Let’s take an example. We mentioned previously that MXF, the Material eXchange Format, has become the dominant file format for “professional” media. However, that is not to say that any “MXF” file can be read by any software or system that claims to have MXF support. In fact, it is misleading to refer to MXF as “a standard”, as there are actually more than 25 “standards” documents that describe MXF. Of these, seven cover the overall concepts, definitions, and data structures; approximately 10 talk about different file format/structure, and more than 12 discuss how to store different media essence types within MXF. Each of these individual published standards include a huge number of variables and, as a result, dozens of RDDs (Registered Disclosure Documents), Application Specifications and other documents exist, which describe how MXF has been implemented by various vendors, organizations, groups, and cooperatives.
The simple reason for this large number of variations is that there were, or are, so many stakeholders in the format – all wanting to have a common means to exchange media, but with differing priorities, yet none has a particular position of dominance. As such, the number of varieties is likely to continue to grow.