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21 2016 Jun

Virtual Reality Experts Weigh In During Event at Linwood Dunn

Byline: Debra Kaufman

On May 25, at the Motion Picture Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater, the Hollywood section of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers hosted a presentation on “VR/AR and other confusing names for a very exciting topic!” With virtual reality much in the news, it was no surprise that the event, which was organized and moderated by SMPTE Hollywood Secretary, Anthony Magliocco, quickly sold out, with Marty Meyer introducing the event.

“We aim to provide education, insight, understanding of what’s going on in the marketplace,” says Magliocco. “We pick topics that help our colleagues in the industry catch up on trends. We wanted to make sure we covered virtual reality because many people are trying to figure it out.”

Four speakers each addressed an aspect of VR.  Phil Lelyveld, who is the program manager of the Virtual Reality/Augmented Initiative Program Manager at the Entertainment Technology Center at USC gave a very informative overview of how to define virtual reality, the companies and technologies involved and the skillsets required to create it. “Phil did a great job of giving us a big picture, to calibrate the topic,” says Magliocco. “SMPTE is about engineering, but we have to deal with the whole ecosystem of entertainment. “What became clear is that VR is a term used for many, many formats including 360-degree and 180-degree video, 2D and 3D, for use cases in entertainment, games, military, research.”

The next speaker, Lucas Wilson focused on actual VR production and post. Wilson, who comes from a background of working in 3D and post, now does independent production for Jaunt VR, one of the many VR companies producing content with cameras ranging from GoPros to Nokia OZOs. Wilson also showed images from a recent VR project for musician Paul McCartney.

Addressing the topic of live VR production was Michael Davies, senior vice president, Fox Sports Media Group Field and Technical Operations. Davies reported that his company is working on VR content for the U.S. Open, its eighth VR production,; previous live VR projects covered boxing, golf and NASCAR. Working in collaboration with virtual reality production company NextVR, Fox Sports delivers both live VR and short VOD pieces as streaming media. “VOD complements the live,” he says, pointing out that people can engage in the VOD content when there’s a lull in the live action.

Although there aren’t many people now watching the VR sporting events, Davies says that as consumer devices proliferate, so will the viewers. “Videogames will drive the initial pickup, but live entertainment and a continued stream of new content will be what really fuels this medium,” he says. “In that way, sports can play a huge role in virtual reality.”

The evening’s program ended with Daniel Oberlerchner, director of content operations at Deluxe’s newly opened VR division. He noted that, just like the first automobile looked like a horse carriage, “VR looks like old media right now.” But that will change, he says, and VR becomes more advanced.

He described Room Scale VR, which “refers to the technology that creates a fully immersive 3D volume where we can keep the virtual world still while you can move around in it.” “Impeccable tracking is needed to deliver room-scale VR in an ergonomic fashion,” he said. “VR needs smart people, and lots of the necessary skillsets can be found in our industry.”

In the audience, Pickfair Institute founder Jonathan Erland, who dubs himself a VR skeptic, was among the many who declared the VR program “excellent.” “I found myself challenged by much of what I heard,” he said. “For an immersive experience, a travelogue, say, VR is wonderful.  For the gaming field, as well as driver ed simulators, VR is perfect.  For the photoplay it’s not so simple. Exercising such a fine degree of control over audience perception is going to be a whole new challenge in the cinema of virtual reality where the audience can look anywhere and focus on anything it wants. But the discussion at the SMPTE meeting suggests that it just may be possible to achieve something worthwhile.”

24 2016 May

HPA Awards Open Creative Categories: Submit now until July 8th

The Call for Entries has opened for Creative Categories for the 11th annual HPA Awards. These categories, considered the standard bearer for groundbreaking work and artistic excellence, recognize creative artistry in the field of post production.

The HPA Awards promote the achievement of talent, innovation and engineering excellence in the larger professional media content industry. The 11th annual gala awards presentation will be held on the evening of November 17, 2016 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California.

The HPA Awards now invite entries in the following competitive categories:

  • Outstanding Color Grading – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Color Grading – Television
  • Outstanding Color Grading – Commercial
  • Outstanding Editing – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Editing – Television
  • Outstanding Editing – Commercial
  • Outstanding Sound – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Sound – Television
  • Outstanding Sound – Commercial
  • Outstanding Visual Effects – Feature Film
  • Outstanding Visual Effects – Television
  • Outstanding Visual Effects – Commercial

Entries for the Creative Categories will be accepted between May 16 and July 8, 2016, and Early Bird Entries (reduced entry fee for the Creative Categories) will be taken through June 10, 2016. To be considered eligible, work must have debuted domestically and/or internationally during the eligibility period, September 9, 2015 through September 6, 2016. Entrants do not need to be members of the Hollywood Professional Association or working in the U.S.

Additional honors, including the HPA Lifetime Achievement Award, will be announced later this year.

