Services Global Viewpoint – November 2018

Closing Thoughts on The SMPTE 2018 Fall Conference and Exhibition

SMPTE's 2018 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition brought together technicians, engineers and production specialists from all over the world. Here are some personal reflections on the event.

Having spent four days at the 2018 SMPTE Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition and Symposium, and the evening soirées on the pool deck and in the Exhibition Hall, I’ve probably gathered as many impressions about the event as anyone.

I’ve also had the benefit of interviewing dozens of attendees about the convention and I agree with most of their reflections. It was a glorious occasion for learning, networking, experiencing new ideas, and having some plain good ol’ times.

A Field Trip to Mars

Monday's talks included a very interesting presentation by Framestore called, "Field Trip to Mars.” the video was displayed as the view from inside a school bus. The windows were replaced by 4K screens and unbeknownst to the kids inside, they displayed the landscape of the Red Planet as the bus moved about the planet. The simulation was so complete that when the bus hit a bump, the image on the screens bobbed up and down.

A Field Trip to Mars

I was also very engaged by Peter Symes’ presentation, “Beyond SMPTE Timecode—the TLX Project." He outlined ongoing efforts to replace the now-outdated timing signal that has stamped the chronology of almost all of our recordings for the past half century. A summary of his presentation can be found at this The Broadcast Bridge article, "The Need for a Replacement Timecode Standard."

The project represents a chance to witness history in the making, and an opportunity to become part of it, if you take Symes up on his invitation to join the Drafting Group at TC-32NF-80 DG Extensible Time Label (TLX) at this link.

Some Closing Thoughts

Could the four-day experience bear some improvement? What couldn’t?

Those long 90 minute continuous sessions would benefit from a few breaks to let people return the phone calls and visit the necessities as the membership achieves greater vintage.

Also, it bugged me that some of the sessions changed their pre-declared subject matter at the last minute. If you have set your daily planner to attend 30 minutes on, say, electric hummingbirds only to be told at the last minute that it is really going to be about steam-powered wolves, it is too late to scurry over to another hall to sit in on your second choice.

Finally, although this is a technical conference, it is also inherently based on aural communication. While we were blessed to be joined by experts from around the world, that doesn’t mean English is their most facile means of communication.

If someone needs a translator just to make themselves understood, surely there are native English-speaking colleagues who would be glad to read their papers for them.

The papers themselves are supposed to be made available on the SMPTE Web site to all who attended the SMPTE 2018 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, so there is no reason for the awkwardness of a language barrier.

Overall this was four days of rich enlightenment, abundant networking, and the sharing of ideas between dedicated visionaries.

I’m already looking forward enthusiastically to the SMPTE 2019 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition.

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