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SMPTE Opens Today

SMPTE 2020
(Image credit: SMPTE)

The world’s leading experts in media technology will gather virtually this week for the annual SMPTE conference, running Nov, 10-12.  This year, the show is focusing on eSports with its theme, SMPTE 2020: "Game On,” with additional tracks covering a wide range of topics from VR, IP, 8K, AI and the future of film and television production. 

Barbara Lange, executive director of SMPTE, acknowledged the difficulties 2020 have presented in putting this year’s program together. However, she also noted the advantages and challenges of putting together a virtual program for members scattered throughout the world. Instead of everything happening in west coast time this year, the organization scheduled its sessions keeping mind its global responsibilities.

“We've taken great care to schedule programming in ‘time-friendly’ zones, specifically for Asia-Pacific area, so we really are trying to take advantage of the fact that it's virtual,” she said. “We're a global community and want as much of our community to participate.”

A virtual exhibition of approximately 75 exhibitors have set up shop and will be available throughout the conference, according to Lange.

“[The exhibits] will have 24, hours per day of capability if they want and attendees can make appointments,” she said. “They'll have ‘Zoom rooms’ where they can have private chats and exhibitors can show off their products through videos and collateral download. So we're really trying to create as much of an ‘exhibition feeling’ as we can.”

SMPTE also took into consideration current events and the fact that this year’s conference is online when determining how much attendees should pay to attend the 2020 virtual conference, Lange added.

“We did Institute pricing for developing nations that people are taking advantage of and also for those who may have lost their jobs, so we're mindful of that,” Lange said. “We also have a ‘pay it forward’ price point where people who have the wherewithal to pay a little extra to help offset the cost to those who pay less. I'm really delighted that so many people stepped up to do that.”

This year’s conference will also include content from SMPTE’s Future of Cinema and Connected Asia programs, according to Lange. One advantage of having virtual sessions, Lange said, is that attendees won’t feel pressured in trying to cover too much all at once in the three-day conference.

“Everything will be available to attendees for 30 days after the event, so they can go in and hear a technical paper, or get exhibitor information,” she said. “Attendees won't have to feel so pressed in three days to do everything.”

Thursday will focus on eSports, with the highlight featuring a real-time exhibition match between a professional team (“Team Liquid”) and a student team from the Rochester Institute of Technology, Lange said, adding that Ian Sansavera, head of post production for eSports production house 1UP Studios will deliver the keynote on Thursday.

SMPTE is also working with a number of partners to present this week’s programming, including HPA Women in Post, the Information Display and Entertainment Association (IDEA), 8K Association, Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) Forum, Alliance for IP Media Solutions (AIMS), and Audio Engineering Society (AES).

With the pandemic forcing everyone to meet online, Lange says the organization took this into account when planning this year’s event.

“It's a very immersive and interactive platform that won’t make you feel like you're sitting in one webcast after another,” she said. ”I think we’ve learned from the past eight months what we think our audience would want to see in an event like this—they want the traditional good valued content, but they also want to network.”

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Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Technology (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.