A generation ago, the director of Home Alone made another kids movie from a book about an orphan boy plucked out of his dreary ordinary life and suddenly immersed in a world of Magic, where -among other things- magical photographs weren’t just still images but they MOVED.
Back then, this was magical, but for a good number of today’s generation of kids, however, moving pictures captured from Mommy’s or Daddy’s pocket phone is their lived reality rather than a fantastical detail in a book.
Today, many of us have fantastical public diaries courtesy of social media, where we feed the details of our lives including text, images, animated images, and video clips. We also keep up with what’s going on in the world through 21st century versions of magazines and newspapers that assemble and combine text, images, and video clips for ephemeral consumption. You would think there would be some demand for a way to take the same sort of content and material, but preserve it for the long-term.
And you might also think that PDF is the right format for such applications.
You wouldn’t be wrong exactly, because PDF as a format has supported embedded Audio and Video since fairly early on. However, that support has gone through a number of evolutionary generations, none of which have really caught on. So there is room for improvement.
In my presentation at PDF Days Europe earlier this month, I spoke about how we got to this point, and how we might be able to re-engage from our current stall by tweaking the RichMedia Annotation specification with a small number of ideas plucked from other parts of the PDF specification.
These small tweaks may well require rethinking how we implement modern support for embedded Video and Audio in PDF applications. Which would not be a bad thing, in my opinion, but it does need to be a community effort.
The key takeaways from my presentation include:
- The case for supporting video in PDFs is: Context, archival, and unlocking non-destructive edits to videos.
- For archival support, you need to support at least 1 standardized format fully. Configurable without scripting.
- You can capture/enable a lot of non-destructive A/V editing with a fairly minimal set of time-based stitching and interpolating functions, combined with a slightly richer set of rendition operations.
- PDF 2.0 RichMedia can be extended to make this happen.
I’d like to thank those who attended my session. The full slides from the presentation will be made available by the PDF Association in the coming weeks, so please check back here soon to access them.