The December ISDCF Plugfest was put on hold, and is rescheduled for February. One of its goals is to examine the interoperability of hard drives carrying both Interop DCP and SMPTE DCP content. Another goal that’s emerging is the long overdue evaluation of rendering with Japanese text.
A subject perhaps long overdue for improved guidance is that of placing multiple contents on a single hard drive. SMPTE 429-9 Asset Mapping and File Segmentation provides guidance for the creation of SMPTE asset maps, and Interop has a parallel document. Both, however, prescribe only one asset map per hard drive, which poses a problem when users combine multiple sources of content onto one drive. In fact, that problem has existed for years in a different manifestation, where multiple sources of content are combined on a drive by a service provider, as pointed out in recent months by service providers around the world. The practical thing to do is to retain individual asset maps within a unique folder per DCP, which many service providers do, but again, this doesn’t follow the standards, either.
Evidently, the issue hasn’t been painful enough to generate a discussion. ISDCF posted a reference document on the subject of multiple assets on a single drive 3 1/2 years ago, online at http://isdcf.com/papers/ISDCF-Doc3-Filesystem-Structure.pdf. The document was intended to open up the subject of combined Interop and SMPTE DCP content on a single drive. Now that SMPTE DCP content is beginning to appear in releases such as the HFR version of Hobbit and in releases containing Dolby Atmos tracks, there is finally incentive to formally address the matter.
A substantial evaluation of subtitle rendering performance was conduced by ISDCF this past year. The benefit of this effort has been to cause greater consistency among vendors in rendering subtitles using a Latin character set. But complaints have recently been heard from Japan, where problems exist when rendering Japanese text on-screen. No doubt similar issues must exist across all East Asian countries, and it is surprising that so little has been heard before this. Yoshi Gonno, a systems engineering manager at Sony, and well known in ISDCF, has organized an ISDCF-like group in Japan, and through it is preparing Japanese test materials for the evaluation of on-screen rendering performance of systems in the US. Another area where such materials could have significant impact is in understanding any weaknesses that may exist with the SMPTE closed caption standard. This could be a first for international outreach towards improving the performance of systems and potentially improving standards, and hopefully won’t be the last.