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Is IMF (Interoperable Master Format) worth it? Figures prove it: typically 26% cost-savings over 4 years for a 1-hour program. In this article, we go through the IMF mastering use case. For each stage of the workflow, we compare a typical process with or without IMF.
In practice, when a program is made, multiple versions are produced. Once the Original Version (OV) and International Version (IV) are ready come other languages. Programs are traditionally stored complete, as plain tape or film replacement. IMF offers an alternative: one package stores each element (audio, video, subtitles) with minimum overhead. Where each version usually requires a big chunk of storage (60GB per version), IMF makes it economical (100GB overall).
The IMF approach implies archiving many versions at minimum cost: a new Composition PlayList (CPL) and the extra content are only needed. Using our example, 5 masters produced then stored for 4 years cost $22k with IMF against $30k without. The paper details how a 26% cost-reduction is achieved in practice.