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HPA Tech Retreat Returns In Person

By Debra Kaufman

On February 21, the HPA Tech Retreat will return to an in-person event with compelling sessions on artificial intelligence/machine learning, cloud, HDR and, says organizer Mark Schubin, “all the other buzz words” covered in past Tech Retreats. But there’s one major difference. “There’s usually two points of view on these topics,” he says. “Either it’s a completely rosy picture, usually portrayed by manufacturers, or a totally negative one, often portrayed by people who haven’t yet significantly dealt with the technology.”

At this HPA Tech Retreat, says Schubin, the focus will be on the middle view. As an example, he points to a session on “Media in the Cloud: A Reality Check,” with Ross Video’s Chris Lennon, Warner Media’s Renard Jenkins, Accion Labs’ Sujay Kumar and Sinclair Broadcasting’s Shawn Maynard. Another panel, moderated by Jenkins, will address “ML/AI: Pitfalls, Progress & Opportunities,” and still another AI-focused panel, led by Deluxe’s Richard Welch, will ask whether it is “a winning bet or an existential threat.”

As always, the Tech Retreat will open with the HPA TR-X session, this one on cine cameras in live multi-camera production environments. It examines how this paradigm has replaced the single sensor cameras of the past, which could be an expensive, multi day event. Today’s live production environments include the Super Bowl, concerts, award shows and Fortune 500 corporate projects.

Schubin enumerates some of the other Tech Retreat highlights. “Now that we’re in the cloud, the theory is you no longer need a systems integrator,” he says. On Thursday Advanced Systems Group’s Dave Van Hoy challenges that perception in a session on “What Does Systems Integration Look Like in the Cloud.”

Another topic of great general interest is industry standards. “Typically, SMPTE has made all the standards,” he says. “But we are finding that other groups are contributing significantly, and we’ll have them at the event.” That includes the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) which will present its new Standard Evaluation Material II: The Mission. Wendy Aylsworth will moderate a discussion on The Mission with ASC associate members Jay Holben and Joachim Zell as well as Christopher Probst, ASC; David Stump, ASC; and Steve Shaw, ASC. Jesse Korosi, ASC, chair of the ASC’s ADM committee, will also lead a Thursday breakfast roundtable on “ASC auto framing translation and new file verification.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will be represented at the HPA Tech Retreat with a session, led by Paramount Pictures senior vice president of assets Andrea Kalas, on the Academy Digital Presentation Forum (ADPF) and another one on “Color Processing with OpenColorIO v. 2 and the Academy/ASC Common LUT Format,” led by Autodesk’s Doug Walker. There will also be an update on the Academy’s color encoding system (ACES). On Wednesday, the International Cinematographers Guild’s Michael Chambliss will moderate a panel on “The Creative Impact of AI-Assisted Color Pipelines,” with Color Intelligence colorist Dado Valentic, director of photography Michael Gioulakis, DIT Von Thomas and Picture Shop colorist Maxine Gervias.

The HPA Tech Retreat will also present familiar faces delivering presentations on annual themes, including Schubin’s Technology Year in Review (and quizzes throughout the event). HPA Tech Retreat veteran Peter Putman will come out of retirement to give his Consumer Electronics Show (CES) review, followed by Mark Harrison who will present his findings on “Decoding CES 2022: the Consumer Trends that Will Impact the Media and Entertainment Industry.” Mobile TV Group’s Mark Chiolis will update attendees on remote, mobile and live workflow innovations, including panelists from NEP Group (Scott Rothenberg), Mobile TV Group (Phil Garvin) and, for the first time, NFL Media (Tony Cole). Matthew Goldman, now at the Sinclair Broadcast Group, will discuss broadcast HDR; Workflowers founder Cedric LeJeune will talk about the carbon impact of production and more sustainable ways of delivering streams to home TV. Blackmagic Design business development manager (Americas) Dave Hoffman will describe a “special cloud collaboration project,” and a large team will provide an update on MovieLabs 2030 Vision. Other sessions include ARRI image science engineer Harald Brendel describing a new color space for encoding high-dynamic range camera data, and Eluvio founder/chief executive Michelle Munson giving a tutorial on the technological foundations of NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

There will be more: NextGen TV broadcasting, low-earth-orbit satellites, multi/hybrid clouds, a complete camera (including optical system) the size of a grain of salt, a lickable (and tasteable) TV set, even a media-equipped refrigerator — from 1956! There’s something for everyone.

Finally, the breakfast roundtables are a great way to start the day, with a rich variety of topics including a look at Samsung’s new Quantum Dot OLED display, MovieLabs on cloud readiness, Avid’s discussion of using AI/ML for media production, and Telos’ audio and live remote production in the cloud. Baylor University’s new six-primary color system will be discussed each day.

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