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Siegfried Foessel: Leading Media Technology Innovation

May 19, 2023

 

              Every so often, an innovator comes a long and changes the entire industry for the better. Siegfried Foessel, is one such innovator. In the world of imaging and video processing for broadcast and media production, Foessel is a leader with over 80 publications and patents across ten patent families. His range of work has seen a global impact, and he’s still working for a better future to this day.

              Siegfried completed his studies in electrical engineering at the Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen, Germany in 1989. Since then, he has been employed at the Fraunhofer Institute IIS in Erlangen, worked on his doctorate, and held several team leadership positions. While working on his doctorate, he met one of the great influences of his career, Professor Dieter Seitzer. “On the one hand, he was very demanding, but on the other hand, he always made you feel like you are one of the best people who can achieve anything.” Says Foessel.

              Every leader had to learn from someone, and the best leaders have multiple teachers. While Prof. Seitzer was Foessel's mentor during his time in school, Franz Kraus, the former CEO of ARRI, was his mentor in the work force. While at ARRI, Foessel led the team that developed the first digital cinema camera for the company, one of the many goals Kraus had while he was still in charge. “[Kraus] always wanted to uncompromisingly develop the highest quality movie cameras for his customers.” Says Foessel

              That camera development was one of Foessel's proudest achievements, but it’s far from his only one. He chaired the Digital Cinema Adhoc group at JPEG and was a standard editor at a time when digital cinema and broadcast profiles for DCP and IMF were being standardized. He worked with Hollywood studios on the Digital Cinema certification test plan. His team brought digital cinema production tools, such as easyDCP, successfully into the market and recently he participated in the development of JPEG XS for video over IP. EasyDCP even earned him a Joseph-von-Fraunhofer award, the highest award given at Fraunhofer. He even served as President of FTKG, a German equivalent of SMPTE, for eight years.

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            Foessel began working with SMPTE in 2002, after making a career shift to media technology. “To me, SMPTE has always been the most influential standardization group and community in the media technology world.” Says Foessel. “The most important topic for me is being part of an open community, making friends and having someone to talk to about media technology.”

              His time at SMPTE has been marked with success, publishing twelve journal and conference papers, as well as serving on tech committees and on the board of the European region. This impressive resume continues to grow as he works towards new goals for himself and the future. “First, I’d like to continue developing new and exciting technologies.” Says Foessel. “Second, I’d like to bring creative and technology people closer together, so that they work jointly on good movies. With the start of our new long-term project CreatiF at the HFF, funded by the federal ministry of education and research, we have a good base for such a cooperation.”

              Foessel is currently a member and chair of various national and international standardization bodies. He is a SMPTE fellow and IEEE senior member, as well as the head of the Moving Picture Technologies department at Fraunhofer IIS and, at the same time, a professor for the Technology study program at the HFF University of Television and Film in Munich. In addition, he is spokesman of the Fraunhofer wide business area Digital Media.

              He and his wife enjoy French food and wine and hope to soon have a vacation home in the south of France. We hope he gets his house soon, as he clearly deserves it for his many accomplishments in the field. SMPTE is proud to be working with this innovative man. Siegfried Foessel is a brilliant engineer, and his work will benefit the film industry for years to come.

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