Seth Hallen, President of the HPA and a founding member of the HPA Awards Committee, commented, “Over the past 10 years, the HPA Awards have grown to become one of the most important venues of recognition for creative talent in our industry.  Considered a standard-bearer, these awards are uniquely meaningful to the winners and nominees since the judging panels are made up of their peers.  I heartily encourage individuals and companies that worked on all of the amazing projects from the past year to enter the HPA Awards creative categories.  This is our opportunity to shine a light on the talent and effort that goes into bringing stories to life and to the individuals who play such important roles in making it all happen.  We look forward to another very special event on November 17th.”

For a list of the previous years’ winners, click here.

Complete rules, guidelines and entry information for the Creative Categories and all of the HPA Awards are available at: www.hpaawards.net.

The HPA Awards are made possible through the generous sponsorship of Title Sponsor Blackmagic Design; Foundation Members Avid, Co3, Deluxe, Dolby. EFILM, Encore; and Gold Sponsor Sohonet. For sponsorship or program advertising opportunities, contact Mary Vinton or Jeff Victor by visiting HPA Awards website at www.hpaawards.net or calling 213.614.0860. Opening of ticket sales will be announced shortly.

24 2016 May

This Is Where The Next Big Thing Will Come From: The SMPTE HPA Student Film Festival

Call For Entries Issued for 2016 Fest

For the second year in a row, SMPTE and HPA have joined forces to seek out students who are creatively using technology in the service of storytelling, to enter the SMPTE HPA Student Film Festival.

A call for entries for the 2016 Festival has opened, and entries will be accepted until 28th of June. The organizations will host the 2016 SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival in conjunction with the SMPTE 2016 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2016) on Oct. 26 in Hollywood, California. Launched in 2015, “The SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival is growing into a rich showcase of student work, with outstanding short films being submitted from around the world,” said SMPTE President Robert Seidel. “It’s always exciting to see the fresh techniques and ideas put forward by student filmmakers, and I’m sure this year will be no exception.”

The SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival highlights the creative use of technology by young filmmakers, as it is employed in the art and craft of storytelling. The festival is open to full-time students currently enrolled in an accredited college, university, or film school. This is an international festival, and entries from all parts of the world are encouraged. As the festival focuses on technology, students should ideally major in an area that emphasizes engineering, science, advanced technologies, or fundamental theories associated with motion imaging, sound, metadata, and workflows consistent with SMPTE’s and HPA’s fields of interest.

Films must adhere to time limit requirements, which include all main titles and ending credits. Students may submit films for consideration in one of the following six categories:

  • Best creative use of entertainment technology to engage the audience in the story – narrative format. (max. five min.)
  • Best creative use of entertainment technology to engage the audience in the story – narrative format. (max. 30 sec.)
  • Best portrayal of entertainment technology in the film – documentary format. (max. five min.)
  • Best portrayal of entertainment technology in the film – documentary format. (max. 30 sec.)
  • Best use of virtual reality in storytelling – narrative format. (max. three min.)
  • Best use of mobile device or tablet to convey a story – narrative format. (max. three min.)

All entries recognized as Official Selections are automatically eligible for the 2016 SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival “Audience Award,” which is voted on by festival attendees during the event and presented at the conclusion of the evening.

Entries will be accepted now through June 27, at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/SMPTEFilmFestival. To be eligible to submit a film, students must have completed four courses toward their major course of study and be in good academic standing. They must present supporting documentation and identification in order to qualify.

There is no fee to enter, and SMPTE membership is not a prerequisite for submission of a film. However, students may join as student members of SMPTE for just $10 — or for free if this is their first year of membership — when they apply via the Student Membership Challenge (SMC). Travel to the festival is not sponsored by SMPTE or HPA.

 

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24 2016 May

HPA Women In Post Announces Summer Dates!

Mark your calendars! The first HPA Women In Post Luncheon is June 16th!

HPA’s Women In Post group is a vibrant gathering place for our community.  Three not-to-be missed events have been announced for this summer, and more exciting news and events are coming.

The Women In Post luncheons are held on the third Thursday in June, July and August, 11:30 am- 2 pm.

The June 16th event will be held at Simmzy’s 3000 W Olive Ave, Burbank CA 91505.  July will be in Hollywood and August on the Westside.

24 2016 May

HPA Tech Retreat UK Slate Grows, Seats Filling Fast!

Further additions to the powerful schedule have  been announced for the HPA Tech Retreat UK.  Joining the exclusive, behind the scenes look at Game of Thrones, and a look at programming for the future from Netflix, are a number of must-attend sessions.  Ultra Everything, featuring panelists from BT, BBC, HBO, Netflix; HDR in Live Production; Emerging Media Technology, a look behind the scenes of Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk” including Tessive time shaping techniques, RealD True Image software, and the latest updates on workflow innovation.  That’s just a small sample of what’s in store for those who attend the UK debut of this incredible event, 13 – 14 July, in Oxfordshire at the Heythrop Park Resort, a gorgeous venue, just 1.5 hours from London.

The Innovation Zone is packed full of the very latest and most cutting edge technology, and don’t forget the amazing networking opportunities with lunches and dinners for attendees, a welcome dinner sponsored by Dell, a cocktail event sponsored by Sohonet, and plenty of time to discuss, debate and converse. Register now, to make sure of your spot.

