film. Without AAF, manufacturers would need to write individual import and export routines for other vendors with which they want to interface.
Manufacturers attending the L.A. symposium will showcase products that now incorporate AAF. Avid Technology plans to bring shipping versions of its Media Composer and DSHD editing suites that include the import and export of AAF files.

At the event, Avid will demonstrate how to assemble a two-minute section of a TV show, using AAF to build the program from the different elements, said Tim Claman, director of interoperability and standards at Avid in Tewksbury, Mass. Source material for a show can include raw video footage, music, title sequences, graphics, transition effects, color correction and other elements, he said.
Other applications to be demonstrated by vendors include color correction, posting of high-quality film images and offline-to-online editing between different vendors.
AAF is in the early stages of adoption by Hollywood. “I think we are on the verge of an almost e-mail-like revolution, and AAF is the enabling technology piece,” Mr. Claman said.
Fox expects that within the next year it will produce shows using the AAF format, said Jim DeFilippis, VP, TV engineering, Fox Television.