HPA Tech Retreat Wraps With a Look at “Breaking the Model”

Disruptive content creation models and the resulting vulnerability of content assets were recurring themes at the 2014 HPA Tech Retreat last week, and the topics of discussion on the event’s last day. NSS Labs Sales Director Kari Grubin moderated a panel on “Breaking the Model” that took a look at both issues. She recounted her own “aha moment” at last year’s Tech Retreat, during an ETC panel featuring USC students talking about their media consumption patterns.

“Several students said they found and watched movies on the Internet,” said Grubin, who is also chair of HPA’s Women in Post. “That was a defining moment for me. How people look at content has changed. How has security changed?”

Grubin is now involved in cybersecurity, and asked questions that she believes post house executives should be considering. “What are our considerations in an IT-connected world?” she asked. “Every time there’s an attack, the people perpetuating attacks get smarter and smarter.”

“Post and IT teams have to learn how to work together,” she concluded. “We want to help the IT folks understand what content production is and work with traditional engineers to understand the IT side.”

Pixar Director of Production Mastering Cynthia Slavens described today’s disruption in the traditional production cycle. “There’s very little that’s still ‘post’ about post,” she said, echoing another recurring theme at the retreat. “We’re running alongside shows all the time.”

Warner Bros. Technical Operations Senior VP of Technology Wendy Aylsworth, who is also president of SMPTE, brought up the dichotomy between content mobility and quality. “Everybody is focusing on content mobility — getting it streamed, downloaded to new devices — creating a plethora of formats,” she said. “At the opposite end of the spectrum, we’re being pushed hard to increase the quality in resolution, high dynamic range, high frame rate, 3D and immersive audio, and that all causes the file sizes to get larger.”

“At times I’m not sure our creation of all these formats and the automation is really helping us,” she continued. “As an ecosystem and entertainment industry, we need to lock off the old formats and keep moving forward to formats that make things smoother and better.”

Paramount Pictures VP of Archives Andrea Kalas spoke about the “pillars of digital preservation,” and “the need for the assets to be system accessible.” “Preservation and distribution assets are within the same infrastructure,” she said. “We don’t see a distinction between these opportunities.”

Xbox Design Senior Director Karon Weber develops content for the Xbox platform. “I cut my teeth editing quad on a CMX, so I consider myself old school,” she said to applause. “Today with the development of Xbox and other platforms for consumption, a new kind of assemblage is happening.”

Frederic Lumiere showed his work on “Normandy’s 100 Days,” the first 360-degree movie to be projected in 13K on nine screens. The movie was constructed out of archival footage and plays at the D-Day Museum in France. Director/Producer Randall P. Dark spoke of his pioneering work in HD, segueing into his current work in 3D and 4K.

Two more sessions related to content security ended the 2014 HPA Tech Retreat. Fortium Technologies CEO Mathew Gilliat-Smith described leaks at studios and how proxy files in editing and authoring present a security vulnerability, and ISE Founder Stephen Bono also spoke about cyber-threat mitigation.

The 2015 HPA Tech Retreat will take place February 9–13 at the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells, California.