held its annual technology retreat February 22-24 in Rancho Mirage, California. More than 400 attendees and 51 exhibitors (record numbers for the event) gathered to discuss – and sometimes debate – the most critical technology and business issues facing the professional post production community today.
According to Mark Schubin, Technological Consultant to the HPA, the hottest topic of the week was unquestionably content protection and rights management. A presentation by Brad Hunt, VP and Chief Technology Officer of the MPAA, generated a spirited Q&A session that was extended several times to accommodate the discussion. A primary issue was the question of whether or not restricting analog outputs to 960×540 is effective in preventing digital piracy. Demonstrative comparisons and informed debates fueled the discussion throughout the week.
Even while Hollywood is just beginning to look at 4K, HPA Retreat attendees got a look at the not-so-distant future, with the first U.S. preview of an ultra-high resolution camera from Japan –, the Olympus “Quad HD” Octavision camera offering 3840×2160 resolution — and a session on NHK’s “Super HiVision” 8K by 4K (7680×4320) camera.
Displays were also a topic of focus, with demonstrations, discussions, a half day seminar and a full morning super-session devoted to the question: “If we’re verging on the demise of picture tubes, both in consumer and post production facility displays, can we make a liquid crystal, plasma, or DLP screen look as good?”
Other highlights included a presentation on handling multiple aspect ratios by Graham Jones of the National Association of Broadcasters that showed the industry just how far it had come, and a demonstration of audio/video sync (or lack thereof) across CRT, LCD, and DLP displays by Bill Hogan of Clarity Image that showed just how far it still has to go. And Universal Pictures’ Jerry Pierce may have made a case for content still being king, when he showed a commercial spoof from Saturday Night Live downloaded from iTunes and projected on high resolution screens that got the entire audience laughing – despite the image being just a quarter of the resolution of standard definition television.
Summing up the importance of the HPA Tech Retreat, Leon Silverman, President of the Board of Directors of HPA and President of Laser Pacific, said, “One of the most compelling aspects of the Retreat is the fact that both the program itself and the attendees represent the significant diversity of technical industry knowledge. This means that no one topic or part of the industry dominates. It allows those who attend to get updated on such a wide range of topics that our attendees come away with what seems like a graduate degree in current industry technology in a three-day full immersion course. From the breakfast roundtables to the conference and networking opportunities – including the softball game, the Retreat brings together the brain power of our industry and then covers a dizzying array of information presented in compelling, but digestible chunks. Many of our attendees comment every year that if they had only one technology event to attend, it would be the Hollywood Post Alliance Technology Retreat.”