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27 2016 Jul

Testronic Opens Groundbreaking Virtual Reality Test Center in U.S.

Jason Gish

Jason Gish

Testronic, the leader in quality assurance (QA), localization services and compliance, has unveiled a dedicated virtual reality (VR) test center in its U.S. headquarters in Burbank, California. The VR test center opened in the company’s 1st Street office this week, making it the second VR testing location launched by Testronic this year with a successful operation already up and running in Warsaw, Poland. The VR centers further bolster the full-service QA testing services that Testronic has offered to studios, content holders, and game developers for nearly 20 years.

“A great service company must always stay ahead of its clients’ needs,” said Jason Gish, senior VP Film & Television for Testronic. “This requires being at the cutting edge of consumer technology in order to provide the industry with the highest quality service offerings.

“Virtual reality is going to have a huge impact in entertainment, and Testronic is here to ensure consumers get the best experience,” added Gish. “This is an exceptionally complex technology, requiring a new and innovative test approach that utilizes Testronic’s unique depth of experience across games, apps, software, film and television. We are excited and ready to take on the challenge.”

Gish continued, “Consumer VR is in its infancy and nobody knows what it will become years from now. We are only beginning to see some of its potential in a variety of industries. As VR evolves, consumer expectations will grow, requiring more exploratory and inventive QC processes. VR content must be robust, compliant, and deployable across a variety of apps and devices. Testing VR content has unique requirements, and the integrity of VR content is crucial to its functionality. It is critical to have an understanding of aspects like head tracking, and other core VR functions, in order to develop a thorough test approach. Issues in VR can not only take you out of the experience, but can cause simulator sickness. Beyond testing for the usual bugs and functionality imperfections, VR is deeply rooted in user experience and Testronic’s test approach reflects that understanding.”

Testronic was also an early testing pioneer of User Experience (UX), developing one of the first UX labs in the U.S.

“Testronic’s ultimate goal on every single project is to ensure a high quality experience for the audience regardless of the format or device,” noted Gish. “We’ve built an unparalleled reputation in that area.”

Testronic’s first VR test center, which opened in Testronic’s Poland office in March, is working on a number of titles. Gish concludes, “We are in close collaboration with our studio and developer clients and partners to make sure that we are in front of the trends that they are responding to. It’s a very exciting time in the industry and at Testronic.”

26 2016 Jul

SAVE THE DATE – VES Summit on Saturday, 29 October 2016 at the Sofitel in Beverly Hills

VES logoJoin the Visual Effects Society (VES) for their annual one-day summit devoted to shaping the future of the visual effects industry. This interactive forum will bring together top creatives, executives, thought leaders and visionaries from diverse disciplines to explore the dynamic evolution of visual imagery in a TED Talks-like atmosphere.

This year’s theme “What is Real?” explores the realities of virtual and physical experiences, new technologies, new business platforms and the latest storytelling forms through:

  • Expert Panel Discussions
  • Thought-leading Speakers
  • Networking Roundtables
  • Product Display and Demo Booths

This year’s speakers to be announced soon. Over the years previous VES Summit Speakers have included current and former AMPAS Presidents Cheryl Boone Isaacs,  Sid Ganis and Hawk Koch; Illumination Entertainment Founder and CEO Chris Meledandri; director/writer/producer Dean Devlin; Executive Producer/EVP of VFX & Post Marvel Studios Victoria Alonso; former head of the MPAA Bob Pisano; former Chairman of Fox Bill Mechanic; President of Digital Production Animation & VFX at Warner Bros.  Chris deFaria and President of Feature Post-production at 20th Century Fox Ted Gagliano, among others.  Additionally, we have included more esoteric speakers, such as Nagin Cox from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who spoke about the Mars rover Curiosity, and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic who spoke about the future of space travel.

