Heading into 2022 with optimism and focus
By Seth Hallen, president of HPA
We’ve just finished 2021, a difficult and frequently bizarre year for everyone, which followed the now infamous 2020 when the pandemic descended upon us. As with almost every company on the planet, HPA had to pivot throughout all of this, and find a way to operate and continue to deliver value to our industry and community in a new normal.
HPA pivoted, with planning and focus, and kept serving our community through this incredibly challenging time. Much of our regular program of activities, including the Tech Retreat last March, became virtual. We were flexible and completely dedicated. Through it all, the HPA board and our committees continued to meet online every single week.
In November of 2021, we held our first in-person event since the pandemic. The HPA Awards gala hosted 400 people at the Hollywood Legion Theatre, and we did it in a COVID-safe way that I think gives us tremendous hope for the year ahead.
With the same rigor and commitment to success that our board and committees place on all of its programming and initiatives, a great deal of thought and planning went into how we could safely bring people together again to meet colleagues and friends to educate, network and celebrate; the very essence of what the HPA is all about. Vaccinations were required, masks were mandated, and the venue’s ventilation system circulated fresh air. In effect we created a bubble to optimize health and safety.
The HPA Awards were a tremendous success and a blueprint for convening in our new normal. Even more encouraging was the enthusiasm of the HPA community. The number of Awards entries was the most we’ve had for a live in-person event since 2016, and, as always, we sold out before the event. The Awards experience demonstrates to me not only the unstoppable drive to innovate but the desire to connect and talk about developments in personal contact with each other again.
Which brings us to the 2022 HPA Tech Retreat, our next in-person event, for which we will be returning to Palm Springs in February. We are truly excited for this because we go into it confident that we can make the event as safe as possible with the help of our Corporate Wellness experts who we have partnered with to manage our comprehensive health and safety protocols that we have put in place for the event.
Our guiding principle is to ensure our attendees not only are safe, but also feel safe.
It is apparent our members are as hungry to gather and share as they always have been. The Tech Retreat has consistently attracted significant interest from the industry but for the 2022 edition we have received more submissions for presentations and participation than we’ve had in over five years.
That tells me something I always suspected – that we all want to get back in the room and operate as normally as possible. Our program is locked and we’re so excited for the Supersession centerpiece of the Tech Retreat focused on Virtual Production.
VP has been a growing segment of our industry for the last several years, but the desire to restrict travel on location during the pandemic has only accelerated demand. The full day of Supersession sessions, produced and chaired by HPA board member and post executive Kari Grubin and ETC’s Erik Weaver, will cover VP from every angle. The line-up is impressive and will be, I’m sure, highly engaging.
We will immerse you in the use of multiple LED walls, cameras, and game engines, and show how these elements interact – not just on set, but across workflows from ideation to post. This program, conceived with great creativity and insight by Kari and Erik, will serve as a launching pad for those of us just getting our feet wet in Virtual Production.
Chaired by HPA board members Mark Chiolis (Mobile TV Group) and Craig German (Amazon Studios), the Tech Retreat will begin on Monday, February 21 with TR-X, a deep dive into the increasing use of cine cameras in sports and other live productions. Recent coverage of major league sports including Super Bowl and MLB’s Field of Dreams have been augmented with large sensor cameras and a greater depth of field more commonly associated with drama, to bring the action closer to audiences at home. TR-X will put these cross-industry techniques and challenges under the microscope with some of the key players in the field.
Led by our newest HPA board member James Blevins, I’m delighted to say that this year’s Innovation Zone, our showcase of bleeding edge technologies, is nearly sold out. It’s a vibrant gathering of the latest technologies and puts experts at easy access to attendees.
The Tech Retreat Roundtables are another way for attendees to spend time with thought leaders, and challenge and learn. Once again, Mark Schubin has put an incredible line-up of tables together for a morning kick-off that’s engaging and challenging. Mark, has, of course lined up a compelling main conference program with new ideas and expected experts on hand.
We will be delighted to welcome our new cohort of Young Entertainment Professionals to the Tech Retreat. I’m always impressed by the caliber of emerging talent accepted into our YEP program and in this, our sixth year, we have a particularly outstanding group who will participate in many events throughout the year. We look forward to helping them establish and grow their careers.
Away from Tech Retreat, the HPA is busy programming the second year of HPA ALL which strengthens the media & entertainment community by supporting and highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion. The HPA ALL League Honors are a key element of this, recognizing diverse members of our community who shine as examples of accomplishment, innovation, and leadership. News about HPA ALL programming and HPA ALL League Honors is coming soon.
I don’t think it’s too soon to look even further ahead with optimism and a greater degree of certainty to the HPA Awards 2022. It is clear people want to continue to celebrate the talent and brilliance of our industry in person and we want to provide that environment without compromising on health and safety.
I want to take a moment to reaffirm my personal pride in the HPA Board. They are the most talented, passionate and earnest group of executives I could ever imagine working with. This is a uniquely dedicated team, truly focused on the best for our community and industry.
The HPA engine runs on the time, effort and inspiration of volunteers and they deserve a special shout out. We should all be proud of our volunteer leaders and community members who bring so much value to the table and of our small, but mighty HPA staff who keep the wheels turning in the background.
This family is the nucleus of what makes the HPA great and I’m looking forward to working together with you again.
Sending my best wishes for your year ahead and you know what? We’ll see you soon!