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Protocols, Standards Drive Development

When it comes to newsroom automation, acronyms MOS, MXF and AAF are basic vocabulary. For most manufacturers (and broadcasters), they are the standards and protocols that enable newsroom automation to go from concept to reality.

"Automation protocols such as MOS and file formats such as MXF offer a lowest common denominator for newsroom workflow integration," says Michael Koetter, vice president of technology, North American Operations, BBC Technology.

The MOS, or Media Object Server, protocol governs control between the newsroom and ancillary devices while the Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) and Media Exchange Format (MXF) help with the interchange of data between video, audio and effects-related systems. An AAF file contains data related to the video, audio and effects while the MXF file contains the actual video and audio media. Used together, they remove many of the headaches associated with moving content from one device to another.

"MOS starts with placeholders for the daily events in the rundown and flows through the process from ingest to edit to playout, providing the fastest turnaround time available," says Eddy Jenkins, Leitch director of product marketing, video servers. "Control is placed where required, with a journalist, editor or news director."

MXF, on the other hand, provides a way to describe the content so that the journalist doesn't have to worry about format type, according to Dave Polyard, Omnibus vice president, sales and marketing, North America.

The AAF standard, he adds, "provides a 'container' to carry the increasing load of metadata and other information."

MOS was born out of a 1998 meeting at AP's ENPS newsroom systems developer conference. Five years later, it continues to evolve. The latest version, version 2.8, is designed to improve the speed and performance of a digital newsroom.

It includes detailed descriptions of how to apply the MOS protocol to several areas of workflow, called "profiles," according to Ian Bowker, Thomson Broadcast & Multimedia director, program management for news solutions. The profiles permit more-seamless integration because application of the protocol is no longer subject to interpretation because vendors must support at least two of the profiles.

The new version makes selection and integration of equipment much easier for customers, says Mike Palmer, AP director of broadcast digital distribution systems.

Along with MOS acceptance is the growing reliance on MXF and AAF. For many broadcasters and vendors, the sooner they become familiar with one or all of these acronyms, the better.