Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

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Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers
Formation1916; 107 years ago (1916)

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) (/ˈsɪmpt/, rarely /ˈsʌmpt/), founded in 1916 as the Society of Motion Picture Engineers or SMPE,[1] is a global professional association of engineers, technologists, and executives working in the media and entertainment industry. As an internationally recognized standards organization, SMPTE has published more than 800 technical standards and related documents for broadcast, filmmaking, digital cinema, audio recording, information technology (IT), and medical imaging.

SMPTE also publishes the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, provides networking opportunities for its members, produces academic conferences and exhibitions, and performs other industry-related functions. SMPTE membership is open to any individual or organization with an interest in the subject matter. In the US, SMPTE is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization.


The Motion Picture and Television Engineers was founded in 1916 by Charles Francis Jenkins, who was the first president of the organization.[2]

Educational and professional development activities[edit]

SMPTE's educational and professional development activities include technical presentations at regular meetings of its local Sections, annual and biennial conferences in the US and Australia and the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal. The society sponsors many awards, the oldest of which are the SMPTE Progress Medal, the Samuel Warner Memorial Medal, and the David Sarnoff Medal.[3] SMPTE also has a number of Student Chapters and sponsors scholarships for college students in the motion imaging disciplines.


Recreation of the SMPTE RP-133 Medical Diagnostic Imaging Test Pattern

SMPTE standards documents are copyrighted and may be purchased from the SMPTE website, or other distributors of technical standards. Standards documents may be purchased by the general public. Significant standards promulgated by SMPTE include:

Film format[edit]

SMP(T)E'S first standard was to get everyone using 35-mm film width, four sprocket holes per frame, 1.37:1 picture ratio. Until then, there were competing film formats. With the standard, theaters could all run the same films.

Film frame rate[edit]

SMP(T)E's standard in 1927 was for speed at which sound film is shown, 24 frames per second.[4]

3D television[edit]

SMPTE's taskforce on "3D to the home" produced a report on the issues and challenges and suggested minimum standards for the 3D home master that would be distributed after post-production to the ingest points of distribution channels for 3D video content. A group within the standards committees has begun to work on the formal definition of the SMPTE 3D Home Master.[5][6][7]

Digital cinema[edit]

In 1999, SMPTE established the DC28 technology committee, for the foundations of Digital Cinema.[8]


SMPTE Fellows[9][edit]

Honors and awards program[edit]

The SMPTE presents awards to individuals for outstanding contributions in fields of the society.

Honorary membership and the honor roll[edit]

Recipients include:

Progress Medal[edit]

The Progress Medal, instituted in 1935, is SMPTE's oldest and most prestigious medal, and is awarded annually for contributions to engineering aspects of the film and/or television industries.[10]

Recipients include:

David Sarnoff Gold Medal[edit]

Eastman Kodak Gold Medal[edit]

The Eastman Kodak Gold Medal, instituted in 1967, recognizes outstanding contributions which lead to new or unique educational programs utilizing motion pictures, television, high-speed and instrumentation photography or other photography sciences. Recent recipients are

  • Andrew Laszlo (2006)
  • James MacKay (2005)
  • Dr. Roderick T. Ryan (2004)
  • George Spiro Dibie (2003)
  • Jean-Pierre Beauviala (2002)

Related organizations[edit]

Related organizations include

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The name was changed from Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) to Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) in 1950 to embrace the emerging television industry.
  2. ^ Graham, Gerald G. (1989). "3". Canadian film technology, 1896-1986. University of Delaware Press. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-87413-347-5.
  3. ^ "Honoring the Contributions of Leaders – Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers".
  4. ^ TWiT Netcast Network (March 30, 2017), How 24 FPS Became Standard, archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved March 31, 2017
  5. ^ Hollywood gears up 3D TV effort
  6. ^ "New SMPTE 3D Home Content Master Requirements Set Stage For New Market Growth". Archived from the original on May 2, 2009.
  7. ^ "Welcome to the SMPTE Store – Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers".
  8. ^ See Charles S. Swartz (editor). Understanding Digital Cinema. A Professional Handbook. Elsevier, 2005, p. 7.
  9. ^ Team, SMPTE Marketing. "SMPTE Fellows | Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  10. ^ "List of SMPTE Progress Medal winners". Retrieved November 27, 2020.
  11. ^ "SMPTE Progress Medal Historical List Recipients | Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers". Retrieved February 20, 2018.


  • Charles S. Swartz (editor). Understanding Digital Cinema. A Professional Handbook. Elsevier, 2005.