Tech Shock and Awe

HPA's Tech Retreat intends to stun again


Hollywood Post Alliance's Tech Retreat will highlight the brave new world of standards, digital cinematography and breakthroughs in acquisition and post production, Jan. 26-28 at Rancho Las Palmas Marriott Resort & Spa. And yes, the weather, networking and improved softball experience will be there for the taking.

Prior to the official HPA kickoff are two concurrent, half-day, separate fee seminars on Tuesday afternoon, Jan 25: ATSC's on PSIP and Charles Poynton's on wide gamut and wide dynamic acquisition and display.

The first "is a must for broadcasters," said Mark Schubin, given the FCC's mandate to incorporate a dynamic PSIP system by Feb. 1. It will outline the fundamentals, "getting it right," FCC rules and the PMCP metadata standard.

Poynton's seminar will cover how to get the look of film from HDTV equipment.


HPA's event officially begins on Wednesday, Jan. 26, with a special compression session, 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. It will feature testimony on JPEG2000 and H.264 (also known as AVC), as well as assessments of paying for all this wonderful stuff.

Championing JPEG 2000 will be Dolby's Walt Husak, "somebody who was opposed to it," said Schubin, but a staunch convert "after he ran the tests." Harmonic's David Price will follow his astonishingly good presentation of H.264 at the PBS Technology Conference with a market perspective here, said Schubin.

Following the special AM session will be trademark crowd pleasers: Schubin's Tech Year in Review, the panel of broadcasters, an update on the consumer marketplace and Brad Hunt's MPAA recap of content protection battles.

Demos will also be open for review.

"I have no idea what they'll be bringing," said Schubin. "I'm always very surprised."

Last year's retreat introduced the Arri V-20 and the Lucas digital box: a one-inch cube that contained a complete camera attitude sensor, Schubin said. It sat on top of a camera to instantly relay pan-and-tilt information to a metadata recording.

Thursday morning roundtables will include a discussion about ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number), which Schubin describes as the "industry equivalent of the IFBN data system for books."

"Every video program or digital cinema will have this unique number that can be looked up for all the information about rights and ownership," said Schubin.


Afternoon acquisition sessions will include a "Tapeless Camcorder Acquisition" panel on archiving moderated by Avid fellow Peter Fasciano, plus comments by MTI's Kevin Manbeck and ETC's Loren Nielsen on acquiring and displaying digital dailies.

Plus 8's Don Miskowich, who developed Baytech Cineram--the first memory used for digital cinema cameras like Thomson's Viper--will update the audience on "Uncompressed HD Recording." Thomson Grass Valley's "Bones" software (a later version of its Specter) will be outlined in "Film Transfer for Digital Intermediates." Larry Thorpe, formerly with Sony and now with Canon, will discuss digital cinematography lenses. Panavision's John Galt will showcase the 12.4 megapixel Genesis that, said Schubin, "doesn't use the same color filtering" as its competitors.

The retreat's digital cinematography section will include "X'Y'Z' Color Space for Digital Cinema," an alternative to the traditional RGB. "MXF Packaging" will give post houses the nuts and bolts needed to supply the digital cinema community. And reps from U.S. and European studios will recap what's happening on both sides of the pond.

Friday, Jan. 28, will be dedicated to roundtables, updates and standards. Attorney Jim Burger recaps Washington news; consultant Merrill Weiss will talk about extended content control information, a standard that details copying, and New Zealand's John McKay will discuss sound editing. The audience will discover how Final Cut Pro penetrates the pro marketplace and how feature film editing is done on a desktop PC using an Adobe product. Peter Symes, Al Kovalik and Paul Collins will discuss standards that include real-time device-control protocol (an MOS standard) and GTX.

"I'll probably talk specifically about the MXF group of standards and the VC-1 codec," said Thomson's Peter Symes, who is also SMPTE's Engineering VP. "They're the two most complex things we've ever tackled--MXF, particularly, is being designed as a 'do almost anything for almost anybody' sort of scenario."

Belden's Steve Lampen is expected to "reveal stuff that makes your jaw drop," said Schubin. Last year, Lampen presented test results showing coaxial cable run over by a car and a tank, as well as crunched and tied in knots that "still carried HDSDI just fine." But putting cable tie markers on a pure, beautiful pristine piece of coax destroyed the characteristics of the cable.

Other 'believe it or not' revelations include "4K file Access Without Transfer" and networking over the dark fiber network owned by Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power.

To register for the Tech Retreat, go to