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SMPTE Gathering Examines Media's Future

Karlheinz Brandenburg A Tuesday morning ribbon cutting ceremony, with the organization’s president, Robert B. Kisor, and its executive director, Kimberly Maki, doing the honors, signaled the start of this year’s Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers’ annual Tech Conference & Expo.

SMPTE 2008, a three-day event, hosted by the Renaissance Hotel here, quickly got down to business with a keynote address by Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Brandenburg, director of Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology, and also known as “the father of MP3.” In his address, “The Future of Digital Media,” Brandenburg described his vision for the future of digital media, saying that it would include a home viewing experience characterized by automated and personalized delivery of content.

Brandenburg’s speech was followed with a panel discussion of “transmedia,” a new form of storytelling. Participants included executive producer/writers Tim Kring and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, executive producers Naren Shankar and Jesse Alexander, videogame developer Matt Wolf and director Rob Letterman. "Transmedia" is intended to spread content across television, Internet, videogames and cell phone platforms, and incorporates branding and marketing elements.

Maki said that she was very pleased with attendance at the event, as it was up substantially over that at last year’s conference and expo, which was held in New York.

“It was an exciting opening day for SMPTE 2008, with a packed audience, sold out exhibit floor and inspiring content” Maki said. “We were thrilled to host some of the industry’s top technical and creative talent who inspired us with their vision of the industry today and tomorrow.”

Technical sessions at the conference covered a large range of topics relevant to today’s television and film professionals, including AFD implementation, 3D production and display issues, working with and delivering 1080p content and an area of growing interest and concern--new television display technologies.

A number of special tutorials covered topics ranging from digital image artifacts, television timing and synchronizing systems for the digital future and the challenges involved in moving to a completely file-based production workflow.

The event came to a close Thursday evening with a two hour honors and award ceremony, recognizing individuals who have contributed to both the television/motion picture industry and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

At the ceremony, a total of 15 people received medals and other awards, and 10 SMPTE members were elevated to Fellow status within the organization.

This year’s award recipients include four Eastman Kodak technologists who were honored for their achievements in the film and television entertainment industry.

Michael Ryan received the Technicolor/Herbert T. Kalmus Gold Medal for his work in the development of color negative film products and research in the field of electron sensitization technology.

Richard B. Wheeler, a Kodak senior principal scientist, and Nestor Rodriguez, a senior technical associate with the company, shared the SMPTE Journal Award for their article “The Effect of Single-Sensor CFA Captures on Images Intended for Motion Picture and TV Applications.” The article explores image quality trade-offs associated with sensors and associated color filter arrays (CFAs).

SMPTE’s Journal Certificate of Merit this year went to a Kodak research fellow, Dr. Thomas Maier, in recognition of his contributions to the SMPTE Engineering Guidline for Digital Cinema that appeared in six articles spread across a two year span.

"While these awards are individual honors, they also represent a broad base of recognition for a very highly respected team of people," said Gary Einhaus, vice president and chief technology officer of Kodak's motion picture division. "This entire group is made up of extraordinary professionals whose expertise in motion picture technology—film, digital and hybrid—represents an important element of Kodak's success. Their creativity, diligence and scientific curiosity will help lead us into the exciting future of imaging technology."

Other awardees included Birney Dayton, president and CEO of audio/visual technology at Nvision, who received the SMPTE progress medal; David Master, founder of ACME Animation, this year’s recipient of the Eastman Kodak Gold Medal; Dr. Albert J.P. Theuwissen, professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, received the Fuji gold medal award; and Shawn Jones, engineering and technology director at NT Audio, received the Samuel L. Warner Memorial Award.

The honors and awards ceremony was emceed by Robb Weller, partner/executive producer at North Hollywood-based Weller/Grossman Productions. The event was jointly sponsored by the DALSA Corp. and Sony.

Next year’s conference and exhibition will also be held in Hollywood.