Tag Archives: Leon Silverman

Leon Silverman steps down, Seth Hallen named new HPA president

In a crowded conference room in Indian Wells, California, during the HPA Tech Retreat, HPA founding president Leon Silverman literally handed the baton to long-time board member Seth Hallen. The organization has also taken on a new name, the Hollywood Professional Association. More on that later.

Hallen, who joined the HPA board in 2007, is SVP of Global Creative Services at Sony DADC New Media Solutions. Silverman, who helped found the organization, will continue to serve on the board of directors in the newly created role of past president.

“It is a distinct honor to continue the important work that Leon has undertaken for this organization, and I am clearly dedicated to making the next phase of HPA a great one,” said Hallen. “Enabling our industry to evolve by fueling our community with ideas, opportunity and recognition remains our goal. I look forward to working with our incredibly talented and dedicated board and continuing our collaboration with our colleagues at SMPTE, and the staff, volunteers and community that are the heart and soul of HPA, as we build upon the work of the past 14 years and look toward the future.”

The HPA, which is now part of SMPTE, also announced newly elected board members, including Craig German, SVP Studio Post at NBCUniversal Media; Jenni McCormick, executive director of American Cinema Editors (ACE); and Chuck Parker, CEO of Sohonet. Newly elected board member Bill Roberts, CFO of Panavision, will assume treasurer responsibilities as Phil Squyres steps down from the post he has held since HPA’s founding. Squyres will remain on the board.

Wendy Aylsworth, past president of SMPTE, was named SMPTE representative. Barbara Lange serves as executive director of SMPTE and HPA. The new Board members join Mark Chiolis, Carolyn Giardina, Vincent Maza, Kathleen Milnes, Loren Nielsen and VP Jerry Pierce on the HPA board.

In commenting on the new HPA name, executive director Lange noted, “The nature of the work and responsibilities that our community is engaged in has changed, and will continue to change. After carefully exploring how to address this growth, it became clear that Professional more accurately and inclusively identifies the creative talent, content holders and global infrastructure of services, as well as emerging processes and platforms. As an organization, we are dedicated to seeing beyond the horizon to the wider future, and bringing a wide array of individuals and companies into the organization. Our new name and identity makes that statement.”

A chat with post production veteran Leon Silverman

This industry mainstay will be receiving the HPA Lifetime Achievement Award this month.

By Randi Altman

Leon Silverman is an industry icon. He’s GM of the Digital Studio at Walt Disney Studios and president of the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA), the organization that is presenting him with its Lifetime Achievement Award on November 12.

I’ve known Leon for a very long time, meeting him for the first time when he was a senior executive of LaserPacific. He was then, and still remains, a genuinely good guy who has done a lot to help create a feeling of community within an industry filled with competitive businesses. He has also been a big supporter of me personally, for which I will always be grateful.

Anyway, not long before the late October SMPTE Conference in Hollywood, Leon was kind enough to talk to me about the Lifetime Achievement Award, the SMPTE and HPA growing partnership and the industry in general.

Leon will be accepting the HPA Lifetime Achievement Award on November 12.

Leon will be accepting the HPA Lifetime Achievement Award on November 12.

When I asked him how it felt to be chosen for this honor, he was humble, saying, “It’s flattering, embarrassing, and it means a lot to me. It reminds me of those who have helped, mentored me and taught me in my life and career — those who helped me along the path. What it’s really about is how the industry has made transitions, and how the recognition of me is really the recognition of a lot of people who contributed to transformative change in our industry.”

Leon’s passion for the media and entertainment business started early — he says ever since he could remember. In school he was the projectionist and worked at the high school radio station. He was also known to hop the train into downtown Chicago and stare into the window at the WLS radio station and watch them broadcast. He thought it was “the most interesting thing in the world.” So imagine how he felt after taking a tour of CBS Television with his friend’s dad. He was hooked.

Next was a degree in telecommunications and a ticket to Hollywood. “I moved from Chicago to LA with $1,000 in my pocket, thinking I was rich, to work at Compact Video, although they didn’t know it.”