To purchase tickets, go to: https://www.visualeffectssociety.com/news-events/summit/tabs/2016-register

To enjoy sponsorship recognition while networking with 200+ entertainment professional and thought leaders, please contact Nancy Ward at ward@VisualEffectsSociety.com

About the Visual Effects Society
The Visual Effects Society (VES) is the entertainment industry’s only official organization representing over 3,000 visual effects practitioners including studio executives, supervisors, artists, producers, technology developers and educators in 30+ countries with 10 global Sections. Our global members contribute to all areas of entertainment from animation, hybrid films, films, television, VR&AR and commercials to music videos, games and new media. The top grossing 100 films of all time are visual effects driven or animated films:  http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/. To learn more about the VES, visit www.visualeffectssociety.com and follow us on Twitter @VFXSociety.

26 2016 Jul

HPA Tech Retreat UK Makes Auspicious Debut

During the week of July 13-14, in a glorious Oxfordshire location, HPA Tech Retreat brought 150 of the industry’s best and brightest together to share, converse, and consider the most important developments in the industry.  The HPA Tech Retreat UK is the first global event from HPA, and brought much of the flavor of the US event with a decidedly UK flavor.

Richard Welsh, former SMPTE governor and CEO of SunDog Media ToolKit, pulled a great event together.  Panelists took attendees behind the scenes and into their work on The Jungle Book, Game of Thrones, Finding Dory, and Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk. The Innovation Zone featured 20 of the most compelling technologies and companies. Take a peek at some of the engaging times had by attendees.

A special thank you to our sponsors Bell Theatre Services, Black magic Design, Dell, Dolby, Harman Kardon, Pixspan, RealD, Sohonet, Sony, and  Visual Data Media Services.

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26 2016 Jul

HPA Engineering Excellence and Judges Award for Creativity & Innovation

Judging 2

IMAX opened its doors for the judging of the Engineering Excellence and Creativity Innovation presentations this month. The judging sessions featured two rooms of judging, top tier judges and outstanding presentations. Winners will be announced soon.

Judging

26 2016 Jul

Scale Logic offers Post Warranty support

For customers who want to stretch their ROI on EMC/Isilon, NetApp, HDS, Cisco, Brocade, and others at 50% of the OEM’s price.  SLI provides 24x7x4HR support to 120 countries worldwide and with terms from six months to five years in length.

“Grow what you have” with options on refurbished/certified nodes and full clusters from Isilon, NetApp, Hitachi, and more at 40-60% off OEM pricing. We wrap our refurbished hardware with 24x7x4hr support, or run with our one year replacement warranty. When you are ready for a refresh we can assist with data migration, trade-ins or certified recycling of your old hardware.

26 2016 Jul

20 Emmy-Nominated Shows Supported by Services from the SIM Group

The SIM Group is proud to announce that its companies provided production and post-production services to 20 television productions nominated in the 68th Emmy® Awards. The 20 productions received a total of 123 nominations. Among them are Game of Thrones, The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, and Fargo with 23 nominations, 22 nominations and 18 nominations, respectively.

The 68th Emmy Awards will air Sunday, September 18th on ABC; Chainsaw is editing the nominee packages and doing all picture finishing.

26 2016 Jul

FuseFX Applies an Inspired Touch to AMC’s “Preacher”

Visual effects production for the first season of AMC’s drama Preacher is in high gear at FuseFX, Los Angeles, as artists work to enhance the series’ ample servings of supernatural mayhem. The pilot episode alone featured more than 250 VFX shots with a high degree of integration that achieves a seamless marriage between the practical photography and the digital effects.

FuseFX’s Kevin Lingenfelser serves as Production and Facility VFX Supervisor on the series (Paul Linden was Production VFX Supervisor for the pilot), with Casey Conroy as VFX Producer. They lead a compact but focused team of animators, visual effects artists and compositors whose work includes FX simulations, CG animals, blue screen/green screen composites, digital set extensions, fully-realized matte paintings, CG chainsaw blades, muzzle flashes, and elaborate blood and gore, or as Lingenfelser puts it, “everything AND the kitchen sink.”

