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Wrapping Up HPA’s 2018

By Seth Hallen

As we enter 2019, it’s time to take stock of HPA’s accomplishments over the last year and look forward to kicking off another great year with the 2019 Tech Retreat, one of the organization’s tentpole events. All in all, 2018 was a gratifying year, as HPA has continued to push forward its current initiatives: the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP), Leon Silverman Mentorship, Networking, Education and Technology (NET) and Women in Post (WIP) programs.

At the SMPTE Annual Technical Conference in October, we inaugurated the third YEP class, which is composed of another extremely talented, gifted group of young professionals. YEP participants were able to attend SMPTE for a full day, where they engaged with mentors, heard more information about SMPTE and HPA and were able to walk the exhibit floor. We also invited them to the HPA Awards, and during the 2019 HPA Tech Retreat they’ll be able to attend the Monday TR-X session and the Tuesday Supersession. We’re in the process of pairing them with mentors from the Leon Silverman Mentorship Program – and we’re always looking for more mentors. I can’t overstate how enthused we are about YEP. It’s a valuable program for these young professionals and we’re excited about the new class.

In 2018, we had three very successful NET events. Two of them were collaborative, round-table events and we had a moderator-led panel on blockchain that was so successful that we’ve had many requests for a Part 2. We like to look at current and forward-leaning topics at NET, and we’ve already addressed artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality and remote cloud collaboration. The NET committee has been co-chaired by Thinklogical Western Director of Sales Belinda Merritt and Microsoft account executive Eliott Sakhartov; Belinda is stepping down (thanks Belinda for all of the passion and dedication you brought to NET this past year!) and Netflix title project manager James Blevins will take her place. You can expect three more unique, stimulating events in 2019.

The HPA Awards Gala on November 15 was arguably one of the most successful – if not the most successful – of the 13 annual awards shows we’ve held. Attendance was robust and the show was really well received by HPA members and guests. Over the years, we continually see that the artists truly appreciate the honors. We launched the awards out of our passion to recognize the artists in our field who often don’t get recognized enough in our industry. We are so happy that the awards hit the mark once again. Marvel Studios producer and Executive Vice President of Production Victoria Alonso was the recipient of one of our highest honors, the Charles S. Swartz Award. She made a spectacular acceptance speech that highlighted her uniquely powerful vision and the charisma and energy she puts into her work. By definition, the Charles S. Schwartz award acknowledges people or technologies that create an indelible impact on our industry, and she has certainly done that. I can’t think of a better recipient.

Another highlight of the HPA Awards Gala was the Creativity and Innovation award, which acknowledged the #MeToo movement, and was presented by Universal Pictures Vice President of Creative Technologies Annie Chang. I’m proud that HPA did this. When I heard that the jury had decided upon this, it was one of those moments that reminded me why this organization never ceases to amaze me and how lucky I am to be a part of it.

Mark your calendars now if you are attending the Tech Retreat to register for the WIP luncheon. This lunch always sells out, and you don’t want to miss it. WIP had a great 2018 – its summer lunch series, supervising the YEP applications, co presenting the Women in Technology Lunch at SMPTE, and guiding HPA toward the most important topics in supporting our entire community.

The 2018 HPA Tech Retreat was one of the biggest we’ve held and the content was engaging as always. As planning for 2019 is fully in swing, I am confident that this year will be another fantastic experience.  As many past attendees know, the Tech Retreat is special – personal and intellectual camaraderie, exploration of processes, products and ideas and friendly debates – it’s a thoroughly unique experience.  And, there will be a lot to look forward to this year as always:  TR-X, the SuperSession, the Main Program and all of the associated events of the HPA Tech Retreat.  Based on the the way this year’s program is shaping up, it has the makings of another incredible event.  Registration is open, and you can see the entire program here. Last year, HPA Tech Retreat was at a new venue, the JW Marriott, and we will return there again this year.

Please note that in addition to our shiny new website, we have gotten very social. There is a lot more going on there than in the past few years, so we hope you will jump in! All of us hope to continue to grow our community and influence in these important times. Follow us, retweet, repost, and comment in our social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

I sincerely appreciate the dedication and passion of the board of directors and, of course, the volunteer committee leaders and members. I also want to express profound appreciation for HPA’s hardworking, dedicated staff. I can’t say it enough, the amount of time these already very busy people spend helping bring more value and richer participation in their industry is just outstanding and never ceases to impress me and make me feel so proud to be a part of this organization.

Holiday greetings to all, and best wishes for a happy new year!

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