Broadcasters and producers, program creators and filmmakers, station personnel, and post-production house staff worldwide convened once again at a warm and sunny desert location with palm tree-lined thoroughfares. NAB? Las Vegas? No, actually it was the annual Technology Retreat hosted by the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA). This year's three-day gathering, actually four when you include the very presentation-full preday, was held in February at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA. This was the sixteenth year for the tech retreat, and like a fine wine, it just keeps improving with age.
HPA applies an interesting organizational approach to its three days of total technology immersion. The day starts early with breakfast roundtables, where you can join in a lively discussion on the particular topic of your choice. Approximately 20 topics or more are offered each morning, and this year included many wide-ranging discussions, such as stereoscopic full HD 3-D to the home, file-based workflow, mobile TV and archiving in a post-videotape world, to name just a few.
Each day's roundtable breakfast was followed by presentations and panels. These presentations were mainly technology-oriented, but sprinkled in were interesting nontechnical sessions that included reports on the CES Show and consumer electronics trends, as well as FCC and legislative updates.
The presentations and panels offered something for everyone. Topics covered of specific interest to broadcasters included mobile TV and audio loudness issues. There was even a broadcaster panel session. For the film-oriented, there was everything from the latest 3-D shooting techniques to restoration of nitrate-based film classics, such as the 1928 debut of Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willy.” The post-production community enjoyed technology updates on a number of subjects, including file-based workflows and collaborative networking techniques.
During session breaks and evenings, more than 50 technology demonstrations were conducted by almost as many companies. The most appealing thing about these exhibits is the HPA proscription against the space being used trade-show style for blatant selling activity. Participating companies were required to maintain the spirit of this being a technology retreat by truly limiting their presentation space to the demonstration of new technologies and techniques.
Attendance this year was up 10 percent over last year. In addition to the production, post and film communities, this year's attendees included satellite and cable programmers, as well as representatives from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS. Attendees were from Europe, Asia and the United States and also included representatives from major industry standards bodies such as SMPTE, NAB and EBU.
The Hollywood Post Alliance Technology Retreat is becoming the go-to event. Next year's event is scheduled for Feb. 15-18 and will be once again held at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort. Mark your calendar. It's already on mine.
Anthony R. Gargano is a consultant and former industry executive.
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