Society's Presence Reflects Recent Successes Across Standards, Education, and Membership

NAB Show’s “The Future of Cinema Conference: The Immortal Movie,” produced in partnership with SMPTE, drew crowds of 2016 NAB Show attendees to both its conference sessions and special screenings. These events featured top industry minds and creative talents, who joined to discuss forward-looking techniques and challenges related to making content for theatrical release and beyond.

On 15 April, the day before the official conference start, show attendees flocked to screenings of high-dynamic-range (HDR) clips from acclaimed theatrical releases including Inside Out, Zootopia, Tomorrowland, and Jungle Book, which were shown in Dolby Vision HDR along with full-length versions of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice, thanks to SMPTE, the Advanced Imaging Society (AIS), and Dolby with support from The Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, and Warner Bros.

Many of the technical and creative minds behind these releases took part in the subsequent conference sessions titled “First Forays: High Dynamic Range in Animation” and “First Forays: High Dynamic Range in Live Action and Visual Effects.” Cynthia Slavens of Pixar Animation Studios moderated the first session, which included panelists Dominic Glynn of Pixar; Kim White, director of photography and lighting on “Inside Out”; Mark Dinicola, colorist on “Inside Out”; Stefan Luka, senior software engineer, color science, at Walt Disney Animation Studios; and Brian Leach, director of lighting on “Zootopia.” Moderated by SMPTE Education Vice President Pat Griffis of Dolby Laboratories, the second session featured Thad Beier of Dolby; Rick Sayre of Pixar Animation Studios; Jeroen Schulte of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM); Ben Rosenblatt of Bad Robot; Stephen Nakamura of Deluxe’s Company 3; and Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor and second unit director/cameraman.

Award-winning director Ang Lee, known for films including Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain, and Sense and Sensibility, presented the conference’s 16 April keynote address along with editor Tim Squyres and production systems supervisor and engineer Ben Gervais. The trio, speaking to a standing-room-only crowd, described their vision of cinema and the creative opportunities for the future of filmmaking. “I’m not a technical guy at all,” stated Lee. “I just have a lot of curiosity to see drama, examine humanity, storytelling … that’s my thing.”

The keynote followed the first public screenings of Lee’s upcoming release, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, in its native 120 frames/sec, 4K, 3D format. An extra session was added to accommodate the popularity of the screening. During the follow-up session titled “Deep Technical Dive Into ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,’” Lee, Gervais, and Squyres were joined by stereographer Demetri Portelli, along with Scot Barbour, vice president of production technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment, and David Cohen of Variety, in a discussion of the technical challenges of production and post-production in 120 frames/sec, 4K, stereoscopic 3D. The session demonstrated that constant collaboration between the studio and the technical and creative teams enabled the efficient use of technology to tell a story in a way that is both emotionally moving and comfortable for the viewer to watch. The official trailer for “Billy Lynn” was just recently released by Sony Pictures.

Further conference sessions delved into the creative use of HDR; the use of content captured on 35 mm film to feed into high-end digital exhibition formats; the filmmakers and projects testing the limits of cinema; and the next-generation filmmaking efforts of students and recently graduated filmmakers. Other sessions addressed questions related to next-generation distribution, HDR mastering and delivery to the home, the impact of advanced technologies — 4K, 8K, and wider color gamut — on event cinema, and the potential of light field imaging. A session focused on diversity engaged panelists and attendees in a discussion of how to build a richer, more expansive, and more dynamic filmmaking community.

The conference program committee included program chair, Richard Welsh of Sundog Media Toolkit; writer and director Abi Corbin; media technology consultant Christy King; motion picture consultant Bill Hogan; Pete Ludé of RealD; digital cinema consultant Jim Whittlesey; Chris Witham of The Walt Disney Studios; Griffis of Dolby Laboratories; and Slavens of Pixar Animation Studios.

Also at 2016 NAB Show, SMPTE featured the latest progress in its standards work, showcased current and upcoming educational opportunities, and provided support and networking opportunities to both its longtime members and its rapidly growing student membership.

