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An Update from HPA President Seth Hallen

Seth HallenBy Debra Kaufman

It’s time for another update from the HPA Board, and Newsline had an opportunity to speak to HPA President Seth Hallen about the many activities the organization has been up to in 2018.

The organization is readying for HPA Creative Tech U.K. in London on June 27. This year, says Hallen, the event is taking place at the Ham Yard Hotel in the heart of Soho. The event has also streamlined its focus from two to one day, with a variety of top tier speakers diving into important topics and sessions.

Paul Machliss, ACE, who most recently edited the award-winning Baby Driver, will present the keynote. Machliss will describe his creative approach and talk about the previsualization tools he used.

Cybersecurity is top of everyone’s mind, and renowned ethical hacker FC will be hacking live from an undisclosed location to the Ham Yard audience. Working with his partner, socio-technical expert Dr. Jessica Barker, the two will “demystify cyber insecurity while discussing and demonstrating the who, how and why of hacking.” DPP’s Mark Harrison, will present a view of the latest industry developments through the lens of CES 2018. “He has an interesting view of the industry and has done a remarkable job predicting trends,” says Hallen, who invited Harrison to present at the HPA Tech Retreat after hearing him speak at the U.K. event.

Another presentation will focus on the role that artificial intelligence is playing in driving storytelling, featuring Arvato Systems’ Yvonne Thomas, FeedForward AI’s Lydia Gregory, Sundog Media Toolkit’s Dr. Joanne Kitson, and Elucidata’s Laura Domicevica. “I’m really looking forward to this one,” says Hallen. “For many people, this may be the first time they’ll have been able to take a deep dive into AI’s growing impact on the industry.” There are a few spots still available for the HPA Creative Tech U.K., adds Hallen, who encourages those interested to join the event, walk-ins are welcome.

Preparations for the annual HPA Awards –  November 15 at the Skirball Cultural Center, LA – are in full swing. “Entries for the Creative categories will be accepted until July 13.” says Hallen. “We had over 450 submissions in the Creative category last year, which was a record – and we might have another record this year.”  He notes that the Engineering Excellence Awards judging presentations were held recently, hosted at IMAX. Winners will be announced imminently.

The fifth annual Women in Posts summer series of lunches and meetings has already begun.  The group continues to grow, reports Hallen, and its events sell out quickly.

The latest NET (Networking, Education, Technology) event took place on June 7, hosted by Microsoft in Playa Vista. “This NET was organized like the HPA Tech Retreat’s breakfast roundtables,” says Hallen, who noted that 100 attendees could move to three different tables during the lunch. Table topics included several devoted to AR/VR, standards, metadata, and the cloud.  The next NET event is scheduled for October 4.

The HPA’s premiere event of the year is the HPA Tech Retreat.  This year, the Tech Retreat moved to a new venue, the JW Marriott in Palm Desert. The Monday TR-X event, a Tech Retreat eXtra event organized by Mark Chiolis and Craig German, covered machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the Tech Retreat itself featured organizer Mark Schubin’s well-curated program. Hallen points out that this Retreat’s Friday program was particularly stellar, including a panel on “Virtual Cinematography and Storytelling Images” featuring Unity Technologies head of cinematics Adam Myhill along with DigitalFilm Tree’s Rami Katrib and EFILM’s Joachim “JZ” Zell.  “Adam showed how the game engine Unity applies to real-time production and rendering of CG filmmaking,” says Hallen. “JZ acted as director, directing a scene that they played out immediately in 4K – very impressive!” Hallen also points out that Mark Harrison predicted future trends, and other sessions focused on detection of modified video, immersion and singularity, and perceptual fatigue in film, broadcast and VR.  Hallen notes that news about the 2019 Tech Retreat will start to roll out this fall.  The 2019 Tech Retreat will return to the JW Marriot in Palm Desert.

Finally, Hallen is keen to draw attention to the strong focus HPA has on the next generation, especially with its Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) program and its HPA mentors. “Foremost on our agenda is our support of the next generation of professionals,” he says. “We put a lot of energy into building YEP, which has seen terrific growth and interest.” Young professionals who are accepted into the program get a wealth of benefits, including one free day at the Palm Springs HPA Tech Retreat and another at the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference, as well as a chance to attend the HPA Awards, and, of course, network and connect with HPA members. “We’ve had our first two YEP classes,” says Hallen. “And the third will be announced in the fall.  The idea now is to get the graduates of our first and second classes engaged as full-fledged members of the HPA community. Our great energy around the next generation initiatives will ensure HPA’s relevance and support a great future for our industry.”

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