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24 2016 May

SIM Group Appoints New CEO, James Haggarty to Succeed Rob Sim, Founder

The SIM Group’s Board of Directors has appointed a new President and CEO, James (Jamie) Haggarty.  After successfully expanding and diversifying the company he founded 34-years ago, Rob Sim is moving into a new role as Vice Chairman.  The company has expanded rapidly over the past few years, encompassing a network of complementary brands that service the production and post production industries.  James will focus on enhancing the innovation and execution that SIM customers need while accelerating key growth strategies for the company.

“Jamie is an accomplished executive with leadership experience in technology, traditional media, digital media, sports and entertainment,” said Jeffrey Cairns, Chairman of the Board. “We are confident in Jamie’s abilities to lead this organization during this dynamic time for all parties in the creation and distribution of content.”

James most recently served as Managing Director at Gibraltar & Co, where he focused on mergers, acquisitions and business development of small and large companies.  Prior to that, he was CEO of SHOP.CA, an e-commerce and technology company.  James has spent most of his career in media, having held various positions in broadcasting, cable and telecommunications such as EVP Television Operations at Rogers Broadcasting, VP Financial Operations at Rogers Media and VP Corporate Development and VP Operations at CORUS Entertainment.  James played leadership roles in acquiring, launching and operating radio & TV stations, magazines and websites, in addition to innovative programs that attracted record-level audiences as well as acclaim from customers.

24 2016 May

VFX Producer Chad Hudson Joins FuseFX

Veteran Visual Effects Producer Chad Hudson has joined FuseFX.  He will be based at the company’s Los Angeles facility. Hudson’s  credits include The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Hudson becomes part of a diverse production team that is creating effects for Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and pilots for CBS and Amazon, as well as other upcoming television projects.

Hudson’s background includes visual effects roles with Lionsgate and Universal Pictures, where his credits included Jurassic Worldand The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1 & 2, and a previous 3-year stint at Rhythm & Hues. During that earlier tenure, he served as a VFX coordinator on the Academy Award-winning Life of Pi, Grown Ups 2 and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. He was a visual effects producer on the Game of Thrones episode The Dance of Dragons, which won a 2016 Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects.

23 2016 May

My Mentor Made Me Do It (and I am so grateful)

What drives someone in our industry to get out from behind their desk, workstation or the environment of their day-to-day job and engage in industry community or volunteer activities? In my case, it was a mentor. He pretty much ordered me to consider the world beyond my desk and my own company.

It was early in my career. I was trying to demonstrate to my company that I could work hard at my job at the same time the industry around and outside me was exploding with change. My mentor DEMANDED that I join SMPTE and become active on industry committees (he was THAT sort of guy).  At first, I resented the extra time. More than anything, I did not think that I had anything to offer.

The discussions seemed a bit outside of the areas in which I was working and frankly, sometimes they were beyond my understanding and depth. The people who were involved in these groups and meetings were people whose names I had heard. They were giants in the industry. They won awards and had made huge contributions.

In those early days, I mostly lurked. I went to meetings and events. I observed. I started hearing new terms and learning new things. But then, I started meeting new people. Some of them were those giants who were only too happy to share their knowledge with the new guy. And much to my surprise, I had knowledge to share too.

Little by little, I became a peer, colleague and in many cases, friends with some of the most influential names in our industry simply by showing up and engaging. And then I started raising my hand. It’s crazy how it easy it was to get involved. And it’s crazy how fantastic it was for me to work with others to help our industry – and I can’t deny it – help myself. But something that was equally true was my soon to be full blown “volunteeritis” absolutely helped my company as much as it did my career.

Getting on top of trends. Having access to the big brains and great people at events. Hanging out in a committee where the off–agenda discussion could spark a thought or conversation that could literally fuel amazing new ideas that can help your company and you in your own job, succeed. That was my experience. I can truly say that without my participation within industry groups, my career would have been very different. And I can say the same for my employer. They absolutely benefited from what I learned and helped accomplish through industry association.

We all tend to focus on what is right in front of us, working hard at our jobs and giving our all to our companies, projects or own endeavors. There is this thing called Work Life Balance that I truly believe is important to a healthy and happy life. But to me, my life and work would not have been in balance unless I added industry participation to my hard work and focus on my family.

