Highlights of next week’s annual conference include file transfers, IP infrastructure, cloud computing, captioning and compression systems for broadcasters. And as Wendy Aylsworth (pictured) becomes the group’s first woman president, SMPTE is stepping up its focus on recruiting more women and attracting computer literate young people into traditional engineering technologies.
For broadcasters traveling to Los Angeles next week, the SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition is offering a rich selection of timely topics that reflect just how much change is now occurring in the television industry.
In only three days at the Loews Hollywood Hotel (Oct. 23-25), broadcasters will get a detailed tour through the new IP broadcast infrastructure, file-based workflows, captioning for Internet-delivered content, the migration to cloud computing, color matching, asset management, archiving, ultra high-definition video, the BXF standard and next-generation compression techniques.
“We’ve got plenty to keep broadcasters busy every single day,” says Paul Hearty, SMPTE editorial vice president and program chair.
“Broadcasters can find out what’s going on in 3D, 4K and ultra high-definition,” Hearty adds. “These formats will affect them in the short term because they generate the need for very good, high-quality content creation even if it’s not broadcast at full 4K. All of these things — even when presented in a cinema context — have an impact on broadcasters. Every advance we make to higher quality ultimately shows up in the broadcast world.”
Among the sessions targeted directly to broadcasters are file-based workflows with representatives from Harris, AD-id, Signiant, Cisco, Miranda and IBM. Closed-captioning challenges for IP video delivery, including a look at the SMPTE Timed Text standard, will be addressed by a range of speakers from the FCC, CPC Closed Captioning, Microsoft, TBT, Sony and HBO.
There will be a wide range of presentations on HD and 4K imaging systems, including the European Union, as well as a summary by NBCUniversal of the 3D production issues it encountered during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Ryerson University in Canada will present a session on unconstrained 2D to 3D image and video conversion using semi-automatic energy minimization techniques.
A session on dynamic rate control technologies enabling priority-based bandwidth allocation for IP news gathering will be presented by a representative from the Japan Broadcasting Corp. The system dynamically allocates bandwidth to news stories based on priority versus sharing bandwidth equally with other content.
Next-generation techniques for the protection and security of IP transport systems will be offered by Nevion USA, while Vislink will present a session on broadcasting video over cellular networks and the Internet.
Another session deals with improving network performance amid exponential growth in video-data-driven bandwidth requirements — including an evaluation of the HEVC/H.265 compression scheme from Ericsson. There will also be a session on graphics processing units, or GPUs, to support RAW format 4K workflows from NVIDIA.
Another session deals with in-depth insights into scalable file systems developed by Fraunhofer IIS researchers for real-time content access—and one that enables consumers to receive different image and video versions depending on their current access rights.
There will be insights into the IEEE’s rewrite of its Ethernet standard designed for easier audio/video device interoperability from Belden; and an update from Japan’s national broadcaster, NHK, on the results of its decision to double the frame rate of its super Hi-Vision (SHV) system’s video to 120 Hz to improve quality of motion portrayal.
A presentation from Deloitte Consulting about the use of cloud-based infrastructures in media and entertainment operations deals with a hot trend in broadcasting.
There’s also a review of the SMPTE BXF standard for moving commercials and related metadata across multiple screens. Christopher Lennon of Harris will give a presentation about changing broadcast advertising schedules right up until air time.
For an organization preparing to celebrate its 100th birthday in 2016, SMPTE itself is also going through considerable change itself this year. For the first time, its new president, Wendy Aylsworth, is a woman.
Aylsworth is senior vice president of technology for technical operations at Warner Brothers and oversees the establishment of new technologies for the studio’s production divisions. Part of her job is to assess the impact of emerging technologies on content creation and distribution.
As one who got her bachelor’s degree in computer engineering sciences from the University of Michigan, she has the right training to lead SMPTE into a new era where the goal is to recruit more women into engineering fields and to lure computer literate young people into traditional SMPTE engineering technologies.
“It’s a wonderful milestone to have Wendy as president,” says Barbara Lange, SMPTE’s executive director, “although many might ask what took so long? The answer is there aren’t that many women in this [engineering] space. I think Wendy will be a great leader for the organization and she will serve well as a role model for young women who may not think this is a career path for them. As the president of a major and very influential professional association, it is something she will do very well.”
Lange notes, however, that less than 10% of SMPTE’s members are women and it is a continuing challenge to draw more women and younger people into the organization. “Young people are going off into more IT-oriented domains,” she says. “We need to make SMPTE more inviting to young people and women. Diversity is an important thing.”
The topic, one clearly on the mind of SMPTE members, drew Hearty into the conversation. “Image and sound over the Internet is the same as image and sound over a broadcast channel,” Hearty says. “Our challenge is to embrace those that use other delivery mechanisms and help carry our expertise on image and sound with them. Part of that is establishing our relevance to that community.”
At the conference next week, 100 students — young, potential future SMPTE members — have been invited to a reception. Held in collaboration with RED Studios, the students will meet SMPTE executives and mentors. “We want to encourage people from the IT side to come to the SMPTE conference,” said Lange. “This is a milestone event at trying to embrace their community.”
Next June 18 and 19, SMPTE will collaborate with Stanford University to produce a conference called Entertainment Technology in the Internet Age. “It’s our opportunity to bring together Hollywood and Silicon Valley,” Lange says. “It’s about how to get those images and sound to the Internet. We want to get a dialogue started with those who think they don’t need a traditional knowledge base with YouTube, but actually do.”
The goal of the Stanford conference, Hearty says, is to invest in a new, younger community that hopefully will join and participate in future SMPTE conferences.
“There needs to be a flow of information across distribution platforms,” Hearty said. “And that’s our challenge. A lot of it is the people working the IT side of things don’t really have a background in image and sound production. There are important things we can share with them and there are important things we can learn from them.”