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In a rapidly changing industry such as television, just keeping up with the technology front can be a full-time job. The problem is that no one can afford to spend that much time keeping current with events, regulations and technology.

Every industry's solution to this dilemma is to hold a trade show. The problem is that trade shows always focus on the exhibits, which overshadow the original intent — which was to help attendees learn something.

In the television industry, we enjoy a variety of conventions, conferences and seminars. Once we get past the NAB convention, the size of the events targeted at this industry fall off rapidly.

These second-tier events often are coordinated by member-based organizations (SBE, SMPTE, SCTE). The events have exhibits, which pay the bills, but these organizations live and breathe to promote educational value to their members.

SMPTE holds several events throughout the year. Most notable are the winter conference and fall convention. The SBE holds its yearly convention in combination with a chapter that runs a healthy local event. The combination works well for the chapter's visibility, while providing a base of support for the organization's national event.

Another organization, the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA), holds several events throughout the year that promote technology education.

The HPA is a trade association that represents Southern California-based businesses and individuals involved in the creation and finishing of television, commercials, movies, digital media and other dynamic media content.

One of the HPA's orchestrated events is the Winter Technology Retreat held in Palm Springs. The retreat focuses on more than just “post” issues. Cameras, storage, lenses, audio and a whole range of topics are discussed. While smaller in design than other conventions, this conference represents a jewel in the arena of attendee education.

Several things make this confab different from others you might have attended. First, it's held mid-winter in Palm Springs. Not a bad place to be in January. Second, the event's focus is on technology, complete with leading-edge papers and exhibits — no vendor sales pitches! Third, the event is definitely attended by Hollywood (and New York) content creators and production elite. And finally, the sessions always run on time, thanks to session coordinator Mark Schubin's edict of “be on time, or be gone.”

The HPA winter retreat is focused on education and technology, rather than selling exhibit booth space. So, don't expect to see halls filled with glitzy Las Vegas-style flashing lights and a couple hundred exhibitors. Instead, there are several rooms of low-key technology exhibits showing current and future products. You will see traditional ready-to-buy products, but also some leading-edge demos. And, this is a hands-on exhibition. If you want to test drive the product or demo, you'll be able to do so, all while enjoying your favorite adult beverage.

Just think about spending several mid-winter days in Palm Springs, complete with more than 110 golf courses, great hotels, a temperate winter climate, top-notch sessions, good equipment demos and great hospitality. Now, what's not to like about this?

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