In those early, defining years of my career, where it was becoming clear that I had a passion for this industry, stepping out from behind my desk and venturing into the community cemented an important status for me. I was becoming more confident in my role in my job and within the industry. I was becoming a “professional.”

Our Hollywood Professional Association, now fueled by that 100-year-old start-up, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, is poised to help today’s generation of professionals reach their potential. I am so interested in helping our new President, Seth Hallen succeed in his vision of “enrolling” our community in this important dialogue and to help those seeking their own professional path. It’s important to the organization, the industry and the individuals engaged in our business at every step of their careers.

Charles J. Lipow was the mentor who demanded I join the community. I cannot thank him enough. Hopefully you will have a mentor like Charles.  Maybe you will heed the wakeup call yourself – or perhaps my words can serve as the mentor that demands you widen your career journey. You will thank yourself. See you at an HPA event soon.

Just take the step.

PS: If you want to know more about my mentor Charles J Lipow, please read my remembrance of him in this month’s issue of the SMPTE journal or via this link on the HPA website.

Leon Silverman
Past President and Founder
Hollywood Professional Association

28 2016 Apr

HPA TECH RETREAT UK UNVEILS GAME OF THRONES EXCLUSIVE, ADDITIONAL SESSIONS AND EVENTS!

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The HPA Tech Retreat UK will take attendees on an exclusive behind the scenes look at  the making of the HBO production, “Game of Thrones.” The special session will examine the production and post of the smash hit series. An all-star panel will lift the lid on the epic series’ creative and technical work, investigating everything from on-set technology, visual effects (VFX) and sound, including an in-depth look at HBO’s groundbreaking use of Dolby ATMOS.

The HPA Tech Retreat SuperSession will be led by industry leaders at work in ultra-high-definition (UHD), high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and more, who will bring their studied perspectives to the topics that are of crucial impact to the industry. The SuperSession, which takes place on the first day of the two-day event, is an in-depth series of panels entitled “Ultra Everything and Emerging Media Technology”. “Ultra Everything” will explore what UHD and associated technological advances mean for content creators and the audience. The line-up will include major UK and US broadcasters focusing on how the increases in frame rates, colour, dynamic range and object-based audio are affecting content. This session will be a wide-ranging look at HDR, higher frame rates (HFR), wider colour gamut (WCG), 4K and beyond. ”Emerging Media Technology” will examine how emerging technologies, including VR and AR, will affect the users’ experience. The HPA Tech Retreat UK will introduce important questions and open them for serious analysis, such as, Will cinema become a VR world? Will AR find its way into the cinema? Will on-demand technologies take theatregoers into a new era of experiential choice? Is VR content already mainstream?

Stay on top of the rapidly evolving program offerings at hpatechretreatuk.com.

Several other special events are on tap: The Charles Poynton & John Watkinson Seminar: “Practical Aspects of HDR: Implementation and Deployment”, will take place on 12 July. These highly regarded experts will explore the crucial technology that touches acquisition, post production/digital intermediate (DI) (especially colour grading), studio display, mastering, distribution, and display in both cinema and home. Poynton and Watkinson will discuss metadata and its interpretation, and adaptation of the HDR system to varying display and viewing characteristics. Expect discussion of last-minute developments. Delegates may attend this event alone or add it to their Tech Retreat registration.

Also, the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) has announced its first PlugFest, which will be collocated with the HPA Tech Retreat UK. The DPP UHD PlugFest will also set to take place at Heythrop Park, 12 July. Please note that registration for the DPP UHD PlugFest is separate from the HPA event and is managed through DPP at www.digitalproductionpartnership.co.uk.

Deadlines for program submission has been extended to 14 May. Details about the Innovation Zone will be announced imminently.

28 2016 Apr

Ang Lee Presents 11-minute sequence from “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” during SMPTE’s Future of Cinema Conference @NABShow. Superlative laden praise followed.

