SMPTE Gets Down To Business

Digital future to dominate expo


When members of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers gather for their annual conference and exposition at the Pasadena Convention Center Oct. 23-26, they'll have plenty to talk about.

The recent government-mandate for DTV tuners, the surge in digital technology and the details of creating new standards to cover the changes will be the main topics of discussion at the gathering, themed "Progress and Pragmatism."

"Progress is being made in advanced TV, DTV, in digital cinema and a plethora of areas of technology," said Ed Hobson, the association's editorial vice president and a vice president with National TeleConsultants. "We want to highlight those areas and show where progress has been made and where it's headed, but we also need to show a pragmatic view of business models and how to make the new technologies work for the industry.

"The key issue is the DTV update," he said. "As people move through the transition from analog to digital and its methods of moving files around via information technology, we see that digital technology is growing greatly, and we have a whole day's session on this."

Besides the conference and the roughly 60 exhibitors, attendees can also look forward to an awards ceremony and the introduction of new fellows of the society. The Industry Luncheon will include a keynote address from Eastman Kodak Chief Technical Officer James Stoffel, who holds more than 25 patents. The most important attraction will be the 13 seminars and tutorials covering topics ranging from digital cinema and post production to new storage systems.

"The Wednesday seminar on Digital Rights Management and encryption systems is of prime importance to our members," said Hobson. "It's very crucial to people who own the content, and it asks questions about how we protect that content in a world of new digital systems designed for sharing." This session is meant to help people understand DRM from a business perspective and will include a history of encryption.

Also important will be the digital cinema sessions. The morning session will cover the technical and business issues involved in digital cinema technology and adopting it in theaters. The afternoon session will feature the creative side of filmmaking and how those issues mesh with engineering. SMPTE is currently working on a series of digital cinema standards and is making its standards more open.

The awards ceremony Friday evening will include the induction of new honorary members, the society's highest recognition. Also honored will be student winners of a scholarship named for the recently deceased engineer Lou Wolf, a fellow and officer of the society. The society is sponsoring a fellows luncheon on Saturday for members of SMPTE's honor society. Fellows are engineers and leaders nominated and considered in secret, so being named to the group comes as a surprise to the new fellows.

A full conference registration costs $700 for members and $900 for nonmembers. Access to technical sessions only costs $500 and $700 respectively, and a one-day pass is $400. For more information, visit