At CinemaCon, immediately prior NAB Show, SMPTE announced the release of the second-generation Digital PROjection VErifier (DPROVE2) for SMPTE Digital Cinema Package (SMPTE-DCP) verification and that Eclair (Ymagis Group) has already conducted the industry’s first wide-scale testing. An encrypted DCP that emulates actual movie playback as closely as possible, DPROVE2 allows exhibitors to test their digital cinema systems’ functionality. Developed primarily to check for digital projector performance, alignment, and picture-sound synchronization in theaters, DPROVE was derived from the 2009 D-Cinema Leader (SMPTE RP 428-6). Though it no longer supports Interop DCP, the new DPROVE2 builds on DPROVE by supporting SMPTE-DCP with enhanced capabilities, accessibility features, and picture-sound synchronization. DPROVE2 is now being distributed to cinema chains and exhibition groups, for more information visit www.smpte.org/DPROVE .

Adaptive Sample Picture Encapsulation (ASPEN), which was submitted to SMPTE as a Registered Disclosure Document (RDD 37), and the Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS) were also hot topics of conversation at the 2016 NAB Show. AIMS builds on existing SMPTE standards such as ST 2022-6 and the ST 2059 family. A new working group is developing standards based on recommendations TR-03 and TR-04 from the Video Services Forum (VSF), and a press conference was held by AIMS during the NAB Show. SMPTE took advantage of the NAB Show to discuss opportunities to facilitate interoperability between AIMS and ASPEN.

Another SMPTE milestone that drew attention at the 2016 NAB Show was the successful adoption and execution of the SMPTE Archive eXchange Format (AXF) standard (SMPTE ST 2034-1:2014). The standard was published in 2014 and earlier this year was implemented to support the transparent and independent exchange of complex file-based assets and metadata between storage management applications from different vendors. 

During awards ceremonies at the 2016 NAB Show, SMPTE Members were honored for their contributions to the motion-imaging field. Broadcasting & Cable magazine paid tribute to technology leaders who have displayed innovation, imagination, and achievement. This year’s honorees included SMPTE Members Joe Addalia, Hearst Television; Gregory Coppa, CBS; Glenn Oakley, Discovery Communications; and Renu Thomas, Disney|ABC Television Group. SMPTE Member Michelle Munson of Aspera was also honored with the Women in Technology Leadership Award from TVNewsCheck magazine.

The Society’s members also took center stage during a variety of SMPTE student events, leading students on tours of the various exhibition halls and gathering with students from around the world for a social mixer at the SMPTE booth. The event gave students the opportunity to interact with SMPTE members and leadership, who discussed their jobs in audio, digital cinema, cameras, broadcasting, post-production, and manufacturing. Through a challenge grant established in 2012 by SMPTE Membership Vice President William C. Miller, student membership is on the rise and now represents almost 15% of the Society’s nearly 7,000 members.

Buzz at the SMPTE booth also included talk about upcoming events, including the Entertainment Technology in the Connected Age: The Race Is On! (ETCA 2016), scheduled for 27-28 June in at the Heritage Theatre in Campbell, California, and the recently announced HPA Tech Retreat UK, a new event being presented by HPA, in coordination with SMPTE, on 13-14 July at Heythrop Park Resort in Oxfordshire, UK.

ETCA 2016 will explore the impact of emerging technologies on the delivery of a compelling connected entertainment experience. Keynote addresses will focus on integrating the evolution of technical, creative, and business innovations to pave the way toward provision of ever-better entertainment experiences. A rich slate of conference sessions will examine the impact of connectivity, bandwidth, and technology advances in content creation and delivery, whether the consumer is at home, at the cinema, or even in the car.