Yup, he moved across country for the possibility of getting a job at Compact Video. Leon had seen the company’s brochure, with pictures of “cool” production vehicles and a helicopter and a Lear jet, all adorned with the Compact logo. “I really wanted to work there, so I wrote a letter to founder Robert Seidenglanz. That led to an interview with Newt Bellis, but there was not a job available at that time, so I ended up getting a number of temporary and weird jobs while I was waiting for Compact Video.

After four months of knocking on Compact’s door, he was allowed in… working in their shipping and receiving department, and doing whatever was asked of him. It was there he stayed until, one day, an ad for a sales trainee at Compact Video appeared in the trades.

“That was my job,” he says, explaining that he knocked on the door of the VP of marketing & sales office until he gave him a chance. Within four and a half years, Leon was head of marketing and sales at Compact. His dream was coming true. It was during that time he met mentors who played a big role in his life, such as Emory Cohen and Steve Schifrin.

Listen up kids: determination and a dream really can play a role in your dream job.

The award for Best in Show at the recent SMPTE HPA Film Festival. Leon Silverman congratulates the winners along with Bob Seidel, SMPTE.

The award for Best in Show at the recent SMPTE HPA Film Festival. Leon Silverman congratulates the winners along with Bob Seidel, president of SMPTE.

Ok, now let’s turn to the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA), which Leon helped found and is now a part of SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture Engineers).

It seems you have always been interested in encouraging a spirit of community within the industry. Can you talk about the genesis of the HPA, and how you’ve seen it grow?
HPA wasn’t a beginning, it was a continuation of a long effort of many people in this community who were in trade associations that focused on post — this goes back to the late ‘70s/early ‘80s. The HPA has its roots in the Southern California chapter of the ITS (International Teleproduction Society), which had a very active board of directors.

One of the great accomplishments was the ITS technology retreat, which HPA inherited (the yearly HPA Tech Retreat takes place in Palm Springs, California). They also got involved in California politics, which resulted in the changing of the tax laws to eliminate the state sales tax on post equipment. This is still in effect to today, as well as the reassessing of how property tax was assessed on post equipment.

When the headquarters of ITS disbanded in the early 2000s, the Southern California chapter felt there was more to do. That was the birth of HPA. There are differences — the ITS was only for those working in the video facility business and the HPA has a broader tent. As a tool manufacturer, you could sponsor the ITS, but you couldn’t sit at the table. The HPA was about a larger community of, not just competitors in the facility business, but collaborators across the entire content creation ecosystem.

Leon Silverman and Barbara Lange.

Leon Silverman and Barbara Lange.

What about your relationship with SMPTE?
As SMPTE and HPA get together, HPA becomes the forum for the discussion of issues that impact the industry, and SMPTE becomes the forum for taking some of those ideas and making them into standards… more importantly broadening our perspective from the local Hollywood base to one that is internationally focused as well.

Barbara Lange (executive director of SMPTE) likes to talk about SMPTE as the 100-year-old startup. So as we start this really new chapter, in which SMPTE celebrates 100 years, and as HPA finds its way within SMPTE. We have a huge opportunity to create a broader view of the content creation ecosystem and how to impact both the discussions and the issues that are really challenging in this digital age — and the real task of how we begin the integration of digital technology in more standardized approaches and, in fact, within industry standards.

There is currently much talk of HDR within the industry. What does the future hold?
The industry has always gravitated towards ways to present our stories in a higher quality and in more compelling ways. Developments like immersive audio and higher brightness projectors that can display contrast greater than film — or colors that we haven’t seen before — allow for a creative pallet that filmmakers are excited about using. Those who create and distribute content are excited about bringing a superior consumer experience to people who enjoy our content.

HDR and immersive audio are new content creation tools that we will really learn the impact of as the creative community puts their own hands and creative minds around how this technology could be deployed in service of a story. Personally, I’m very excited in the things that I’ve seen in films like Tomorrowland and Inside Out. Seeing Inside Out in Dolby Cinema’s EDR was a revelation. I think the industry will work together, as it always has, to understand the impact of how we increasingly create higher-quality products and how best to ensure that this quality flows into our archives.