(L-R) Film editor Tim Squyres, filmmaker Ang Lee, production systems supervisor Ben Gervais, Sony Pictures Entertainment Vice President of Production Technology Scot Barbour, stereographer Demetri Portelli and moderator David Cohen from Variety

(L-R) Film editor Tim Squyres, filmmaker Ang Lee, production systems supervisor Ben Gervais, Sony Pictures Entertainment Vice President of Production Technology Scot Barbour, stereographer Demetri Portelli and moderator David Cohen from Variety

The weekend of SMPTE’s Future of Cinema Conference at NAB, Lee and his key collaborators presented an 11-minute sequence of the film, currently set for release in November of 2016.  It became one of the most talked about events during the NAB week.

The story is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, has been hailed as a hero and brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad – contrasting the realities of the Iraq conflict with America’s celebration back home.  Lee has used the tools of technology to create an unusually emotional impact.

SMPTE presented a series of screenings of the sequence in a specially created screening room. Those screenings were followed by a panel discussion with Ang Lee, editor Tim Squyres, ACE, production systems supervisor Ben Gervais, Sony Pictures Entertainment VP of Production Technology Scot Barbour, and stereographer Demetri Portelli. The discussion was moderated by Variety’s David Cohen. As Cohen noted in his follow up article, by the time Lee took he stage, the excitement in the packed-to-the-rafters room, was palpable.

The sequence was screened in its native format – 3D, at 4K resolution and 120 frames per second for each eye- and was predominantly hailed as “stunning”by those exiting the theatre.  While there may have been a few who had a less profound reaction, there was little doubt that everyone there had seen something special, a creative expression worth thought, discussion and consideration. It was different.  Even combined with the knowledge that the vast majority of theater goers will not see this film in this format, it’s simply not realistic for mass exhibition, there was no doubt that the sequence was beautiful filmmaking, and glimpsed the use of a powerful tool for storytelling. Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk” is bravura technology in the hands of a brilliant storyteller.

SMPTE presented a series of screenings of the sequence in a specially created screening room.  

28 2016 Apr

TESTRONIC OPENS VIRTUAL REALITY TESTING CENTER, INTRODUCES NEW COO

Testronic Logo 2016HPA member and Creativity & Innovation Award winner, Testronic, have announced the expansion of their testing and QA capabilities to include Virtual Reality testing with the opening of the Testronic VR Testing Center.  The VR Testing Center is now part of Testronic’s testing operations in Warsaw, Poland, a facility purpose-built to test games, entertainment content, consumer electronics, and software.

The VR service offering is the result of the company’s long term VR strategy, to enable their customers to be confident that the experience they are providing is the very best, and most reliable, that it can be.  Jason Gish, Senior VP and GM of Testronic US noted, “Virtual Reality is as exciting as it is challenging. With such an incredibly complex environment, QA and testing must adapt in kind. Instead of the normal functionality and compatibility focus, much of the VR QA focus is on user experience.   With our history in UX and our vast experience in games, TV and Film QA, Testronic is uniquely positioned and qualified for a variety of content in VR.”

The company has also recently announced additions to its senior management team. Keith Ramsdale has come on board as COO of Testronic.  A respected presence in the games industry, Ramsdale served as SVP of Electronic Arts for nearly two decades before joining Testronic.

Testronic plays an active role in the HPA community, and Gish has recently stepped up to help present the HPA SCRG events.

28 2016 Apr

In the marketplace of next-generation imaging HDR quite literally stands out.

Christine Bunish Talks With Mark Schubin about HDR

April - Mark Schubin ImageMark Schubin (www.schubincafe.com) notes that tests show both HDR and HFR are “perceptually significant” for viewers while 4K and wider color gamut offer fairly small perceptual improvements. This leads Schubin to believe that HDR delivers “the most bang for the data” providing the greatest perceptual image improvement with, theoretically, no increase in bit rate (practically, a little increase).

HDR also offers more colors with the same primaries in a TV set and might not even require shading when shooting. While HFR lends itself to fast-moving content such as sports, there’s some concern about the look it brings to scripted programming. Admittedly, HDR makes motion artifacts more visible, but it maintains that suspension of disbelief viewers prize for the vast array of narrative content they watch. All things considered, “There’s no form of programming that can’t show improvement in HDR,” Schubin declares.

