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Record Numbers Attend SMPTE 2015

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The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) have enjoyed a record number of attendees to the SMPTE 2015 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2015).

More than 75 expert presentations, nearly 100 exhibitors, and 2,328 registered attendees from more than 35 countries attended the event – its highest in over a decade.

Co-chaired by SMPTE Fellows Paul Chapman and Jim DeFilippis, SMPTE 2015 and related events were held 26 – 29 October in Hollywood, California. Aaron Thibault of Gearbox Software served as program chair for the conference-opening SMPTE 2015 Symposium on augmented and virtual reality held on Oct. 26.

"In so many ways, this was a banner year for the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition. For starters, so many high-quality papers were submitted that we literally had to make room for presentations," Chapman said. "We also had to add space to accommodate more than 90 exhibitors. That, coupled with the record number of attendees, indicates that the industry is on a real upswing."

Patrick Griffis, SMPTE education vice president, added: "The SMPTE conference is truly unique. There really is no other venue in the world in which motion-imaging professionals can gather and share in discussions with top industry experts and thought leaders in the field. It's the one place where attendees can learn about practical implementations of media technologies that, a short time ago, were just speculative topics. And SMPTE 2015 presenters really outdid themselves, addressing technologies ranging from virtual and augmented reality to UHD/HDR/HFR to IP infrastructure and more."

Chaired by Thibault, the day-long SMPTE Symposium kicked off SMPTE 2015 with the theme, 'Blending Augmented, Virtual and Physical Worlds for the Ultimate Cinematic Experience: Making It Real'. The symposium's roster of speakers explored how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are disrupting the media and entertainment industry. Layla Mah of Advanced Micro Devices delivered the keynote address, examining the current landscape and highlighting milestones suggesting that VR/AR technology has arrived. Furthering the discussion of how this technology is affecting the traditional broadcast, cinema, and the VR/AR space, the sessions involved content creators and technology leaders describing how the new age of content consumption is driving innovative thinking and storytelling. A highlight of the symposium was the VR/AR demo room, which offered attendees an opportunity to experience the technology for themselves, including demonstrations of projects by several SMPTE Student Chapters. In another demo, FOX showcased a VR production involving the team and talent from the feature movie 'Wild'.

The Women in Technology Luncheon on 26 October by the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA) Women in Post and SMPTE, included the discussion of women's experience in a largely male-dominated industry and of efforts to increase diversity within the industry. The luncheon this year featured a conversation with Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who is in her third term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

The SMPTE 2015 technical conference opened on 27 October, with the publication of the SMPTE study group report on the high-dynamic-range (HDR) imaging ecosystem. This set the stage for a number of presentations on image quality as well as topics ranging from Internet Protocol (IP) to audio, workflows, cloud, compression, and workplace diversity. A subsequent session featuring presentations by DeFilippis, Klaus Weber of Grass Valley, and Hiroaki Iwasaki of Panasonic provided practical insights on how to take advantage of higher frame rates (HFR) and HDR capture.

In addition, a session titled, 'Thought-Provoking Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Motion Picture and Television Engineering' examined how broader outreach – more inclusive of women, minorities, and younger industry members – will better enable the industry to attract top engineers. The session was chaired by Kellie McKeown, a software-engineering turnaround consultant for projects and organisations, and featured SMPTE Past President Wendy Aylsworth, Andrea Berry of FOX Networks, Marilyn Pierce of FOX News Channel, Renu Thomas of Disney ABC Television Group, and Jennifer Zeidan of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).

The subsequent SMPTE Industry Luncheon featured a premiere of the newly recut trailer for 'Moving Images', a SMPTE film project aimed at documenting the history of motion-imaging technology. Ted Middleton, chief product officer at Verizon Digital Media Services, then presented 'The TV Everywhere Frontier – Where Broadcasting Meets the Internet'. He suggested that because the viewing experience remains static, reports of traditional broadcasting's demise are premature, though he expects that in the next 10 years many people won't be paying for TV. He also described Verizon's digital-delivery platform and its unified workflow for video on demand (VOD).

Following the Opening Night Reception in the exhibit hall, the SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival showcased submissions demonstrating creative uses of technology in storytelling. SMPTE received submissions from all over the world, with the 12 official selections representing Canada, Hong Kong, U.K., U.A.E., Australia, and the U.S. Film Director and SMPTE Standards Director, Howard Lukk, hosted the event, where the Official Selections were screened in SMPTE-DCP format courtesy of Sundog Media Toolkit.

At the annual Fellows Luncheon, the Society conferred SMPTE Fellow status on 15 industry leaders. They are Annie Chang, Paul R. Chapman, Peter Fasciano, Simon Fell, William T. Hayes, Larry J. Hornbeck, Jim Houston, Toshiaki Kojima, Sara J. Kudrle, Karl Joseph Kuhn, Kenneth Michel, Delbert R. Parks, III, Michael Strein, Giles Wilson, and Peter A. Wilson.

The SMPTE Honors & Awards Ceremony and Dinner on 29 October was hosted by Sally-Ann D'Amato, SMPTE director of operations and professional vocalist. The event recognised 29 award winners, with Laurence Thorpe and Irwin W. Young receiving the Society's highest award, Honorary Membership, and Oscar Byram (O.B.) Hanson (1894-1961) being named to the SMPTE Honor Roll. SMPTE 2015 concluded with the annual Honors & Awards After-Party, which included the fourth annual SMPTE Jam session.

Plans are already underway for the SMPTE 2016 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2016), scheduled for 24 – 28 October.

Image: Larry Thorpe receives Honorary Membership from SMPTE President, Robert Seidel and SMPTE Past President Wendy Aylsworth.


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