The HPA Awards, happening in early November in LA, turn 10 years old this year. Congratulations.
The HPA, and the generation that I represent, helped to create this transition from a world of filmed cinema to this digital world, hopefully creating a future that’s worthy of its past. That’s what we’re really celebrating. Over the last 20 or 30 years, we have moved our industry to a place where it’s not really just about the tools or new distribution entities, it’s about a community that now routinely understands how to work together to take advantage of transformative change and how to take this industry into the future.

Part of what our generation did, part of what we did at Pacific Video and LaserPacific, and the idea behind Emory Cohen’s vision of the Electronic Laboratory, was to show how to take the film model and bring that into the electronic and digital age. We’re now done using the past as a future model, because I don’t think there’s a blueprint for the industry today, and I think that’s very exciting, but over the process of the last 30 years we’ve created an industry that understands how to talk to each other, work together. It’s competitors and colleagues — from all aspects of the industry — working together to create this industry’s future.

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Leon Silverman will accept his HPA Lifetime Achievement Award on November 12 during the HPA Awards at the Skirball Cultural Center.

HPA Tech Retreat unveils updated sessions schedule

The Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA) has announced the final schedule for the 2015 HPA Tech Retreat, which is happening February 9-13 in Indian Wells, California. It’s the yearly gathering in the desert of where post pros and engineers talk technology and business strategy.

“As we enter our 21st year, the Tech Retreat continues to be one of those events you can’t afford to miss. The mix of topics, technology and top industry minds makes this event a yearly check-in with industry gurus and deep thinkers that seem to gather at the HPA every year in the desert,” says HPA president Leon Silverman. “Making the pilgrimage to the HPA Tech Retreat seems to provide so many of us with a check on the pulse of the entire industry.”

Here is a look as some of the speakers and sessions, but for a complete 2015 HPA Tech Retreat schedule click here. There are over 45 sessions presented during the course of the Retreat.

Highlights include:
•    The HPA Supersession – A full day of sessions focused on a shifting industry. Just when we thought we had mastered the transition to the “digital age,” we’re seeing new and fundamental shifts.
•    Keynote – Not Your Father’s Post
•    Cyber and Content Security: Time for a Strategy Change
•    Sensory Stimulation
•    Next-Generation of Cinema: New Technologies and Techniques: What they Mean for Filmmakers
•    Understanding the New Acquisition
•    From Snowflakes to Standards: Maintaining Creative Intent in Evolutionary Times
•    Drones for Dummies
•    The Annual Broadcasters Update
•    Personalized and Immersive Sound
•    DDP and IMF
•    The Cloud Demystified
•    Utilizing Fingerprinting Technology for Shot Matching
•    Enhancing the Creative Palette
•    Automatic Content Recognition

Among nearly 100 speakers, the lineup includes:
•    Wendy Aylsworth, Warner Bros.
•    Bill Bennett, ASC
•    Stephen Beres, HBO
•    Sara-Duran Singer, Netflix
•    John Fithian, National Association of Theater Owners
•    Barbara Lange, SMPTE
•    Carolina Lavatelli, Internet of Trust
•    Pete Ludé, Real D
•    Theresa Miller, Lionsgate
•    Loren Nielsen, Entertainment Technology Consultants
•    Daryn Okada, ASC
•    Vikram Phatak, NSS Labs
•    Bob Seidel, CBS
•    Skip Pizzi, NAB
•    Andy Shenkler, Sony DADC New Media Solutions
•    Leon Silverman, HPA
•    Masayuki Sugawara, NHK
•    Larry Thorpe, Canon
•    Mario Vecchi, PBS
•    Erik Weaver, Entertainment Technology Center at USC

In addition to the sessions there is a demo room where attendees could check out the latest gear. Plus the daily breakfast roundtables are popular as well. Check out this one from last year being run by Steven Poster, ASC.

Registration for the HPA Tech Retreat is strongly recommended. The Tech Retreat is a limited attendance event and seating is approaching capacity and expected to sell out. It is still possible to register, but pre-conference registration closes Monday, February 2, 2014, after which time only onsite registrations will be accepted, and those registrations are space-permitting. Full-conference as well as one-day registrations are available. Registration includes conference sessions, breakfast roundtables, lunch, demo room and social events.