HDR is happening now in production and post. “There’s no downside to HDR acquisition,” says Schubin, “and in post there’s more flexibility in grading and creating pictures for standard distribution channels.”

But the number of flavors of HDR and no agreement on transmission standards to cinemas and homes means HDR distribution is not likely any time soon. “It took decades for HD to be accepted,” Schubin reminds us. “We shouldn’t look for HDR to happen overnight.”

The timeline for HDR depends upon “who’s pushing it,” he says. “The TV set manufacturers want HDR to happen real fast because sales are down after everyone bought HD TVs. Consumers need a reason to buy new sets. Creatives find HDR to be a good tool and are using it now in production and post. Distributors, on the other hand, say let’s take our time.”

HDR comes with some distribution issues that need to be resolved, Schubin points out. With HDR’s greater luminosity will a visual “loudness” control be required for commercials that are too bright, just as the FCC’s CALM Act tamed the audio volume of booming spots? And how about power consumption? It looks like HDR TVs pumping out one bright scene after another could violate the California law on the amount of power a TV set can consume.

Although no new technologies are needed for HDR, everyone will have to invest in new equipment. In fact, manufacturers are counting on it.

“It was hard to find a major booth at NAB without HDR in it,” Schubin reports. In addition to HDR or HDR-compatible monitors and cameras, “lens manufacturers were talking improved optical transmission; isovideo showed a converter that took in HDR and squirted out SDR; Atomos had its camera-mounted monitors showing HDR. Panasonic’s HDR demo used Sony HDR monitors – without covering up the Sony name. The whole industry wants HDR to move along!”

Even if HDR stands apart in next-generation imaging it won’t be the only choice creatives implement, Schubin emphasizes. Imaging options “must co-exist” to provide audiences with an optimal viewing experience, he believes. Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee unveiled an 11-minute demo at NAB, which Schubin says combined 120fps acquisition with HDR and wide color gamut. “It stunned the audience.”

28 2016 Apr

President’s Letter: Volunteers at the Heart of the HPA

Hello,Seth Hallen

Since accepting the HPA presidential baton earlier this year, I’ve been engaging with many of our members, event attendees and volunteers.  Meeting and talking with them, I am inspired by their overall excitement about the HPA and the importance they place in this organization, and many have asked how they can get more involved.  While having these discussions, I found myself reflecting on the last decade of my own experiences with the HPA.

I was reminded that the HPA means so many different things to different people. Many folks make the trek out to the desert every year to attend the Tech Retreat, and that is the only HPA event they attend.  To those Tech Retreaters, that is the HPA; a productive and insightful week of education, information and networking.  Others only attend the annual HPA Awards gala, or the Women in Post events, or our SCRG luncheons.  And there are, of course, some who attend them all.

My first HPA experience was over a decade ago, in 2005, at an after work social mixer at a restaurant & bar called Lola’s (gatherings you too, may remember).  When I walked in I was immediately struck by the range of professions and interests in the group…editors, facility managers, salespeople, engineers and business owners.   I was impressed with the tangible sense of community and camaraderie the folks in this room had.  At that point, I didn’t know anything about Tech Retreats or any other events.  I just thought that the HPA was a series of “social events.”  But as I got more involved, it didn’t take long to figure out how impactful the HPA is to our industry and how much potential this organization had to continue its mission of service to our community.

Over the past decade, the HPA became incredibly important to me, and I focused on the organization and the relationships I made here.  It has been exciting and extremely gratifying to participate in and experience the growth of the HPA and to witness first hand the countless ways the HPA impacts individuals and shapes our community.  The HPA continues to grow, evolve and provide leadership for our industry during a time of exciting change.

One of the most important take-aways from the discussions is the simple fact that everything that happens at the HPA is only made possible by an army of dedicated volunteers who make it a priority to donate their precious time to this organization.  The HPA is fully committed to providing education, recognition, advocacy and community to our industry through its events and outreach programs.  But none of these initiatives would happen without these passionate individuals.  In the process of volunteering, friends are made, connections are deepened, knowledge is shared and our community is strengthened.  Ultimately, this plays a key role in enabling our industry to make those important steps forward. Volunteerism is the heart and soul of the HPA.

