Larry Thorpe to receive NAB Engineering award

Larry Thorpe, vice president, Acquisition Systems for Sony Electronics, has been named the winner of the NAB 2000 Television Engineering Achievement Award. Mr. Thorpe has been a key player in the industry's new technology development and actively involved in television engineering for more than 30 years.

Well known in the broadcast and production industries, Mr. Thorpe is a renowned industry expert in the field of video acquisition, and is generally considered to be a leader of the HDTV movement. A frequent presenter and expert at industry conferences and events, his list of accomplishments includes pioneering HDTV market development in the United States, and he holds 10 patents for broadcast technology.

“I just see an unstoppable inevitability that HDTV will be a part of a mix of services of the future and broadcasters will be there four square.”

I recently had the opportunity to interview Larry Thorpe to learn more about his views on key industry issues. When asked what his greatest professional challenge was, he said it had been to change from being an engineer to being a technology manager. When I joined Sony, I stopped being a full-time engineer and became a product development manager. This was a big adjustment professionally, but today, I'd rather leave the engineering to the young whiz kids now.

What have you enjoyed most about your work in the industry? It's no question, it's the people. After 35 years in this industry, I still wallow in the marvelous people you meet. I'm spending increasing time in the production community and movie industry and these are very enjoyable people.

Where do you see acquisition technology going in the next 10 years? I see it moving at an incredible pace. It's really picked up in the last five- to 10-years. It's speeded up on the imaging side, the camera side and certainly speeded up on the recording side. And I don't see it stopping. I see imagers continuing to evolve. I think we'll see new sensors come out. CCD development won't stop, it will continue to be refined and the promise of MOS is something to look forward to.

The really explosive change might be in the area of DSP processing. As we go to higher bit depths, higher speeds and greater calculating power all in fairly small chips, we'll be endowing the acquisition systems of the future with a tremendous amount of intelligence and image processing and manipulation capability. This will empower both cinematographers and studio people.

So where does HD lie in the broadcaster's future? Well, that, of course, is the great industry debate. I've always thought, and I very strongly think, that it's going to be very important to them (broadcasters). Despite the dilemma and the hesitance of the moment that's going on in the broadcast industry, and all of that's very understandable, the view I have is that we're now in the 21st century. How can the U.S. not have a more advanced communication system into the home? How can the American consumer not have enhanced visual and aural experiences in the home? I think it's just inconceivable that it (HDTV) doesn't happen. How's it going to happen and when is it going to happen? That's the big debate. But I just see an unstoppable inevitability that HDTV will be a part of a mix of services of the future and broadcasters will be there four square.

Prior to his current position, Mr. Thorpe was vice president of Production Technology for Sony Advanced Systems. He was responsible for HDTV market development and represented Sony on ATSC technology groups, as well as various SMPTE working groups dealing with HDTV electronic production.

Prior to Sony, Mr. Thorpe worked for RCA's Broadcast Division from 1966 to 1982, where he developed a range of color television cameras and telecine products. In 1981, Mr. Thorpe won the David Sarnoff Award for his innovations in automatic studio color cameras.

Mr. Thorpe is an IEE Graduate (1961) of the College of Technology in Dublin, Ireland and received his Chartered Engineer (C. Eng.) and MIEE distinction in 1961 from the Institute of Electrical Engineers in London, England.

Larry Thorpe will receive his award at this year's NAB Engineering luncheon to be held on Wednesday, April, 25 in Las Vegas.