Where warmth, technology meet: HPA offers up Tech Retreat schedule

The yearly pilgrimage to the desert for engineers and post pros, the HPA Tech Retreat, is taking place in Indian Wells, California, from February 9-13.

There will be sessions on technology and trends, a small exhibit floor, breakfast roundtables where small groups get to focus on a particular topic or tech, and mingling… lots of mingling. And for those of you coming from colder climates, there will be sunshine and warmth. Not a frozen pile of snow in sight.

Here are some highlights of the Retreat, but click here for a full schedule:

Monday, February 9
Preregistration. Physics, Optics, and Electronics of Image Sensors is a pre-retreat course offered by Charles Poynton.

Tuesday, February 10
The day-long HPA Supersession kicks off the Tech Retreat with Shift Happens: Not Your Father’s Post, led by Leon Silverman with Michael Cioni. Even as some stability returns, fundamental changes continue in the creation, finishing and distribution of content. The Supersession takes a thoughtful look at these changes and ultimately offers insight about how to be prepared for them.

After the Supersession, the Demo Room opens its doors with a cocktail reception.

Wednesday, February 11
The highly anticipated annual Broadcasters Panel returns, as well as sessions including a CES Review; A Year in Review from Mark Schubin, From Smartphones to Cinema; Extended Color Gamuts; Contemplating the Expanding Canvas with Bill Bennett, ASC alongside other leading cinematographers; the Future of Cinema and many others.

Thursday, February 12
Sessions focused on topics as diverse as Maintaining Creative Intent; The Cloud Demystified; Role of Nonlinear Coding of the Television Image from NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories; IP or not IP; and Drones for Dummies are among the many offerings in a day filled with panels and presentations.

Friday, February 13
As the week draws to a close, compelling presentations continue with Lightfield Capture and Post Update with Siegfried Foessel; Enhancing the Creative Palette While Preserving Intent from Camera to Consumer; the SMPTE Update; and more. The day closes up with a post-HPA Tech Retreat session, How The Great Depression Led to Cloud Computing.

“The Tech Retreat is not just a conference where the latest, greatest, most important and interesting technology and topics are displayed, presented, discussed, debated and sometimes even refuted — it is the closest thing to adult geek summer camp (held in the Palm Springs winter) that one can imagine,” says Leon Silverman, president of the HPA. “Come for the topics, stay for the people who can change your life. For the past 21 years, the Tech Retreat has truly been a place to meet the movers and the shakers right before they make their moves.”

SMPTE and HPA to merge officially in 2015

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), has announced plans for a new partnership with the Hollywood Post Alliance (HPA). The partnership will begin with SMPTE providing administrative support to HPA, and it is expected to culminate in the merger of the two organizations by May 2015.

“HPA is known not only for its unique brand identity, but also for facilitating open dialog among all disciplines in the entertainment industry,” said Wendy Aylsworth, president of SMPTE . “Complementing SMPTE’s work in standards and education, these qualities will enrich the experience of SMPTE members worldwide, giving them the opportunity to engage in more frequent dialogue with nontechnical and supporting industry professionals. For these and many other reasons, we look forward to extending the HPA brand to a broader global audience.”

The partnership unites two technical organizations serving the media and entertainment business. It gives both SMPTE and HPA the opportunity to extend their reach and expand their membership while better serving the whole industry — from the engineering and technical professionals to the creative community.

“With this partnership, HPA and SMPTE strengthen our collaborative work in addressing how our communities plan for the future of technology and the creative process,” said Leon Silverman, HPA board president. “For HPA, a closer relationship with SMPTE is also valuable in that it will enable our organization to extend the reach of our content and our work to a global audience beyond Hollywood.”

HPA Tech Retreat blog: 4K-ready content, fast production with dual content cameras

By Tom Coughlin

Indian Wells, California — Although current content distribution is at HD, it is clear that 4K distribution will be commonplace in just a few years. As a result, many content producers are capturing content in both HD formats and 4K formats.

As might be expected, this increases the total data rate needed to capture this dual format content as well as the resulting storage capacity requirements. The actual size of the total content package depends upon the 4K content format.

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