Why should you volunteer?
Are volunteers simply “volunteer-itis” stricken zombies just milling around and mindlessly “helping out” because they have nothing better to do?  The truth is, many HPA volunteers are industry professionals with thriving, successful careers, with very little extra time but are trying to deepen their interaction with others and enrich their careers by getting more engaged with their community.

Here are few of the things HPA volunteers say about their participation:

  1. They tend to gain deeper connections with industry colleagues, influencers and the collective wisdom.
  2. Recognition within the industry through HPA event participation is multiplied.
  3. They gain a deep level of satisfaction after having “given back” to the community they love and playing a key role in helping shape our industry.

So, raise your hand.  You won’t regret it, and my bet is that you’ll be delighted that you joined your peers at the HPA.  We need you.  We’re evolving and growing and it’s such an exciting time to get more involved.  With the HPA Tech Retreat UK and the 2016 HPA Awards season kicking off, there are plenty of opportunities.  And, I hope that a decade from now, someone else who got the volunteer bug will be writing the President’s column, telling their story about how they decided to help.  Please reach out to me if you have any questions about HPA, how you’d like to help, or how we can serve you.

With warm regards,

Seth Hallen

28 2016 Apr

THE ART OF POST

artofpostThere is life after Post. A creative life.

From The Molecule, comes a brilliant way to share and experience the art of your post production community. The Art of Post is a bicoastal art show by, and for, members of the post-production community. Held in LA on May 12th, and in New York May 13, The Molecule will host a night to celebrate the art that happens after the show goes on air or in the theater.

After the work is finished and the doors closed, many producers, colorists, editors and effects artists have their own personal wrap parties. Whether it’s to relax or blow off steam from rigorous show schedules, the post community is full of painters, photographers, sculptors and even woodworkers.
Come see what they are up to.

MAY 12, 2016 • 7-10PM PYO GALLERY LA
MAY 13, 2016 • 8-11PM WHITE SPACE CHELSEA

If you’d like to show your artwork, The Molecule invites you to submit your hidden and, often, not-so-hidden creative outlets for public display and community enrichment. Please fill out the online form by May 6th at www.artofpost.com.

For info on the LOS ANGELES event, call or write: info-la@artofpost.com, (323) 962-6100. For info on the NEW YORK event, call or write:info-ny@artofpost.com,(212) 300-5320

The Art of Post is presented by The Molecule, a Visual Effects, Motion Graphics, and VR studio in New York and Los Angeles.

28 2016 Apr

LINE UP FOR ACE EDITFEST LONDON ANNOUNCED

April - EditFest LondonEditFest London will return to the British Film Institute Southbank on Saturday, 25 June 2016 with a line up of editing stars for the event’s Fourth Year in the UK.

EditFest London again brings a lineup of editing stars to its 4th annual EditFest London.  ACE President Alan Heim, ACE will serve as host for the day long event.

Panels include:

  • Small Screen, Big Picture – The Television Editors, featuring Christopher Blunden, ACE (Stella); Gary Dollner, ACE (Veep); Mark Eckersley (War & Peace); and Úna Ní Dhonghaile (The Missing, Dr. Who).
  • From Dailies to Delivery – Editing Features will showcase Sim Evan Jones, ACE (Shawn the Sheep, The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek);  Paul Machliss, ACE (The World’s End, Scott Pilgrim vs the World);  Nathan Nugent ( Room); and John Wilson, ACE (Me Before You, Billy Elliot.)

EditFest London is privileged to add a fourth panel devoted entirely to editors Axel Geddes and Sarah Reimers discussing the Pixar animation process while unveiling sneak peeks of Finding Dory and its accompanying short, Piper.

EFL Editors

The esteemed editor Paul Hirsch, ACE, will be the focus of our one-on-one conversation, discussing a career filled with highlights. As the editor of the original Star Wars, Footloose, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol and the new version of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise, Paul will bring a wealth of knowledge to attendees.

Earlybird tickets are available online at www.editfest.com. EditFest London is supported by Platinum sponsor Blackmagic Design and Gold Sponsor Avid.