SMPTE Q&A—Jaclyn Pytlarz

Offering a Millennial's perspective on the future of the workforce
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Shortly beforethe start of the SMPTE 2016 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, NewBay editors spoke with Jaclyn Pytlarz about her panel session “Re-Inventing Entertainment Engineering: How to Blend the Experience of Yesterday with Millennials’ Vision of Tomorrow.”

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TV TECHNOLOGY:How has social media affected TV and movie production, and where does it go in 10 years?

JACLYN PYTLARZ: Social media is not only a new form of advertising, but it’s also a form of collaboration and unity. Studios can directly connect with the audience and fans across the globe can unite. This sparks a new world for TV and movie production where independent productions will continue to gain in popularity. Exposure, especially positive, in social media will continue to influence audience perception and ultimately number of viewers. Studios now have more information than ever before. Through social media they have a way to closely monitor what people are interested in and how certain topics are trending. This information can help guide storytelling to better meet the interests of the target audience. Over time, I see story telling following the trends of popularity. As movie-goer numbers continue to decline, a certain amount of innovation is required. Utilizing social media will be vital to gain insight into the target market.

TVT: How would you characterize the primary differences between the current and future (next-gen) engineers?

JP: On the whole, goals of Millennial, Baby Boomer, and Gen-X engineers are very similar. We all want to succeed and serve our company to the best of our abilities. The main differences are the methods that we go about fulfilling these goals. From my perspective, there are two main differences in the work place between Millennials and previous generations. First, as Millennials, we’re more collaborative; many prefer to work in groups. So in the work environment, there tends to be two camps: those who take a project and prefer to work on solutions alone, and those who are constantly discussing ideas between people in the team. Second, as Millennials, we search for meaning in our work; we don’t just work to put food on the table. We’ve been told all of our lives that finding a job we enjoy is the most important thing. So our methods and motivations differ slightly from previous generations. We tend to be a bit pickier about our jobs, but have great passion when we find one that fits.

TVT: SMPTE historically has been about "standards," which by their very nature involve locking technology in place for a certain period based on hardware limitations. What is the future of such an organization to people who grew up in an IT-based world?

JP: I feel that there will always be a need for standards as consistency is vital to successful motion picture/television deployment. There is, however, a certain amount of fluidity that is helpful for the rapid evolution of technology. In the future, I see standards organizations requiring more proof points and industry approval. Deployment of OTT services creates a network for rapid prototyping and verification of new technology. Therefore, moving forward, before a piece of technology evolves to a standards proposal, I think there will be a greater amount of industry vetting. Standards are helpful not only to aid in consistent imagery from channel to channel and everything in-between, but also for international program exchange. I don’t see these needs going away.

TVT: What does the panel think are the ways Millennials might misunderstand those who came before–Boomers and Gen Xers? Are there stereotypes out there that are just wrong?

JP: One common stereotype that we as Millennials tend to assume is that Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers are technology inept. This is, on the whole, untrue. Both those generations have adapted far more to technology than we ever have including cell phones, computers and the internet–all things we as Millennials practically grew up with. As a generation who was raised with this technology, Millennials do have an advantage: this technology is built into our thought process; it is a part of us. However, as we think through this stereotype, we can’t forget one thing: the Baby-Boomer generation was the leader of this technology revolution with innovative tech elites such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They are the reason tech is where it is today.

TVT: In what way do Millennials in the entertainment technology workforce feel the most misunderstood? Are there stereotypes out there that are just wrong?

JP: I feel the most common Millennial stereotype that misrepresents my generation is that we’re lazy. The era of our upbringing was vastly different than the previous two generations, so we are fundamentally different. My generation works less with our hands, and more with our minds. Just the other day I was watching a game show where teams were split between Millennials and Gen Xers. The Gen Xers immediately started moving puzzle pieces around trying different ideas, working it through. While the Millennials sat back and studied the puzzle. Counting tiles and working it out in their heads. Millennials grew up with video games and puzzles. We’ve learned to use our minds more than our hands; our difference in working style is not a lack of effort.

The other aspect that leads to a laziness assumption is that Millennials tend to balance work/life integration more than either previous generation. The borders between work and social life are becoming fuzzier. Gen X and Baby Boomers especially come from a time of “work, work, work.” As Millennials tend to socialize and take breaks more frequently, I’m not surprised that a stigma of laziness has formed. However, with this work-life integration comes a number of positive aspects as well. We tend to work longer hours, making up for these breaks. Teamwork tends to be stronger and work-life happiness higher. In the end, the only differences are our methods, not our motivation or effort.

Jaclyn Pytlarz is an applied vision science engineer at Dolby Laboratories. Her research includes vision science surrounding developing technologies for high dynamic range and wide color gamut displays.