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SMPTE Technology Summit on Cinema

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CreativeCOW presents SMPTE Technology Summit on Cinema -- NAB Expo Feature


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On April 14 and 15, the weekend before NAB 2012 officially opens, SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) will once again hold a two-day summit as the group has for the past 10 years. This year, however, the Digital Cinema Summit has been re-branded as the Technology Summit on Cinema. Summit Program Committee Chair Paul Hearty explains the reason behind the name change.

"The summit started at the same time that the Digital Cinema initiatives started," notes Hearty, who also heads up the technology standards group at Sony Electronics. "We've tracked the emergence and maturation of Digital Cinema. At the outset, we were thinking, Why would we be interested? Then, our focus progressed to, How would we do it? As matters progressed, we got more and more specific and detailed in what we examined."

"Now we have an industry that's matured even more," he continues. "We're looking at extensions to Digital Cinema: What about higher frame rates? How about greater than 4K resolution? How can we extend the sound? The intent is to cover as much as possible, probing the edges of extension and filling in the gaps of things that are important to understand."


SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange
Those questions and more will be the focus on the sessions at the Summit this year. According to SMPTE Executive Director Barbara Lange, the Technology Summit was put together, as in previous years, by a group of volunteer members who brainstorm on what the more interesting trends and highlights are in cinema. "A core of SMPTE is these volunteers who have important day jobs but put a lot of time into these events," she says.

When it comes to "probing the edges of Digital Cinema extension," the Technology Summit will take a first in-depth look at Laser Projection in a panel headed by SMPTE President Peter Ludé. "We have some interesting stuff on laser projection which is the next big thing on the exhibition side," says Hearty. Lange points out that the panel will discuss a range of issues pursuant to laser projection, not simply the technology.

Cinema Sound advances will be the focus of a panel organized by Brian Vessa, Chair of SMPTE Theatre B-Chain Study Group and moderated by Dolby's Dr. Sunil Bharitkar. The session will "examine a novel approach for the packaging and playback of audio tracks for 3D and feature a presentation on audio processing for cinema applications," as well as review the progress of the SMPTE B-Chain Study Group and "its work on acoustical measurement techniques for improved interchange and interoperability for the cinema."

SMPTE Executive Vice President Wendy Aylsworth will moderate a panel focused on Higher Frame Rate Stereoscopic 3D, which will also feature advanced technology demonstrations. Also in the 3D realm, Stereoscopic Cinema Historian Ray Zone will moderate a discussion on "a new wave of independent 3D filmmaking," including three indie 3D filmmakers: Eric Kurland, Tom Koester and Perry Hoberman.

The Summit begins with a presentation updating Digital Cinema Deployment, detailed by experts Chuck Goldwater, Cinedigm/Consultant and Michael Karagosian of MKPE Consulting. A presentation on 4K Production and Beyond will cover "a number of new and exciting efforts underway" and also deal with the nontrivial questions about upping the resolution ante. The presentation will "also address the practicalities of 8K and examine the progress of UHDTV among standards bodies and in Japan, featuring simulated demonstrations of the difference between all these resolutions."

SMPTE Fellow and Technology Consultant Mark Schubin will moderate a discussion on Alternative Content Distribution, with speakers Elizabeth Scott, Executive Producer for Major League Baseball on Moneyball and the Chief Media and Digital Officer for the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Barbara Mortensen, who negotiates with producers, distributors and exhibitors to bring alternative content to cinema screens; Lenny Laxer, Vice President of All-Mobile Video; Bob Fiorella, COO, Cinedigm Entertainment Group; and Patrick Leon, Senior Manager, Business Development of Sony Digital Cinema Series.

ARRI's Ryan Fletcher will talk about 'Green' Lighting on the Set, focusing on LED lighting that is now practical for many television and motion picture applications. LED lighting translates to reduced power consumption and cooling requirements and color adjustments without gels. The session will "review the fundamentals of making white light with LEDs; why illumination with identical color temperature measurements can look very different to the eye and even more different to a digital camera; and the relationship between trichromatic illumination and three-color camera sensors."

Keynoter for the Summit is Christopher McGurk, Chairman and CEO of Cinedigm Digital Cinema Corp. McGurk has 25 years of experience in senior leadership positions at MGM Studios, Overture Films, Anchor Bay Entertainment, Universal Studios, Disney Studios and other companies. As Vice Chairman of the Board and COO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from 1999 to 2005, McGurk was the company's lead operating executive until MGM was sold to a consortium of executives. McGurk is also involved in the Foundation of Motion Picture Pioneers, the American Cinematheque, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

This year, more than ever, NAB attendees should seriously consider attending SMPTE's pre-NAB conference. Whereas the transition to Digital Cinema may be largely resolved in the more limited way we have defined it in recent years, this Summit promises to open our eyes to how much more Digital Cinema can be, "probing the edges" of technology, art and business.




2011 SMPTE Tech Summit speakers Douglas Trumbull and Eric Brevig








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