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2023 HPA Tech Retreat Recap

March 6, 2023

The Hollywood Professional Association’s (HPA) annual tech retreat is one of the most anticipated events in the media engineering world. Tons of industry leaders, scientists, creatives, and organizations gathered at this event to discuss innovative new technologies, standards, and practices. Everyone who attends does so in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Even though HPA and SMPTE are now two separate organizations, this collaborative spirit was felt throughout the entire retreat, making it possible to achieve great things.

HPA invited SMPTE, not only to experience the event, but to actively participate in it. Prominent SMPTE members and leaders like President Renard Jenkins, Former President Hans Hoffman, Executive Director David Grindle, Director of Standards Development Thomas Bause Mason, and Director of Business Development and Outreach Dr. Michele Wright, lead discussions, roundtables, and cultivated professional relationships that were both beneficial and inspirational.

“Attending the Women in Post luncheon was particularly inspirational,” said Dr. Wright. “As was presenting the SMPTE for a Change campaign with Renard, David, and Hans.” In fact, many people enjoyed the SMPTE for a Change presentation, which detailed how new leadership in the organization was working toward innovations in technology as well as a concerted effort to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. Other participants at the retreat found it refreshing that an organization was actually making these changes, rather than just making empty promises.

In the same spirit of collaboration and inclusion, Renard Jenkins, who is also a current SVP at Warner Bros. Discovery, lead a discussion called The Future Role of Institutional Organizations – Maintaining Relevance For Your Members. The discussion focused on how institutional organizations can attract and retain new talent. Industry powerhouses like fellow SMPTE leader David Grindle, Eric Trabb of NAB, Jason Dachman of the Sports Video Group, and Joyce JC Cataldo of HPA discussed how to keep the industry strong, diverse, and engaged.

SMPTE also engaged in several roundtables involving our Rapid Industry Solutions (RIS) campaign. One involved camera & lens metadata, and was led by Jim Helman, the CTO of MovieLabs. The other, led by Kari Gruben of HPA, involved on-set virtual production. Both roundtables brought SMPTE innovation and standards to the forefront of the conference, and reminded other industry leaders that we are still a major player in film and television engineering.

Of course, SMPTE wasn’t the only organization making waves at the conference. One day of the retreat was solely dedicated to the making of Avatar: The Way of Water. “We were impressed at how hard the production worked to create an experience anyone could enjoy,” said David Grindle. “They went out of their way to make a film that looks good regardless of whether you watch it in 3D, 2D, on a TV, or even on a phone.”

Making film accessible was a major theme of the retreat. Companies like MovieLabs, NAB, Mobile TV Group and more all had visions for a brighter future. SMPTE has a vision too, sharing it with everyone at the event whether they knew it or not. SMPTE standards touch every aspect of the film industry, and now more people know who we are, what we do, and what we can bring to the table in order to change the game.

SMPTE would like to thank HPA for inviting us to participate in this year’s event. We look forward to working closely with HPA again. Though our organizations have separate goals and methodologies, we recognize that we both seek a better, more inclusive industry. HPA, and every other organization at the retreat, is doing great things. SMPTE looks forward to next year’s retreat and working with these leaders to bring a positive change to the industry.

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