HPA Tech Retreat UK addresses emerging trends and challenges facing professionals engaged in the many disciplines surrounding the creation, management, and dissemination of content across the dynamic landscape of distribution environments. The event, making its UK debut, will focus on the most compelling technologies and user stories in broadcast and cinema. A SuperSession will be led by industry leaders at work in ultra-high-definition (UHD), high-dynamic-range imaging (HDR), virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other critical technologies. Another special session will give attendees an exclusive opportunity to get behind the scenes on the making of HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Although the SMPTE 2016 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition doesn’t take place until Oct. 24-28, the Society took advantage of the 2016 NAB Show to let industry members know that the conference’s call for papers deadline is now extended to 23 May. At the SMPTE booth, attendees also heard about the SMPTE Centennial Gala, which will take place on Oct. 28 during SMPTE 2016, and about the Precision Time Protocol (PTP) interoperability demos — using SMPTE ST 2059 — that will be presented during the conference by vendors that qualify at the upcoming ST 2059/AES67 Interop Event, 13-17 June.

A complete 2016 NAB Show recap, including details on the NAB Show’s “The Future of Cinema Conference,” produced in partnership with SMPTE, will appear in the May/June issue of the SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal, available in the SMPTE digital library.

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In The News

Broadcast Film & Video: 2016 NAB Show’s ‘The Future of Cinema Conference: The Immortal Movie’ Wows with Ang Lee Keynote and 120 FPS/4K/3D Screening (page 48)
by Aimée Ricca | May 2016

Screen Daily: Shot in the arm for HFR (page 63)
by Adrian Pennington | 13 May 2016

Inverse: 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' Trailer Shows Off It's Insane 120 fps Frame Rate
Sean Hutchinson | 12 May 2016

CinemaBlend: The Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Trailer Is Way Better Than Its Title
by Dirk Libby | 12 May 2016

Variety: Ang Lee’s ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Explores Horrors of War in First Trailer
by Maane Khatchatourian | 12 May 2016

M&E Tech: SMPTE and NAB show off HDR
2 May 2016

TV Technology: NAB 2016 in 21 Quotes From 21 Folks
by Deborah McAdams | 27 April 2016

Blog Critics: NAB Show 2016: Ang Lee on Pushing the Limits of Cinema
by Leo Sopicki | 26 April 2016

Variety: Hollywood Hiring Programs Aren’t Enough to Solve Diversity Problem, Says SMPTE Panel
by David S. Cohen | 17 April 2016

AV Network: NAB Future of Cinema Conference: HDR and the New Magic of Movies
by David Keene | 17 April 2016

Variety: Ang Lee’s ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ First Footage Stuns Viewers at NAB Show
by David S. Cohen | 16 April 2016

The Hollywood Reporter: NAB: First Reactions to Ang Lee's 'Billy Lynn' 120 Frame Rate Footage: 'Awesome,' 'Unbelievable'
by Carolyn Giardina |16 April 2016

Variety: Ang Lee Reveals Secrets of ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ (EXCLUSIVE)
by David S. Cohen | 15 April 2016

Screen Daily: Ang Lee's war drama 'Billy Lynn' faces projection challenge
by Adrian Pennington | 14 April 2016

Digital Cinema Report: Ang Lee to Speak on Cinema’s Future
by Nick Dager | 15 March 2016

Advanced Television: Hollywood tests UHD/HDR at 120fps
by Chris Forrester | 14 March 2016

CinemaBlend: How Ang Lee Is Trying To Change The Way Films Are Shown
by Dirk Libbey | 7 March 2016

TV Technology: Ang Lee to Present at NAB’s ‘Future of Cinema’ Conference
by Michael Balderston | 7 March 2016

The Hollywood Reporter: Ang Lee to Unveil 'Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk' Footage in 3D, 4K and at 120 Frames Per Second
by Carolyn Giardina | 7 March 2016

Colider: Ang Lee to Unveil ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ in 120 Frames-Per-Second 4K 3D
by Adam Chitwood | 7 March 2016

Entertainment Weekly: Ang Lee to screen Billy Lynn at 120 frames per second
by Christian Holub | 7 March 2016

Broadcast Film & Video: SMPTE Gets Fresh at the 2016 NAB Show
by Richard Welsh | 21 January 2016

TV Newscheck: SMPTE To Produce Next-Gen Filmmaking Conference At NAB Show
by Phil Kurz | 29 December 2015