SMPTE 2017: Executive Director Barbara Lange Considers the Long View

LOS ANGELES—Although she is midway through the SMPTE 2017 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange is already planning and strategizing for the future—and is in fact, focused as far forward as 2020.

"It's a busy time," she laughed. "No rest for the weary, that's for sure."

Barbara Lange She explained that in addition to the SMPTE events scheduled for 2018—including the HPA Tech Retreat (produced with partner association the Hollywood Professional Alliance), The Future of Cinema Conference at the NAB Show, Entertainment Technology in the Connected Age, Bits By the Bay, the U.K. HPA Tech Retreat, the SMPTE Toronto Boot Camp, and next year's Technical Conference & Exhibition—she and the Board of Governors have been involved in "a strategic planning exercise that we call Vision 2020."

Initiated earlier this year, the Vision 2020 project was designed to examine "how this industry is evolving and changing, and how we can stay ahead of it, and stay involved and stay relevant." Distilled to its most basic, Lange said, the Vision 2020 project asks, "What do we want to be when we grow up, after 100 years?"

(In a related interview, SMPTE President Matthew Goldman echoed Lange's focus: "My top priority for 2018 is to finish our business plan and accompanying roadmap so that we can meet the strategic goals we set out in our Vision 2020 strategic planning efforts.")

Lange admitted this requires an "in-depth thought process. We're building towards consensus about how we want to proceed, and we're going through the exercise, now, of kind of discussing and brainstorming." She said the organization has been examining how to best enact its mission statement—"to be a leader in the advancement of the art, science and craft of the image, sound and metadata ecosystems around the world"—in the midst of rapid technological and business changes.

These new plans could mean anything from rethinking how the Board of Governors is organized and members are represented, to expanding the organization's participation in areas beyond media and entertainment. "I personally am very excited about where the board wants to go," Lange continued. "Stay tuned."

Keeping that next generation of SMPTE members in mind, Lange has also been working with the HPA's Young Entertainment Professionals Program (YEP), an initiative that provides a framework for young professionals to network and learn from peers and mentors. Those selected for the yearlong YEP program participate in HPA events, including the HPA Tech Retreat and HPA Awards, as well as exclusive mentoring events. "It's a great program to cultivate the next generation of entertainment professionals," she said.

To accommodate the continued growth of the annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, SMPTE will be holding next year's event in a new venue—about five miles southeast of its current Hollywood location. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, will allow the event to be centralized in one hall. Goldman explained the move in an interview, stating, "Simply put, we are a victim of our own success. We have outgrown the Hollywood & Highland location and so we sought a venue that will allow us to expand, while still providing the social networking opportunities. "The new location allows the conference and exhibition to continue to grow," he said.