SMPTE 2005 Expands Range

Digital cinema, HD newsgathering and IP featured

NEW YORK: Question the old, embrace the new: that's not a sentiment that's exactly close to the heart of veteran engineering and technical professionals that comprise the bulk of the national SMPTE membership.

But as the world of motion imaging has evolved, so must the organizations that attempt to represent it. And this year, SMPTE vows it's up to the task at its 2005 convention--Nov. 9-12 at the Hilton New York--that forgoes clever catch-all phrases in favor of an agenda that touches on all the major issues facing the industry today.


One of this year's organizers even went so far as to describe a list of 12 different topics, which range from expected content like advances in film technologies to more obscure subject matter, such as little-discussed quirks within media infrastructure.

"Past conferences have relied on a catch phrase [to describe that year's exhibition], but we don't need to do that here," said Peter Lude, editorial vice president of SMPTE who is also a senior vice president at Sony. "We're simply surrounding attendees with information on the latest advancements in motion imagery, bringing together existing thought leaders in the industry."

This year SMPTE is also catering to two burgeoning professional segments: the digital cinema crowd and the transportable media industry. SMPTE has seen a growing interest in its technological research and standards-setting procedures from several groups outside the broadcast industry, including heavy interest from IP- or Web-based content producers.

"They are facing many of the same challenges that broadcasters are addressing," Lude said.

The 2005 conference slate is wider and more diverse this year, with SMPTE slated to host discussions of 72 papers, divided into 12 sessions. Greater emphasis will be given to veterans of the engineering trenches this year. As opposed to more esoteric discussions on as-yet-unimplemented ideas, the bulk of papers will be given by "those who've put [the technology] to work," Lude said.

One of those more heavily touted sessions is the first-day forum on digital cinema, an all-day tutorial for those attendees who are still unsure how the digital cinema movement is playing out.

Earlier this year the long-awaited Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) d-cinema specification was finalized, , detailing the technical specs and key components necessary to set up and operate an end-to-end digital cinema system. The specifications were created by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC, a firm formed in 2002 whose members comprise seven of the major motion picture studios.

"The DCI standard has been three years in the making, and now that the standard is in place and there are real-world applications we can discuss; we thought a full-day forum was in order," Lude said.

Sources have estimated that at least 15,000 theatres across the nation will commit to installing digital cinema technologies within the next three years. Representatives from National Association of Theater Owners will outline their rollout model for digital cinema during the session.

"There's a concurrence in standards, the projection technology is now available and the financial model has been solved," Lude said. "The theoretical is now real, and so we've set aside a whole day for DCI specification discussions."


The conference will also devote sessions and paper discussions to IP-based video, advances in digital motion imaging, media storage, content protection and security, and display technologies, among other topics. One conference sure to elicit interest is an HD newsgathering session titled "HDTV Newsgathering--How About It?" that will look at the HD topic from the viewpoint of the broadcaster in terms of HDTV quality and workflow, as well as the latest equipment innovations on the market.

Sessions will also look at the way consumers are enjoying their content. "Consuming Content--An Un-quenchable Thirst" will explore options available to consumers today in the field of digital connectivity as well as storage technologies for managing digital content in consumer homes.

The conference will also likely update attendees on ongoing standards efforts. SMPTE has been in the news of late with ongoing work on several long-awaited standards, including the SMPTE S22-10 Working Group on Data Exchange, which is developing protocols for the exchange of XML-encoded data within traffic, automation and content delivery systems. In September, OmniBus Systems announced that one of its content management systems would support the data exchange protocol that's currently under development.

More than 75 exhibitors are also expected to be part of the 2005 SMPTE conference this year, including Miranda, Sundance Digital, SGI and Tektronix. The convention will also host the annual SMPTE Honors and Awards reception.

"Our main goal is to keep the conference relative and interesting, and that can be a challenge," seeing that the conference comes on the heels of IBC, one of the bigger international broadcasting conventions, said Ken Fuller, SMPTE conference vice president, who is also the vice president of technology for Ascent Media Group. "We don't want to overplan, but at the same time we want to make sure we're on top of all the relative topics that are happening. [This year], the speakers and papers we have here are from folks who are making the headlines."

More information about the upcoming convention can be found at

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.