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14 2016 Dec

Monday’s TR-X Focuses on Virtual Reality

By Debra Kaufman

On Monday, February 20, 2017, the day before the official opening of the HPA Tech Retreat, a new half-day session dubbed HPA TR-X will delve into the life cycle of virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Co-chairs Lucas Wilson, founder/executive producer of SuperSphereVR, and Marcie Jastrow, senior vice president of immersive media and head of the Technicolor Experience Center, collaborated to put together an event aimed at HPA attendees. “We want to encompass as many aspects of a commercial virtual reality production as possible, to make it relevant and useful,” says Wilson. “It’s an end-to-end day that will give attendees a quick but deep dive into the VR landscape.”

Virtual reality made a splash in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it was the arena of experimenters. Now, says Wilson, the major TV networks, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, MGM, Universal, Warner Bros. and Disney are all involved. “I think VR and AR are moving pretty rapidly out of a niche and into something that looks like it will be mainstream,” says Wilson. “As more and more facilities and post production professionals get involved, it’s a brand new area, with its own unique challenges. The time was right to bring the discussion to the HPA Tech Retreat attendees.”

Wilson says he and Jastrow reached out to industry leaders to create panels and presentations from those who are working in VR storytelling, live VR, audio, camera and other relevant areas. In addition to the day’s presentation, a demo room will allow attendees to see some of the VR rigs, cameras and other acquisition gear. Jaunt VR vice president of hardware Koji Gardiner, who is in charge of the team of engineers that build Jaunt’s cinematic VR cameras, will address challenges in developing high-performance imaging systems for virtual reality. “He has a deep base of knowledge of the technology of 360 acquisition,” says Wilson, who adds that Gardiner’s expertise includes a stint in camera design at Apple.

Another panel will focus on the business of virtual reality. “People have to know about monetization models,” says Wilson. “That’s the over-arching question: who’s paying for it and how will people make their money back.”  Other speakers during the event include Ben Grossman, chief executive/co-founder at Magnopus, a “visual development and experience company,” and Jaunt VR senior manager of strategy and business development David Moretti.

Case studies will give attendees an opportunity to hear real-life stories of VR production and post. Among those presenting are RSA Films executive producer of branded content Jen Dennis and Subtractive chief executive/co-founder Kyle Schember, whose company does Dolby ATMOS VR audio. There will be a discussion on interactivity presented by The Mill, and Digital Domain will describe the production of live streaming virtual reality, with their IM360 group. Radiant Images will also participate in the presentations.

The event ends with a panel taking a look at the future of these new entertainment genres. “We’ll look at things that aren’t mainstream now but have a lot of resources dedicated to them,” promises Wilson. “Topics including volumetric capture, lightfield photography, Magic Leap, the HoloLens are areas that are getting a lot of attention but aren’t mainstream.”

TR-X registration is independent of or in addition to the HPA Tech Retreat.



18 2016 Nov

Mentors Planning Meeting Sets Stage for Future

The HPA has made it an organizational priority to promote career growth and development opportunities for young industry professionals through mentoring programs. At a lively and collaborative gathering last month, members of the HPA Board, mentors and the launch team for the mentorship initiative met to put specific steps in place for the next phase of the mentorship activities. Seth Hallen, Loren Nielsen and Leon Silverman outlined the broad path for an exciting and inclusive mentorship effort, beginning with the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) program and presenting the roadmap for other activities that will engage young members in HPA and support the path of the next generation.

The evening brought together an accomplished group of mentors, many of whom also attended the inaugural roundtable session at YEP Day at SMPTE 2016 and will continue their mentoring relationships over the course of the next year. Leon Silverman presented his ‘Fundamentals of Mentoring’ to the group and goals, development path and structure of an HPA mentoring program were discussed.

Mentoring Dinner Attendees included Jonathon Amayo, Jim DeFilippis, Lynnette Duensing, Lauren Ellis, Jan Figgins, Keith Gayhart, Barrie Godwin, Seth Hallen, Josh Haynie, George Joblove, Jesse Korosi, Bruce Long, Belinda Merritt, Marty Meyer, Loren Nielsen, Russ Paris, Christine Purse, Linda Rosner, Andrew Setos, Leon Silverman, Rakeba Simmons, Garrett Smith, and Laura Thommen.

18 2016 Nov

Panasonic Launches VariCam Workshops

Panasonic is offering a series of VariCam workshops to provide comprehensive training on VariCam 35 and LT cameras. Covering everything from on-set workflow to HDR cinematography, the hands-on workshops connect users with Panasonic VariCam specialists and industry experts. The third workshop in the seven-part series, offered on Saturday, November 19, will be VariCam Workflow, Part II – Post-production.

