MXF files were designed to streamline workflows between different platforms, such as cameras, digital editing equipment, and servers. Its contents may be a complete programme as well as complete packages or sequences. There are basic facilities available for cuts between sequences and audio crossfades. This way the sequences can be assembled into programmes. MXF is self-contained, holding complete content without need of external material.
MXF bundles together video, audio, and programme data, such as text - together termed essence - along with metadata and places them into a wrapper. Its body is stream based and carries the essence and some of the metadata. It holds a sequence of video frames, each complete with associated audio, and data essence, plus frame-based metadata. The latter typically comprises timecode and file format information for each of the video frames. This arrangement is also known as an interleaved media file.
The body can be based on several different types of material (essence) including MPEG, DV and uncompressed video and audio, it also uses the SMPTE KLV data coding system, which has the advantage of being a recognized standard.
MXF is driven by user needs and so has a strong commercial base. Even normally competitive manufacturers are working together at high speed to provide an open industry solution to file interchange. Working together, targets have been met; MXF is now submitted to SMPTE and is well on its way to helping media flow in the television/IT convergent world. End users will be able to better manage their media and to concentrate on their prime tasks of productivity and creativity.