26 2016 Jul

The Reel Thing

Grover Crisp

Grover Crisp

Grover Crisp (Sony Pictures executive vice president, asset management, film restoration & digital management) and Michael Friend (Sony Pictures director, digital archive, asset management) are creators and co-organizers of The Reel Thing, a symposium on restoration and archiving of moving image and sound, from the beginnings of the late 19th century to the digital present. Debra Kaufman had a chance to ask them some questions about the 38th edition of The Reel Thing, which will take place 18-20 August  at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood.

What are we going to see at The Reel Thing this year?

The Reel Thing will feature presentations on using digital technologies (scanning, color correction, frame rate adjustment, color space and gamut) to present legacy films optimally in digital formats, modern tools for audio restoration, the excavation of a ‘jukebox’ format for presenting band shorts, the complex process of restoring Olympic films, the evolution of modern scanners, and efforts to restore the work of Louis Delluc, a stylish French innovator of the 1920s.

There will also be premiere screenings of several films: John Huston’s Beat the Devil, restored to the original, uncensored version; Marlon Brando’s only directorial effort, One-Eyed Jacks, restored by Universal in collaboration with The Film Foundation, and Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller, recently restored by Criterion Collection.

What is the current state of films that need restoration?

Hundreds of millions of feet of film have been transferred from nitrate to safety film, and many films transferred to high definition digital formats. Today, we are bringing that legacy up to a new, much higher standard of quality at 4K with high dynamic range. In addition to re-visiting preservation work done previously, we are also applying new technologies for restoration (stabilization, dust busting, flicker correction and color restoration) in ways that vastly improve upon what we could do in the 1970-1990s, which was the modern era of film preservation. Many nitrate negatives, even those with damage, are still serviceable. But they are at risk and, whenever we can, we go back to those negatives using modern scanners and other technologies to reveal the quality of the original films. Many films could still benefit from modern preservation techniques.

How do the studios choose which films to restore?

Our core mission is to make sure all the films in the library are preserved and, if necessary, restored. At the studios, our work to restore a film often relates to some market driver, for home entertainment or a unique television sale or theatrical release. But what also comes into play is the condition of the film, if it’s deteriorating, faded, missing something, or has ever been properly preserved. These considerations are always in conjunction with specific modes of exhibition, from theatrical release to 4K streaming. Films need restoration because, as the media of display evolve, the underlying legacy film must be prepared to accurately represent the original achievement of the filmmakers. If you need a film for Blu-ray, but it doesn’t exist on HD, or you want it for 4K UHD but it has never been scanned at 4K, it always comes down to this: you need to go back to the most original film materials and work at whatever the current highest quality format. And the formats change rapidly, of course, and keeping up with it is challenging.

How long does the typical film take to restore?

A restoration can be completed in a month or two if all the film is available and in good shape. More typically, the underlying negatives are not in perfect shape, and so different elements must be compared, methods of extraction may be tested to determine how to derive the best result, and many more hours must be expended in restoring color, removing defects, rebalancing audio and so forth. A difficult or complex restoration can take from six months to a few years, depending on the nature of the problems in the source elements and the resources available for the work.

What happens to the films not owned by a studio?

Films not owned by studios – “orphan films” as they are sometimes called – are often acquired by archives in the public sphere and restored and preserved as a part of our cultural legacy.

Will the Reel Thing be of interest to the Los Angeles post community?

Absolutely. Many people in the post-production community contribute to the work of preservation and archiving, and they are a part of our audience. Many people in the post industry are very interested in these kinds of topics and work with us to develop presentations related to their own work. As we have moved into all-digital workflows, the post community has come to realize how important archiving is to the whole project.

Can anyone go to The Reel Thing? Where should they sign up?

Anyone can come to The Reel Thing. To register, go to www.the-reel-thing.org. There are multiple levels of registration, including discounts for certain industry groups and students. One thing that is important to point out is that this event is a non-profit initiative and all donations and revenue goes to support the programs and services of the Association of Moving Image Archivists. AMIA is the key association for archivists, students, industry individuals who are working in the field of sound and moving image preservation and we are pleased that The Reel Thing symposium has been able to help support them, and they us, for many years. It’s a true service to the archival community.

