Review: SMPTE 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition

Including symposium on AI and ML

SMPTE announced that the SMPTE 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2017), held in Hollywood, California, drew more than 2,500 registered attendees for a landmark event. SMPTE 2017 featured 70 expert presentations, 105 exhibitors spread across two exhibit halls, the IP Showcase, a beer garden, Broadcast Beat's Live! Studio, and a full-day symposium on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Quelle: SMPTE

"Attendance for SMPTE 2017 was our highest in more than a decade, with guests from around the world joining us for the final installment of the conference here at the Hollywood & Highland Center and Loews Hollywood Hotel," said SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange. "In fact, attendance broke the record set last year for the Society's centenary celebration. The continued growth of our annual conference and exhibition is a strong signal of SMPTE's vital role in enabling the future of entertainment technology."

The day prior to the official start of SMPTE 2017 featured the SMPTE 2017 Symposium, "Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in Digital Media Creation: The Promise, The Reality, and The (Scary?) Future." The daylong symposium was co-chaired by SMPTE Fellow Michelle Munson, co-founder of Aspera, and Yvonne Thomas, product manager at Arvato Systems. Subject matter experts, visionaries, and thought leaders in the field helped attendees to establish a firm foundation for understanding these technologies and their potential to disrupt the media and entertainment industry. Jeff Kember, technical director for media in the office of the CTO at Google, delivered the keynote address, discussing the latest opportunities and advances in ML, and how AI and ML are shaping the media and entertainment industry.  

The Women in Technology Luncheon, presented jointly by the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA) Women in Post Committee and SMPTE, drew a record number of attendees, who were treated to a conversation with Madeline Di Nonno, executive director of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Joined by Kari Grubin, vice president of mastering for the Walt Disney Company, Di Nonno shared the latest findings from the institute's new ML media metrics tool, the Geena Davis Inclusion Quotient (GD-IQ), and analysis of the top family films of 2017.

The third annual SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival took place at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. SMPTE and the HPA received 119 submissions from more than 30 countries, and the 17 official selections chosen by the jury represented Germany, Hong Kong, the U.K., and the U.S. Eight films were revealed as winners at the conclusion of the evening, and student filmmakers received prizes courtesy of Avid, Blackmagic Design, One World Computing, and Sundog Media Toolkit.

The renowned cinematographer and immersive media innovator, Andrew Shulkind presented the SMPTE 2017 technical conference opening keynote address. Shulkind provided attendees with perspective on the current media disruption, which promises exponential growth in everything from field of view to storage requirements and from compression demands to distribution networks. The takeaway was a more definite sense of what immersive content is and how the industry can gain from shaping its successful implementation. You can view the keynote here.

During the SMPTE Annual General Membership Meeting, Lange discussed the Society's mission, current work, and vision for its next century. Lange highlighted the pending publication of SMPTE ST 2110 suite of standards for Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks and previewed the Society's upcoming book, "Magic and Miracles." Rich in images and content, the book tells the story of SMPTE and its contributions to motion pictures, television, and digital video — from the advent of "talkies" in the '20s to the networked media infrastructures of today.

Lange also announced that the SMPTE 2018 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition (SMPTE 2018) will take place Oct. 22-25, 2018, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites in downtown Los Angeles. The 2018 installment of the annual technical conference will be chaired by SMPTE Fellows Thomas Edwards, vice president engineering and development at Fox; and SMPTE Education Director Sara J. Kudrle, product marketing manager for playout at Imagine Communications. The meeting was followed by the second annual Oktoberfest Reception in the event's Centennial exhibition hall.

Technical conference sessions delved into the industry's most innovative, intriguing, and significant technological advances. The papers addressed essential topics including advances in display technologies; cinema processing and projection technology; wider color and dynamic range; compression; content management and storage, restoration, and preservation; content security; virtual, augmented, and mixed reality (VR, AR, and MR); media infrastructure (SMPTE ST 2110) and distribution; image acquisition and processing; new techniques in audio; quality assurance and monitoring; workflow systems management; cloud technologies; and encouraging diversity in technology.

Three SMPTE Fellows co-chaired the SMPTE 2017 technical conference program committee: Paul Chapman, senior vice president of technology at Fotokem; Thomas Edwards; and Sara Kudrle. SMPTE 2017 will officially wrap this evening with the Annual Awards Gala, hosted by top Hollywood entertainment anchor Sam Rubin. Along with leadership from SMPTE and the HPA, Rubin will guide guests through the awards ceremony, recognizing the evening's honorees, while moving through Hollywood history from the 1950s to the present time. Guests are encouraged to dress in black-tie attire with a nod to Hollywood glamour through the decades.

During the celebration, SMPTE officially bestowed the Society's highest honor, Honorary Membership, posthumously on Renville "Ren" H. McMann Jr. (1927 – 2015) by inducting him into the SMPTE Honor Roll. McMann's many innovations include the CBS Minicam Mark VI, the first handheld color TV camera, and the magnetic scan conversion techniques used by NASA to bring color TV images from the moon to viewers around the world.

At the Annual Awards Gala, SMPTE presented the Society's most prestigious award, the Progress Medal, to Paul E. Debevec. Debevec is being recognized for his achievements, and ongoing work in techniques for illuminating computer graphics (CG) objects based on measurement of real-world illumination and their application in films such as "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "District 9," and "Avatar." The Annual Awards Gala recognizes more than 20 additional honorees and a dozen Society members who have been elevated to SMPTE Fellow status.

www.smpte2017.org