SMIL 3.0 Advances Standard for Synchronized Multimedia

W3C Integrates Industry and User Experience into Feature Set

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http://www.w3.org/ -- 1 December 2008 -- Today W3C announced a new standard to make it easier to author interactive multimedia presentations. Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) 3.0 allows video, audio, images, text, and hypertext links to be combined into interactive presentations, with fine-grain control of layout and timing.

"The importance of SMIL 3.0 is that it contains a set of user-requested features that provide exciting new functionality, while retaining all the advantages of a declarative (that is, without scripting) approach to building a multimedia presentation," said Dick Bulterman, chair of the Synchronized Multimedia Working Group, which published the specification.

The new features in SMIL (pronounced, "smile") are a direct response to user and industry demand. For instance, the standard allows full-motion, timed captions and labels to be directly inserted in the presentation (called smilText). And SMIL's media pan-zoom control allows people to create "Ken Burns"-style animations easily for photos and visual content. SMIL 3.0 also allows authors to embed timed metadata in presentations, making SMIL a useful descriptive language for the development of Semantic Web resources that evolve over time.

These new features enable end-users to enhance video and image sites with captions, subtitles and other annotations, even if the video or images were created by somebody else. SMIL provides a standard and flexible way to accompany media with links, captions, metadata, and other information that requires timing coordination.

SMIL 3.0 also integrates a number of industry extensions to previous versions of the standard. "By integrating extensions such as those developed at RealNetworks," said Eric Hyche, Principal Engineer at RealNetworks, "SMIL 3.0 will boost wider acceptance and interoperability of multimedia on the Web."

Developers and users alike are invited to consult the collection of tools, demonstrators, and book that accompany the SMIL 3.0 release.

SMIL 3.0 Primed for XML Applications, Mobile Web

SMIL 3.0 is designed so that people may build multimedia applications for an increasing number of platforms that support Web standards. For instance, people can now safely add multimedia presentations to other XML applications, including HTML and SVG. SMIL 3.0 also makes it easier to develop multimedia applications on mobile platforms. "SMIL Tiny" is a minimal profile of SMIL 3.0 perfect for embedded systems and light-weight applications such as media playlists.

According to Luiz Fernando Gomes Soares, who coordinates the development of the Ginga/NCL reference implementation for the Brazilian DTV standard, "The simple declarative structure of SMIL Tiny makes it an interesting candidate for augmenting interaction in future set-top boxes. This could stimulate new forms of end-user interaction with content in a safe and localized manner."

SMIL 3.0 Integrates Features for Accessibility

SMIL 3.0 benefits users with disabilities through integration of features requested by the DAISY Consortium. The Daisy Consortium uses SMIL for its Talking Books, an open format designed to meet the needs of blind and visually challenged Web users.

"SMIL 3.0 includes several new accessibility features and, for the first time, a fully-conforming language profile has been defined for DAISY books," said Dr. George Kerscher, Secretary-General of the Daisy Consortium. "As the Consortium moves forward with revisions to the DAISY Standard, we will build on SMIL 3.0 and extend the functionality in the DAISY Standard to support the production and consumption of rich media publications that are accessible to all."

The participants in the Synchronized Multimedia Working Group involved in the publication were: Access Technologies (worldwide), CWI - Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (Netherlands), the Daisy Consortium (Worldwide), the Helsinki University of Technology (Finland), the International Webmasters Association/HTML Writers Guild (Italy), Loria/INRIA Lorraine (France), the National Center for Research on Disabilities (Japan), Nokia (worldwide), the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), RealNetworks (USA) and La Universidad de Oviedo (Spain).

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international consortium where Member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. W3C primarily pursues its mission through the creation of Web standards and guidelines designed to ensure long-term growth for the Web. Over 440 organizations are Members of the Consortium. W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the USA, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France and Keio University in Japan, and has additional Offices worldwide. For more information see http://www.w3.org/