HPA’s Hallen Sees “Incomparable Opportunity” for the Industry

It was exactly a year ago that the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA)’s long-time President Leon Silverman announced he was leaving the organization that he helped found to make room for the next generation of leadership and a newly expanded Board of Directors. The move surprised some, but was seen as a natural progression of an organization that since 1993 has supported individuals and businesses that provide creative and technical expertise, support, tools and infrastructure for professional content creation, distribution and archive.

At last year’s 2016 HPA Tech Retreat, Silverman announced his successor, Seth Hallen, whose day job is serving as Senior Vice President of Global Creative Services at Sony DADC New Media Solutions. Hallen had been an HPA Board Member since 2004, working closely with Silverman and the Board on a number of key initiatives and management of the organization. Silverman continues to serve on the Board of Directors in the newly created role of Past President, but it’s Hallen who’s now steering the ship.

The Broadcast Bridge caught up with Hallen as the HPA is preparing to host its 24th annual Tech Retreat gathering (counting its prior iteration as the International Teleproduction Society) on February 20th in Indian Wells, Calif. He has a clear vision for the organization going forward, and a dedication to helping a new generation of professionals engage with the HPA and become the professional video and broadcast industry’s next group of leaders.

The Broadcast Bridge: After almost a year as president of the HPA, what’s the state of the industry, as far as opportunity and business development?

Hallen: Companies and individuals engaged in postproduction and distribution are in a time of nearly incomparable opportunity. Through the past several years everyone has seen the massive increase in OTT content as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and others continue to release a growing slate of original programming. In many respects this has inundated the entire supply chain with more than enough to keep them busy. Key opportunities are present for postproduction service providers to continue to innovate developing tools and automation to drive time and cost efficiency. As innovation around this area evolves, so does a new breed of technical talent and new creative approaches. Additionally, with the growth of original programming, massive opportunities exist around localizing content as it gets distributed to consumers in all other global territories. All of this, along with the ongoing developments in acquisition formats and production that puts post on set, and the numerous theatrical release formats for traditional theatrical content, continues to drive complexity and in turn, opportunities.

Seth Hallen serves as SVP at Sony DADC New Media Solutions.

Seth Hallen serves as SVP at Sony DADC New Media Solutions.

The Broadcast Bridge: How is the HPA able to meet the needs of both the broadcast and post production industries? Where’s the common thread?

Hallen: The HPA’s three pillars are Community, Knowledge Exchange, and Recognition. We believe these pillars serve the common needs of the entire spectrum of our community, and our expert members come from broadcast, distribution, creativity, and post. The industry has changed dramatically over the years, and the HPA has evolved with it to speak to a broad audience engaged in the many critical aspects of creating and delivering content, whether to a phone, theater, screen or any platform.

Through HPA’s two primary industry events, the HPA Tech Retreat (now both Palm Springs and UK) and the HPA Awards, and the activities of HPA groups Women in Post, HPA NET (formerly SCRG) and our new Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) group, we are fortifying these pillars and offering value to the professionals who make, manage, and distribute content. From studios to facilities to production companies, every one of us is involved in an ongoing trajectory that needs the touch points of what the HPA offers. Our collaboration with SMPTE also serves to connect us to a broader community.

The Broadcast Bridge: How do you see the HPA’s value to the industry at large? Why should someone join?

Hallen: I can tell you from my own experience as an HPA member since 2004 that being a part of this organization has provided immeasurable value to me in my career success. By interacting with supply chain partners, competitors and individuals from supply chain segments outside my day-to-day purview, I am constantly gaining invaluable insights and information that I otherwise wouldn’t be. But most of all, the personal satisfaction of giving back to the industry and working with the HPA board and committee leaders and volunteers who are some of the most passionate, talented and caring humans in our community is by far what continues to drive my commitment to this great organization.

The Broadcast Bridge: How has your role as SVP of Global Creative Services at Sony’s DADC New Media Solutions helped with your presidency?

Hallen: Actually, it is the HPA that helps me in my role with Sony, for all the reasons I shared above. 

The HPA’s long-time President Leon Silverman (right) handed the reins over to Halen in 2016.

The HPA’s long-time President Leon Silverman (right) handed the reins over to Halen in 2016.

The Broadcast Bridge: This year’s Tech Retreat looks to be one of the largest gatherings ever, with more than 40 panel discussions and breakfast roundtables sessions. Any highlights you'd like to share?

Hallen: We are covering many relevant topics like workflow automation, including a panel that takes it to the next level and addresses the role that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could play. We have a special day, TR-X, where Virtual and Augmented Reality are the focus. Also at TR-X is an ATSC update. The SuperSession will focus on the impact and opportunities of the changing consumption patterns of the audience; a real look at how people are watching, where they are watching and what that means. During the main program, 8K in broadcast and HDR in cinema, remote production, and advanced cloud production topics will also be addressed.

The Broadcast Bridge: What technology/technologies excite you the most?

Hallen: Personally, I am excited about technologies that continue to improve the theatrical and home entertainment experience. Recent and ongoing improvements in HDR, immersive audio and HFR that continue to enhance the consumer experience not only drive value to entertainment products but also keep us very busy in our day jobs.

The Broadcast Bridge: What’s your long-term vision for the organization?

Hallen: One of the key initiatives the HPA has undertaken in the past year is related to the enrollment, engagement and empowerment of the next generation of industry professionals. Two important initiatives were kicked off last year: the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) program; and the Leon Silverman Mentorship Program. A few extremely dedicated HPA board and committee members have launched these programs and I am excited to watch how this new generation of bright, passionate young professionals engage with the HPA and become our community’s next group of leaders. 

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