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26 2016 Jul

HPA Builds for the Future: Recognizing the Next Generation of Media and Entertainment Leaders

BY: Mark Chiolis – HPA Board Member

A multi-tiered approach is underway at HPA to encourage, honor, and mentor our future leaders.

Following my fellow HPA Board member, Loren Nielsen’s great column last month on HPA’s initiative of Building for the Future, I’d like to continue with that theme, a topic of great importance for the HPA and many in our industry today.

My career in media and entertainment began when my parents’ reel to reel tape recorder broke and I decided that at the age of 10 I could take it apart and get it working once again. That way, we could continue to have the magic of recording voice and music within the family. After having enjoyed a number of positions within the industry over the course of almost 5 decades, my career has covered engineering, operations, production and post production, on-air talent, management, sales, business development and much more. I look back and wonder where the next generations of these individuals will come from as there are no longer any reel to reel recorders to break and that need to be fixed.

I had the honor of being invited to join the HPA Board over a decade ago, a time when the major focus of the organization was post production and the main event was the Tech Retreat. The term “post production” has evolved into many areas these days and the business of post-production is all encompassing. Meanwhile, the Tech Retreat continues to grow and is one of the top technical and networking gatherings in all of our industry, something I’m proud to be a part of. Being a “newbie” to the organization I wanted to help “make a difference” but at the time I didn’t quite know how, as the Tech Retreat was -and is – in great hands and running like a well-oiled watch. I approached a couple of other Board members and we kicked around some different ideas over a period of six months or so. I think it may have been during, or after, one of those famous Nola’s “networking” sessions, that fellow Board member Carolyn Giardina and I decided that the time was right for a new major undertaking for the HPA, that the Tech Retreat wasn’t enough work for a small “hands-on” Board of Directors.

Carolyn and I had the bright idea of starting an awards show to honor the creative side of the industry and celebrate those hard working individuals and companies that are the heart and soul of our membership. The dedication and perseverance of these individuals provide us with some of the highest quality commercial, television, and theatrical material the world over. After presenting our idea to the Board, they decided to humor us and provided a little seed funding to get things moving forward. We were off and running. Thanks to the great work of all of those committee members in the first few years and especially to Seth Hallen who stepped in and was able to co-chair the event with Carolyn, year one was very successful.

Over the years the HPA Awards have continued to build and evolve into the powerhouse event that it is today having honored so many, including many legends of our industry. We are looking forward to honoring others as there are so many that need to be recognized for the achievements they have contributed to our industry.

By now you’re wondering what the HPA Awards has to do with helping recognize, advance, and encourage the future leaders of our industry. What better organization and event to help make this a reality then this already established and popular awards gala, where yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s future leaders celebrate the best in the business. The HPA Awards honor accomplishment, but it’s also about learning and reaching new heights as we move forward into an ever changing, unknown, and sometimes a bit of a scary environment. The Awards is the perfect place to honor the emerging talents of our community.

As we dove into planning how to honor the young members of our community, HPA’s Women in Post were in the midst of launching Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP.) As Loren mentioned in her column last month, YEP will nurture, mentor, and help to advance the next generation of talented young men and women who are interested in the endless challenges presented in today’s world of media and entertainment. The timing was perfect to build a full mentorship presence in the HPA. Women in Post will be unveiling key elements and ways to enter candidates for YEP over the coming weeks, and the HPA Awards honor will be part of their efforts.

Like HPA has always done, we’re working together to build a platform to encourage the next generation of the HPA. As part of the YEP program the HPA Awards will select one or more individuals, 21-29 years old, to receive the HPA Emerging Leader Recognition at the HPA Awards on November 17th. Honorees will have their bio published in the awards program and we will give them a spotlight moment. This is both a great honor and some big expectations to live up to, especially considering those in the room and the accomplishments they have given to our industry.

This is a very challenging time for future generations in any industry, and even more so in Media and Entertainment. It’s never been an easy business, but today, so many great people are chasing their dreams at a time almost defined by its changes, and it is difficult for anyone to reach their dreams. HPA, through YEP and the HPA Awards is dedicated to being a support for these dreamers. We need them!

