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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.

 

31 2016 Oct

IHSE and AVID Collaboration

IHSE’s keyboard/video/mouse switching products are a critical part of media operations around the world. IHSE teams up with some of the most highly respected equipment and service providers in the business to make their products and installations even better for their customers, and Avid is one such partner.

press_AVID_protools_dracoteraThe most recent collaboration between Avid and IHSE combines the latest KVM network capabilities with the Avid Pro Tools | S6 modular audio-mixing control surface to better integrate switching between multiple digital audio workstations. For sound engineers who rely on the Pro Tools | S6, instant access is critical to insure you never lose your attention span. Integrated KVM create a seamless approach to workflow management.

 

 

 

31 2016 Oct

SMPTE HPA Student Film Festival announces winners

On the evening of Wednesday, 26 October, at the historic Egyptian Theater, the SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival unspooled an impressive array of student made shorts that included animation, virtual reality, and live action entries.  Jurors curated the selected shorts from a record number of more than 250 submissions from more than 46 countries.

SMPTE-HPA Student Film Fest

Seth Hallen, HPA President noted, “The wealth of entries for this year’s festival was inspiring.  The work was outstanding and imaginative, and it is wonderful to see entries from students from a wide array of global educational institutions. Our jurors faced quite a difficult challenge choosing winners from the high caliber of submissions we received. As the festival screenings demonstrated, it was an excellent and competitive field, and one that included the first high school student to win a category! Looking at these entries, winners, and nominees, I am eager to continue enjoying the great works these budding young artists have in store for us as their careers unfold.”

The complete list of winners can be found here: https://www.smpte.org/news-events/news-releases/winners-second-annual-smpte-hpa-student-film-festival-announced

31 2016 Oct

HPA Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) Make Auspicious Debut

On October 26, the inaugural class of Young Entertainment Professionals was introduced to the HPA community through a series of presentations, mentorship events, and exhibition tours at the annual SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition.

The daylong event began with introductions from the YEP Committee members, HPA President Seth Hallen, SMPTE-HPA Executive Director Barbara Lange and SMPTE President Robert Seidel. Post-production guru Garrett Smith presented a history of cinema. Over lunch, YEP participants split into roundtables led by industry mentors from studios, major vendors and manufacturers. The afternoon included guided tours of the exhibition area by industry insiders, a stop at the SMPTE Oktoberfest party, and the SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival.

HPA YEP 2016 inaugural class

The first class of YEP includes 29 young men and women between the ages of 21 and 29, hailing from the US and beyond. They hold responsible creative and technical posts at studios, facilities, tech companies and in some cases accomplished individuals from outside of the industry.

HPA president Seth Hallen noted, “The formation of the YEP program and spending time with these amazing young people is inspiring. It became clear in our day together that mentoring is a two-way street, and they bring as many insights for us as we bring to them. As our industry continues to change and its complexities deepen, this group is proof that the future is in great hands.”

 

 

31 2016 Oct

Here’s to Award Season!

Jenni McCormick, Executive Director American Cinema Editors, Board Member HPA

JenniMcCormick

Jenni McCormick

Tis the season! Not for turkey and stuffing, as you may be thinking. No, it’s that exhilarating time of year commonly referred to as “Award Season.”  Some folks dust off their fancy dress shoes, while others pull their clipboards out of mothballs, and prepare for the wild ride of submissions, judging and voting! Such is the exhilarating rush that goes along with menu planning, seating charts and presenter corralling.

Sure, the general public is used to seeing actors and musicians onstage, clutching a shiny thing and thanking their collaborators, parents, agents and preschool teachers. For all the attention spread around at those kind of events, more and more folks are beginning to take notice of the lesser known ceremonies; the ones that do their best to honor each of the important aspects of filmmaking, technology and entertainment, and the people behind all the flash. In fact, these people may have invented “flash.”

Film and Sound Editing, Visual Effects and Color Grading don’t get mentioned every day, but we see the magnificent work every time we are entertained by motion pictures, or interact with entertainment content in any of countless formats and platforms. And for those of us who spend October thru OscarMonth (my pet name for February) attending a gaggle of award ceremonies honoring each and every aspect of filmmaking, one of the most enjoyable ways to kick off the season is none other than the HPA Awards, now in its 11th year. Produced by the Hollywood Professional Association, this event brings the artists who usually work alone in dark rooms into the well-deserved spotlight. The HPA Awards honor innovators in technology and engineering and those who have spent their careers in collaboration with other artists, making the mere dream of a story into a reality.

In talking to attendees of the many “craft” ceremonies which honor brilliance behind the scenes, there is a feeling of gratitude toward the HPA Awards. Post-production is an intricate beast, difficult to define and often misunderstood, and the HPA Awards shine a light on those who often go unrecognized for their contributions. Those supremely talented individuals behind the scenes, helping to tell stories, working tirelessly on projects which bring so much joy to fans around the world. And it’s all done with huge collaborative effort, as only our creative industry can bring.

