Back to the desert

Incredible! Another year is quickly slipping by. We're already a few weeks removed from yet another annual sojourn to the southern California desert. If you study the Bible, you might be thinking Lent and it's symbology of 40 days of repentance in the desert. But, if you are a technologist in our industry, a February trip to the desert meant only one thing: It was time for the Hollywood Post Alliance's annual Technology Retreat.

Far from fasting in the desert for 40 days, this event is a four-day feast in the desert, sating both mind and stomach with technical presentations and demonstrations and wonderful camaraderie at pleasant group lunches and dinners. And, in the case of the morning meal, both brain and belly are satisfied simultaneously at breakfast roundtables, where you pile your plate with biddles and bits and then join the technology table that interests you for a lively, over-breakfast discussion. With several dozens of topics of discussion to choose from, if you can't find one of interest, you must have wandered into the wrong conference.

This year's event

This year's annual HPA Tech Retreat was held Feb. 14-17 at Indian Wells, near Palm Springs, CA. For the uninitiated, the Hollywood Post Alliance is the trade association of the southern California content creation and finishing community who are involved in the end-to-end process of generating everything from motion pictures to television programming and commercials. That the HPA knows how to put on a technical conference can be attested to by the continued year-after-year success of this event that attracts both presenters and attendees representing production, post-production and broadcast from all around the world. This year was no exception. Attendance was a sellout, and there were more than 60 companies with technology demonstrations maxing out the allotted demo rooms. Indeed, there were additional companies waiting to step in had space become available.

This year's presentations had a good mix of subject matter for both broadcasters and content providers. Resolution was back in the fore, with good discussion of higher-than-HDTV resolution, moving on to 4K and 8K. With just the briefest of mentions of 3-D, it is all but official that 3-D TV is dead, dead, dead. I expect the CEA will be the last to get that message. But, with the CEA reporting HDTV penetration at 87 percent of all television households, it is easy to understand the need to try and find or create that next “must have” product.

Broadcasters have created yet another mobile DTV consortium, this one called the Mobile Content Venture. Mobile DTV has created more consortiums, organizations and associations than any other technology that I am aware. Upon hearing about this latest group, it occurred to me that I could probably do an entire column on the history and creation of mobile DTV bodies. Following that, a business case history on how not to roll out a new technology might be in order.

The three days of breakfast roundtables, technical presentations and technology demonstrations were preceded by the HPA Supersession day, which included a half-day ATSC seminar on ATSC 2.0, and other sessions on everything from D-Cinema to television production workflows.

Same time next year

This event is at the top of my “must attend” conference list each year. Next year's Lenten time event is scheduled for the week of Feb. 18-22, once again at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort at Indian Wells. For fasting, solitude and repentance, I suggest a different venue. But, if you want knowledge, camaraderie and sustenance, mark your calendar for the event and for when registration opens in November.

Anthony R. Gargano is a consultant and former industry executive.

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