Advanced Authoring Format

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The Advanced Authoring Format ( AAF ) is a file format for storing multimedia data. A complete project (“composition”) is stored in an AAF file, both the media content and metadata .

AAF is not an official standard. However, it is supported by: Avid, BBC, CNN, Discreet, Ascent Media, Matrox, Microsoft, Apple, Philips, Pinnacle, Quantel, Sony, Fairlight, Turner Entertainment Networks, and the US National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The data structure of the MXF media exchange format standardized by the SMPTE is a subgroup of the AAF.


AAF is intended to facilitate the exchange of multimedia projects within a production process. The media data (e.g. video or audio data) remain unchanged due to the editing by various specialized programs (e.g. non-linear video editing , animation programs , sound editing, authoring , etc.), while editing is done solely by changing the Metadata (e.g. position of cuts or audio fades).

This ensures that different applications can access the file, but that the file can still be read by other applications despite changes. The programs can only read or change the metadata that the program is intended to process. A pure 3D application can add new video data to the file, but it has no access to the editing sequence that is edited by an editing program.

The specific implementation of the modifications that a program can make to an AAF file is left to the manufacturers of the programs. The AAF SDK is freely available.

The advantage of this method is that the files do not have to be laboriously converted into a specific format before data can be exchanged between different processing programs and the metadata is not lost.

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