If you’re reading this Newsline, and you’re in the HPA, you already have an idea about the great industry in which we work together. While the challenges are large, the rewards provide those who are in it for the long haul a lifetime of opportunities unlike any other career choice. The kinship of others who are dedicated to the same goals and the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing is watched, appreciated, and supported by millions of viewers around the globe on a daily basis. You have the opportunity to be a part of the “established” media, to join one of the newer companies creating pathways to the future or even to go “off-roading” and make a new path and lead the next generation to places not even dreamed of in today’s world.

Over the next few weeks, HPA corporate member companies will be receiving information about how they can encourage the Young Entertainment Professionals that you have been working with and mentoring. I encourage you to support these initiatives. Could it be any better than for you to attend the HPA Awards in November and to stand up and applaud one of your nominees as they walk on stage and accept one of the coveted and very limited HPA Emerging Leaders Recognitions.

21 2016 Jul

HPA Names Michelle Munson Recipient of Charles S. Swartz Award

Honor Will Be Presented to Aspera Co-Founder and CEO

During 2016 HPA Awards

Michelle Munson

Michelle Munson

19 July, 2016 (Los Angeles, CA) The Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) has named Michelle Munson as the recipient of its 2016 Charles S. Swartz Award. Munson, co-founder and CEO of Aspera, an IBM Company, is recognized as one of industry’s most accomplished technology leaders. The HPA Awards recognize creative artistry, innovation and engineering excellence in the professional media content industry and the Charles S. Swartz Award honors the recipient’s significant impact across diverse aspects of the industry. The HPA Awards will be handed out on November 17, 2016, at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California.

Seth Hallen, President of the HPA, says of the announcement, “The Charles S. Swartz Award has special meaning to the HPA. It is bestowed with thoughtful consideration, and only when the Board and the Awards Committee feel that there is a worthy and undeniable recipient. Michelle Munson is such a person. Her intellect, talent, technical leadership, and entrepreneurial creativity represent the very cornerstone of what the Charles S. Swartz Award is meant to recognize. We are honored to present this award to Michelle.”

Michelle Munson is the co-inventor of Aspera’s Emmy award-winning FASP® transport technology and is responsible for overseeing the company’s direction in collaboration with co-founder, Serban Simu. Munson was a software engineer in research and start-up companies including the IBM Almaden Research center before founding Aspera in 2004. She has dual B.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering and in Physics from Kansas State University, was a Goldwater Scholar for achievement in Science and Mathematics, and later was a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University where she received a postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science. The youngest recipient ever of the 2006 KSU College of Engineering Alumni Fellow, Munson has also received national achievement awards from Glamour Magazine and USA Today and is a frequent speaker on technologies and trends around big data transport, cloud infrastructure, and mobile.

Munson said of the award, “I am grateful to the HPA and to all our customers and partners in the digital media industry who have supported us since our original humble beginning, and continue to shape and drive the development of our products and technology. I am tremendously honored to have received this award, and will continue to support and promote the technology innovation and entrepreneurial business spirit embodied by this award.”

The Charles S. Swartz Award may be conferred on a person, group, or company that has made a significant artistic, technological, business or educational impact across diverse aspects of the media industry. The award was named in honor of the late Charles S. Swartz, who led the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California from 2002 until 2006, building it into the industry’s premiere test bed for new digital cinema technologies. In addition to a long and successful career as a producer, educator and consultant, Mr. Swartz served on the Board of Directors of the HPA. Past recipients of the Charles S. Swartz Award include Ben Burtt, Elizabeth Daley, and Ray Dolby.

In addition to the Charles S. Swartz Award, the 11th annual HPA Awards will recognize excellence in 12 craft categories, including color grading, editing, sound and visual effects. Other special awards will be presented to winners of the Engineering Excellence Award, the Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation, and the HPA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Tickets for the HPA Awards are now available, here. For further information about the HPA Awards, visit www.hpaonline.com.