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    The Next Big Thing Is Here

    August 16, 2021

    I don’t know about you, but I feel that the past year was very much a lost year. Of course, there was plenty to do with navigating the pandemic and keeping our members informed and engaged through our many virtual educational offerings. It seems that we went into the dark, figuratively, and are now emerging into a new world. Before the pandemic, we were creating content using “traditional” methods. Yes, videoover-IP delivery picked up speed on the back of SMPTE ST 2110 and related standards. Yes, pictures were being enhanced by HDR technologies and such. But even with the explosion of streaming services, we could still see the distinction between motion pictures, television, and streaming content.

    The pandemic created huge chaos and upheaval. If we talk about disruption, COVID-19 was the biggest disruptor of the last 100 years, affecting every sector of the global economy and virtually every single industry. But chaos can lead to creativity and innovation. Innovators find their best opportunities during times of crisis, creating new solutions to popping up problems or blazing new trails.

    This meant fundamentally altering the way SMPTE delivered its programs and services. It meant transitioning to a standards platform that puts everything at the developers’ fingertips. It meant pivoting to produce the annual technical conference and awards gala in a time-zone-friendly digital format for members worldwide. It also meant making some difficult decisions, such as reducing the print versions of our journal. We continue to publish ten issues per year, but due to budget constraints, we opted to print only three of those issues in 2021.

    For the media technology sector, the chaos of 2020 brought considerable advancements in virtual production. It is amazing to me to see how many productions are happening today using virtual technology. Between hardware, software, and services, the virtual production ecosystem is predicted to grow by 14% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to a value of over $3 billion by 2026 (Source: “Global Virtual Production Market Report, 2020 to 2026” by Research and Markets, February 2021).

    That level of innovation would be hard to see in the absence of the pandemic. The pandemic accelerated the push to virtual production to keep content flowing to all of us stuck at home binge-watching Netflix.

    Virtual production is a fantastic example of innovation. It sounds pretty simple, but the technology required to bring that desert scene into a volumetric sound stage is quite impressive. The coordination required to ensure that all aspects of the workflow are in sync and working flawlessly is astounding. Virtual production has upended how content is produced, but, at the same time, it has also expanded the creativity in storytelling. If you can bring that desert scene into the sound stage, you can imagine an immersive experience where a viewer can be dropped into the scene. We know that the gaming industry has long been immersed in virtual production. Today, studios are using these same tools to create content like never before. The convergence in motion pictures, television, and streaming now includes gaming.

    SMPTE has an important role to play in virtual production. We see ourselves as supporting the industry to curate education, technical tools, and services to serve the needs of the industry. We are using this moment to initiate a new program, rapid industry solutions (RIS), to convene industry and academia to solve problems and support ongoing technological advancements. RIS is intended to deliver results rapidly and free of cost to the industry. We hope it becomes a beacon for new projects and participants to solve common problems in an open-source format.

    SMPTE successfully survived the lost year of the pandemic. We see the opportunity for innovation in virtual production and look forward to supporting it well into the future

    Tag(s): Featured , News

    Barbara Lange

    Barbara Lange joined SMPTE as Executive Director in January 2010.   Founded in 1916, SMPTE is the global professional association that supports the technical framework and professional community which makes quality motion imaging available to consumers in a variety of media formats.  Ms. Lange’s portfolio includes executing on the SMPTE Board of Governors’ strategic vision and to ensure the Society’s continued relevance in an ever-evolving media ecosystem.  Under Ms. Lange’s leadership, membership has grown by more than 30% globally, more than 200 leading-edge industry standards have been published -- including industry game-changers such as Interoperable Master Format (IMF), High Dynamic Range (HDR), and Video Over IP -- and the Society has educated thousands of professionals on critical technical topics.  Today, Ms. Lange’s focus is implementing a 3-year strategic business plan that will further SMPTE’s visibility and relevance with an emphasis on attracting a younger and more diverse membership demographic.  In 2015, Ms. Lange led the acquisition of the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA), a leading trade association focused on the application of technology in the creation, distribution and consumption of professional media content; she now also serves as HPA Executive Director.  Ms. Lange holds a BA in Chemistry and German from Washington and Jefferson College, and completed the Executive Development Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  Prior to joining SMPTE she held executive roles in scholarly publishing at highly respected organizations including Springer-Verlag and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Ms. Lange has been recognized by IEEE, Washington & Jefferson College, and honored with TVNewscheck’s 2020 Women in Technology Award for her role in “making a difference in the media industry”.

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