When and where…
Saturday, 11/19/16, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Panasonic Hollywood Lab
3330 Cahuenga Blvd W, Suite 502
Los Angeles, CA, 90068


18 2016 Nov

American Cinema Editors Presents 3 Ways to Say Congrats with Eddie’s Tribute Book

aceSince 1951, American Cinema Editors has celebrated the best in television and feature film editing at the annual ACE Eddie Awards gala. More than a thousand of the entertainment industry’s most accomplished editors, filmmakers and Hollywood elite attend the black-tie event held each year at the famed Beverly Hilton hotel. A prelude to the Oscars, the Eddies are considered a barometer for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Best Picture and Best Editing categories.

This year, the glittering ACE Eddies take place on January 27, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton. Interested in congratulating a nominee, special honoree, project or studio? There’s a way (actually 3!).  Visit the ACE website to learn more about the Tribute Book and the Eddies.

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18 2016 Nov

Visual Effects Society Issues Call for Submissions

The Visual Effects Society is now open to submissions for the 15th Annual VES Awards. Any project containing visual effects which fits the category definitions, that premiered anywhere in the world in 2016, is eligible.

Learn more  HERE.

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18 2016 Nov

5 Questions With Mark Schubin: The Maestro Speaks

Mark Schubin has been closely involved with the HPA Tech Retreat for more than 20 years.  His unique perspective and unparalleled depth of knowledge have informed the curation of an event that is seen as one of the most important technical conferences of the year.  The 2017 HPA Tech Retreat returns this year to Indian Wells, California from the 20th to 24th of February.  Before that action packed, thought packed week unfolds, we took time out of Mark’s busy schedule to ask him a few key questions.

How did the HPA Tech Retreat come to be, and how did you get involved?

Twenty years ago, I was asked by what was then called the International Teleproduction Society (ITS) to moderate an HDTV panel of broadcast networks at their Tech Retreat in Monterey, California.  I made it in before a big storm; no one else did.  So I made some gigantic paper hats––one for each network (and PBS)––and wore them one at a time as I explained network positions.  I also worked with Panasonic and Sony on some demos, and, when Sony’s techs got stuck in the storm, worked with Panasonic on getting Sony’s projector to look its best––that’s the spirit of the Tech Retreat.  The next year, I was asked to assemble the whole program, and Bruce Jacobs of Twin Cities Public Television put together an amazing demo area in which people could ask to see any source via any bit-rate-reduction system on any display (there were even more parameters).  It was like engineering improv.

When ITS died, I was asked if I’d be willing to do the Tech Retreat for HPA.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Help us set the context for those who have not experienced the HPA Tech Retreat first-hand.  What is it like?

The HPA Tech Retreat is an informal gathering for the exchange of information relating to motion-image and related technologies. It has some of the top engineering talent from around the world (presenters have come from locations ranging from Bombay to Buenos Aires and Norway to New Zealand) but also creative people, investors, and even lawyers.  If an attendee is from MPEG, that could be either the Moving Picture Experts Group or the Motion Picture Editors Guild; both have had representatives at previous retreats.  There have also been people from NATO the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and NATO the National Association of Theatre Owners.  Major manufacturers have introduced technologies at the HPA Tech Retreat before they’ve been shown anywhere else, and sometimes organizations like the BBC, the European Broadcasting Union, or the Japan Broadcasting Corporation criticize those latest developments.

Every year, new processes and new people are on stage enabling attendees to look at things differently, or understand what’s happening in the industry – creative, business, technical.  How do you determine what these presentations are? 

In two words: we don’t.  Unlike other events, we don’t determine anything in advance.  We don’t say, for example, “There should be a session on high frame rate.”  The program is determined by what gets submitted.  This year, for example, we got five submissions about a topic we haven’t discussed before; they’ll probably get a session or a panel.  We try to keep the first main-program day devoted to distribution and presentation: broadcasting, streaming, displays, theatrical sound – things of that nature.  The second day we try to keep to production and post.  The last is usually fun for geeks.

Are there any hints at trends that you see as critical?

Nope!  You have to show up!

Sometimes the HPA Tech Retreat features presentations from outside media and entertainment.  Why is that?  

We never know where new technologies will come from.  Image scanning was invented by a clock maker; submarine telegraphy led to image sensors.  We’re all here to learn and share.  We don’t discriminate.