Last year’s HPA Lifetime Achievement Honoree, Leon Silverman, beautifully put into words what makes this part of the industry special when he said, “What has made my career and what makes this industry so great is the willingness, in fact the compulsion, of the people in the production and post-production industry to help and teach each other.  For we have been and continue to be responsible in our generation for ushering in a new era in our industry, one in which creativity is influenced and inspired by technology.”

I’m looking forward to spending November 17 enthusiastically applauding colleagues and friends    as they are recognized for their incredible achievements in editing, color grading, video effects, sound, and related endeavors at   the beginning of the run for OSCARMonth. It will be a welcome opportunity to toast the hard work and the joy of creating stories that move audiences around the world, whether from a seat in theaters, in front of a television set, or anyplace else there’s a screen.I hope to see you there.

31 2016 Oct

Insights from Michelle Munson, Winner of The HPA 2016 Charles S. Swartz Award

By Debra Kaufman

Michelle Munson

Michelle Munson

On November 17, at the HPA Awards, Michelle Munson, co-inventor and CEO of Aspera, will receive the Charles S. Swartz Award, for significant impact across diverse aspects of the industry. Also that evening, the company’s Aspera FASP Stream will receive a 2016 Engineering Excellence Award for its “turnkey application software enabling live streaming of broadcast-quality video globally over commodity Internet networks.”

Munson, who holds dual B.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Physics, was a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University where she received a postgraduate diploma in computer science. She is also the youngest recipient named a KSU College of Engineering Alumni Fellow, which she was granted in 2006, and has received national recognition and numerous achievement awards for her work.

HPA NewsLine spoke with Munson about her career, her thoughts on the media and entertainment industry, and what she sees for the future. She credits her mentors, both technology entrepreneurs and academics, who nurtured her career in the early days as she joined several startups and worked at the IBM Almaden Research Center. Munson says that several factors came together that precipitated the founding of Aspera in 2004. “The Internet becoming a mature infrastructure that businesses had access to and was available globally,” she says. “There was also an emerging interest in content, not just data, over the Internet.”

On the technology front, she adds, there had been attempts at multicasting for scalable distribution with a network routing layer and “point solutions,” or WAN gateways to improve performance at a hardware level. “There seemed to be an opening for an application layer approach to data movement or transport,” she says. “There was a need for a new layer in the logical stack that would sit on top of the network infrastructure and provide those abilities.” In her earlier work at startups, Munson had also spent a lot of time with customers, where she became closely acquainted with emerging problems in the media and entertainment industry. “They had an interest and need to conveniently move data,” she says. That sparked her own intellectual curiosity to move forward and, with co-founder/vice president of engineering Serban Simu, she started Aspera.

Munson has her own perspective on where the industry is going. “Here we are, over a decade later, and a couple of big trends have emerged from the Internet maturing,” she says. “The first is the interoperability of live data with what we think of as store-forward or file-based transport. The appetite for pumping live video anywhere and everywhere is driving the need for a highly predictable experience and, at Aspera, we’re deeply involved with that, as evidenced by Aspera FASP Stream.” She’s also excited about “the development of new architectures for data distribution.” “When I was starting my career, content delivery networks were in their infancies,” she says. “The cloud has consolidated bandwidth and compute resources. Without that, you’d have to have data centers and hardware and your own bandwidth.”

Coming up in the industry when she did – she was the only female physics student and one of two in engineering in her undergraduate studies has given her a unique perspective. “I do feel like the doors are open now in so many ways,” she says. “There’s an appetite to cultivate female talent – and other under-represented folks as well. The effort is huge and sincere.” She notes that some of the skew towards men in sciences such as physics seems to be cultural. “Thanks to Serban, I’m knowledgeable about Eastern Europe where many of the computer scientists and engineers are women,” she says. “ I think it’s changing here. I see more and more women in computer science – and we hire them.”

For her, one of the “great misnomers” about this field of technology is that it “isn’t sufficiently exciting, impactful or glamorous.” “And it’s all those things,” she says. “I think that’s not well understood and people branch off [into other fields] before they see those benefits. I think it’s improving but culturally there’s a lot of work to do.”

With regard to the Charles S. Swartz Award, Munson declares herself “grateful and humble.” “It’s a stunning award,” she says. “I’m hugely grateful and very surprised.” She credits the media and entertainment industry for its embrace of new technology. “HPA and SMPTE have had a massive impact on what we’ve chosen to do at Aspera,” she says. “Without those organizations, we wouldn’t be who we are. I don’t know any other industry that has that appetite for technology and innovation. Because it’s creatively based, the industry will try new things all the time – and that’s how you get new technology off the ground.”