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Adobe spearheads open format for digital cinema files

Posted: 16 Apr 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital video format? digital still camera? raw file format?

Adobe Systems Inc. has disclosed plans to lead an initiative to define an industry-wide open file format for digital cinema files to streamline workflows and help ensure easy archiving and exchange.

The company intends to leverage its Digital Negative Specification (DNG) file format as a foundation, and plans to work with a broad coalition of leading camera manufacturers, including Panavision, Silicon Imaging, Dalsa, Weisscam, and ARRI along with software vendors Iridas and The Foundry, and codec provider CineFormto define the requirements for an open, publicly documented file format that it plans to call CinemaDNG.

Adobe is currently working to develop the requirements of the CinemaDNG workflow and intends to subsequently publish a specification for the file format based on collaboration with companies throughout the industry.

"With the CinemaDNG initiative, Adobe is extending its leadership in developing open, interchangeable formats for digital still cameras into the realm of digital cinematography," said Jim Guerard, VP of dynamic media at Adobe. "By taking a proactive role and working collaboratively with leading digital cinema manufacturers, Adobe is helping to define an industry-standard approach that benefits the entire filmmaking ecosystem. Filmmakers will be able to adopt digital cinema cameras with confidence, and camera manufacturers will be able to provide specialized functionality while ensuring instant file format compatibility with existing workflows."

Many filmmakers are foregoing film in favor of digital cinema cameras and workflows that offer improved creative flexibility, lower costs, and significantly faster turnaround times. However, new workflows involve complex hardware and software, with projects passing through multiple vendors along the production pipeline. The proliferation of disparate, vendor-specific raw file formats has the potential to erode some of the advantages of digital cinema. By developing an open, public, and enduring standard that can be adopted throughout the production pipeline, Adobe and other companies through the CinemaDNG initiative are helping to solve an important, emerging workflow issue.

As an open file format, CinemaDNG could help filmmakers avoid roadblocks caused by incompatibilities in workflows that involve multiple devices, vendors, and file formats. Filmmakers could adopt digital cinema cameras while minimizing the risk that proprietary or camera-specific file formats would be unsupported in the future, because CinemaDNG would provide an open, durable, standard format that would be available for many years to come. Filmmakers could also rest assured that they have access to a robust archival standard for the new generation of raw-capable digital cinema cameras. CinemaDNG would also provide the foundation for an editing workflow that would allow filmmakers to use the highest quality source material.

For camera manufacturers and software developers, CinemaDNG is intended to help remove a key obstacle to the adoption of new products by providing reliable and instant compatibility with existing workflows. Manufacturers may be able to reduce development costs by eliminating the necessity to develop proprietary formats and conversion utilities. CinemaDNG is also planning to deliver support for proprietary metadata, helping manufacturers to differentiate their product offerings from competitors.

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