18 2016 Nov

Sohonet Launches ClearView Flex Real-Time Remote Attendance Service

Sohonet’s ClearView Flex has solved the problem faced by mobile creatives everywhere: how to work collaboratively from any location.  Launching this November, this combination of hardware, software and connected cloud service was designed to enable creatives to stream live video sessions in real-time to multiple parties from anywhere using just a browser.

ClearView Flex allows secure streaming to anyone with an internet connection and a web browser. While Flex won’t replace the original ClearView when it comes to–say–digging into the details in a hyper precise colour-grading session, it’s a unique tool that provides an easy and convenient means for staying connected during production or post.

Directors, editors, executives, creatives, and others now can all stay in sync and provide meaningful review and approval from anywhere in the world. By means of a FlexBox connected to the edit server or other real-time video source, a specially-encoded stream is sent securely to the Sohonet Cloud, where unique sessions can be streamed to authorised users. Each stream is encrypted from the server to the client and a customised stream identifier is burned into the picture to help link that session to the users watching it.

The stream is delayed by only 2 frames from the original playback, so the viewer can request stop, start, jog, or scrub and see their picture instantly respond. Security is also top-of-mind, so each invite URL can only be used once and will expire after a few minutes if not used. The stream is end-to-end encrypted, and other features, such as second factor PIN-verification will come later this year.

18 2016 Nov

Industry Veteran Robert Stacy Joins AJA as Asia Pacific General Manager


Robert Stacey

Robert Stacey

AJA Video Systems has hired Robert Stacy as the company’s new Asia Pacific General Manager, based in Tokyo, Japan. Stacy joins the team with more than two decades of experience in the digital video technology business. “I have had many years of experience in this industry and firmly believe that AJA’s technology solutions are second to none, and look forward to expanding their reach across the Asia Pacific region,” said Stacy, “In the coming months, I look forward to building a dedicated team that is exclusively focused on promoting AJA’s video capture cards, streaming solutions, digital recorders, routers, cameras and more into the region.”

An industry veteran, Stacy joins AJA from Newtek, where he was the Vice President for the Asia Pacific region. From 2004 through 2014, Stacy was the head of Asia Media Products, LLC, where he worked as a sales and marketing partner for prominent digital video technology companies including Facilis, Telestream, Ensemble Designs, Promax Systems, Timecode Systems, and previously from 2005-2009, also with AJA. Stacy got his start in professional video working in sales and marketing roles at Avid and Media 100. He currently operates Asia Media Partners, LLC (AMP), and will build out a local staff across the region under the AMP banner.

“Robert has been a close friend of AJA for many years, and we’re happy to have him back in the family to drive sales and marketing across the APAC region,” said Nick Rashby, President, AJA Video Systems, “He’s a consummate professional, and he brings an incredible wealth of experience to our team, including a deep understanding of the professional and cultural needs of each of the respective regions he is overseeing.”

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18 2016 Nov

Herb Dow and the Non-linear Revolution

In the early 1980s, editor Herb Dow, ACE was cutting TV shows for executive producer David Gerber on the Culver City lot. “It was heaven,” says Dow. “I had a corner office with a big picture window, my assistant in another room, my car parked outside.” He moved to Universal, where he found himself in a small windowless room, working on a show that drove him to distraction. The combination pushed him to tell the head of post production he’d had enough and was quitting. “He told me they were doing a new show, ‘Still The Beaver,’ in the Oakwood Apartments on this new editing machine called VidiCut,” recalls Dow. “And he asked me if I’d be interested – and I said, sure.”

At the Oakwood Apartments, there were windows – and Adrian Ettlinger, a broadcast engineer who had pioneered non-linear editing with the CMX-600 and created instant replay. “I saw a 64K Commodore computer controlled by a light pen and six VHS decks,” recalls Dow. “The most interesting thing was something he called ‘the script,’ which gave every line of dialogue a number and let you call up every performance for that number.” That, he says, was “God’s gift,” since producers constantly wanted to see other performances. Dow was sold. Ettlinger asked to be Dow’s assistant editor, to see first-hand how an editor worked, which would allow him to improve the system.

Dow remembers asking Ettlinger for specific features, and then getting them the next day. Once, after three hours of work, the machine crashed. “Adrian had always told me to remember to save everything,” says Dow. “When I told him the machine crashed, he asked if I’d saved it, and of course I said no.” He had lost everything, a blow to an editor who had “never lost a frame of film in my life.” Dow told Ettlinger that editors are usually too caught up in their work to remember to save. To fix that, Ettlinger created auto-save.