24 2016 May

Association of Moving Image Archivists President Andrea Kalas Looks Ahead

AMIA President Andrea Kalas recently moderated a panel at the NAB Show’s popular weekend conference, Future of Cinema, entitled, “Next Generation Mastering: Where Do We Go From Here?” In addition to Kalas, the panel featured: Rod Bogart (HBO,) Annie Chang (Disney,) Chris Clark (Netflix) and Thad Beier (Dolby), all recognized experts who regularly confront the challenges and opportunities in the world of content that they own or manage. In a lively discussion, where PowerPoints were not invited, the group dove into the complexities of future-proofing next generation storytelling.

L to R: Rod Bogart, HBO; Annie Chang, Disney; Chris Clark, Neflix; Thad Beier, Dolby; Andrea Kalas, AMIA 2016 Future of Cinema Conference, NAB, The Future of Mastering

L to R: Rod Bogart, HBO; Annie Chang, Disney; Chris Clark, Neflix; Thad Beier, Dolby; Andrea Kalas, AMIA 2016 Next Generation Mastering: Where Do We Go From Here?

I was fortunate enough to have some of the smartest stakeholders in Hollywood join me in the recent discussion at NAB. Our commonalities of problems and questions across studios, networks, and technology companies help us to collaborate to keep the future safe for filmmakers. It will take a group effort to bring order to a field that is perpetually changing.

The panel addressed an array of complex issues, from the growth and focus on Ultra High Definition (UHD), High Dynamic Range (HDR), higher resolution and color space technologies, to the fundamental questions of what must be preserved. Issues arose around the lack of a common naming protocol for assets, which is in need of clarification. “Digital preservation master,” “Super D.I.,” “No LUT source master,” and “Graded HDR master,” are used in various settings, all of which imply different yet overlapping aspects of the assets. It’s clear that managing and streamlining the changing technologies will warrant continued exploration and mind-sharing. In spite of the differences of approach and the inherent challenges, there is commonality in the dedication to preserving the permanence of creative authorship, saving what is necessary, deciding what is not, and building a rule-set that helps keep all the elements of the creative effort secure.

AMIA is the place where complex issues such as these and many others are explored. Our organization combines both archival and technical expertise, in a manner that does not exist anywhere else. It is the one place where the expertise formally resides to discuss moving image preservation in the digital world.  I bring a strong perspective about the role of the archivist in the changing media landscape. The role of archivists is to listen to stakeholders and ensure that the right things are preserved. During the NAB event, it was clear that members of the audience and the panel all wanted to find ways to make sure that the work of directors, cinematographers, sound designers, visual effects artists, and colorists are preserved into the future.

Just think, a format that was invented for special effects is now an integral tool for all types of moving images, because at some point now, all images are ultimately made by computers. There are going to be more such advances, not less, as our community continues to invent and expand. Helping to manage the process and educate the constituents at work in it, is a core part of AMIA’s mission.

AMIA is everyone. Our members come from everywhere – studios, small archives, giant archives, broadcasters, technology innovators, universities, filmmakers and technology companies – and they are in the trenches on these issues. I always say that one way to solve your issues is to hire a moving image archivist!

The AMIA Annual Conference is set for Pittsburgh, PA, in November.

24 2016 May

MTI Film at NAB 2016

At NAB 2016, MTI Film launched the latest version of its groundbreaking dailies and media management software Cortex with new features for IMF deliveries, dead pixel correction, Dolby Vision, 4K up-resing and editing, as well as many UI improvements. Originally conceived as a streamlined dailies processing application, Cortex has developed into an end-to-end solution for managing media from the set through delivery. New and updates features from NAB 2016 included: IMF and ASO2 Support, Dolby Vision, Dead Pixel Detection and Correction, UpRes to 4K and Edit Tool. Other Cortex features include: Playback, Copy & Verify, Cortex Manifest, Sync, Deliverables, Track and Trace, Color Trace, Transcode, HD-SDI and HDMI Output and Cortex Share.

24 2016 May

Thinklogical’s Uncompressed CATx KVM Solution Debuts at NAB Show 2016

Thinklogical, a global manufacturer of secure, high performance signal extension and switching systems for video-rich applications, announced the U.S. debut of its new TLX Series CATx matrix switches and extenders at NAB Show 2016.

The new, uncompressed TLX CATx product line from Thinklogical includes video and KVM extenders and a range of matrix switches from 12 to 640 ports, and is priced to be highly competitive with compressed and IP-based KVM and video signal management solutions from other vendors. TLX CATx is fully compatible and interoperable with the TLX fiber-optic product line, offering users increased system flexibility in new and existing installations, and a scalable, future-proof upgrade path. Providing a 100 percent uncompressed signal path on either CATx or fiber cabling with the lowest signal latency in the industry (microseconds, vs. milliseconds for compressed solutions), offering precise pixel-for-pixel transmission of 4K DCI/UHD resolution video (up to 4096 x 2160 resolution, 60Hz frame rate, 4:4:4 color depth) with no visual artifacts, jitter or lost frames, and instantaneous computer peripheral responsiveness, Thinklogical has increased user efficiency and productivity without compromising quality, resolution, reliability or performance.

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.