What started as one machine became a business, Cinedco, with financing and support from Milt Forman, who was also behind Steadicam. The name of the system changed to Ediflex when there was a possibility of funding from Arriflex; instead, New World Pictures bought 50 percent of the company in 1983. Ediflex’s first real-world test came when Lorimar vice president of post Chuck Silvers asked Dow to train the respected ACE editor Fred Berger – who was editing “Dallas” – on the system. “He was 69 and had never seen a computer,” says Dow, who recounts that Berger was soon up and running with Ediflex. Soon, the Cinedco system was being used on “Knots Landing,” “Falcon Crest,” and “Dallas,” three big shows of the era.

With stupendous growth, Dow and his Ediflex colleagues found themselves in full training mode. “At one time we had 24 trainers, all of them editors or assistant editors,” says Dow. “We’d send the trainer to the editing room and he’d stay as long as needed.” The free, comprehensive training wasn’t the only plus. Dow could easily convince post production heads based on the economics. “It was $2,500 a week for our equipment,” he says. “And Lorimar said they spent $3,000 to $3,500 a week on print dailies. So I could tell them we would save them $500 to $1,000 a week.” Within two years, says Dow, the company controlled 80 percent of the market. “We buried EditDroid and Touchvision because of our service and training,” Dow says. “And, as an editor, I spoke the language.” In 1986, Cinedco won a Technical Emmy for “Design and Implementation of Electronic Editing Systems for Film Programs.”

The downfall came when Cinedco’s owners decided to use the company’s cash reserve to make an “interactive” movie, by which the cinemagoers decided the direction of the movie at several points by voting. The film was a flop – and the money was gone. “We had just built a digital Ediflex that even people from Avid and Lightworks liked, because we had the script in it now and a great controller from the guys who built the Nintendo controller,” Dow says. But the company closed its door in the early 1990s, selling the script patent to Avid.

The impact that digital nonlinear editing had on the film/TV landscape is hard to overstate. Dow notes how, with film, if the editor made a mistake and had to splice it back, everyone saw it in the screening, which could draw unwelcome attention. That put a damper on experimenting in the edit suite. And if a producer wanted to see a version from three weeks previously, it wasn’t possible unless there was a B&W dupe, which few productions could afford. “Being able to save versions, I could always put it back the way I wanted,” says Dow. “Being able to look at all the performances, and being able to try anything I wanted freed me up. As an editor, it gave me the greatest freedom I’d ever had.”

Although Dow is receiving a Lifetime Achievement award, he’s still actively involved in the latest revolution in the post production industry: post production in the cloud. In charge of global sales at BeBop, a cloud technology company, he’s focused on getting the hardware out of the edit suite, another massive game changer. “I was interested in the cloud two years ago,” says Dow. “Our motto is keep the art, lose the hardware. Post production will all be in the cloud.” Post in the cloud saves money, says Dow, and it will allow editors to work from anywhere. The company is currently doing “proof of concept” tests with several major media companies.

“Post production is my fraternity/sorority that I belong to,” says Dow. “I’m still about making it easier for editors. With Ediflex, I was able to help all those editors by making their jobs easier. And, now, by getting rid of hardware, we’re enabling them to get out of those small windowless rooms many of them are still working in. I have my Avid wherever I want my Avid to be.”

31 2016 Oct

Victoria Alonso Wows Crowd at Annual Women in Tech Luncheon

Marvel Exec Talks Opportunity, Community

It was a packed room and an enthusiastic crowd that greeted Victoria Alonso, executive vice president of physical production for Marvel Studios, who spoke at the annual Women in Technology luncheon on 24 October, presented by HPA and SMPTE®. Attendees were eager to hear Alonso’s take on women in visual effects and opportunities in entertainment technology. The conversation with Alonso was moderated by Kari Grubin, co-chair of HPA Women In Post and Vice President, Mastering at The Walt Disney Studios.

Alonso noted that a mixed playing field is the goal, saying “Our rooms should be 50/50. If any of you — men or women — can lift women up, we’ll all be better for it.” She also noted that elevating the environment is ts a shared responsibility to act, highlighting  three things that women can do, immediately, to help. “Make three calls, today.” That means, make one call on behalf of you want to help, one for someone that you might not want, and make one for yourself.  That simple act, Alonso said, will have immediate impact.

Victoria Alonso and Kari Grubin - (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

Victoria Alonso and Kari Grubin – (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

Alonso is an exuberant and consistent voice advocating for women to play key roles in the visual effects (VFX) sector of the industry. Over the course of her career, Alonso’s extensive credits include an array of VFX-driven projects, including Big Fish, Kingdom of Heaven, Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Ant-Man, to name a few. Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2., Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War are on the horizon between now and 2018. Alonso is one of the few women to ever hold a position as physical production chief at a major studio. She has been a member-at-large of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 2013.