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A Sneak Peek at HPA Tech Retreat 2024


By Debra Kaufman

The HPA Tech Retreat is always a must-attend event and this year's - the 29th annual Retreat - is no exception. With robust signups already, there are still tickets available, but don't wait too long since attendance is capped at 700 people and the event always sells out. The HPA Tech Retreat 2024 will take place from February 18 to 22 at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage.

The first sign that this year's Tech Retreat would be particularly exciting was the wealth of compelling pitches to be part of the program. This year we got 132 pitches for sessions - and unfortunately there wasn't a dud among them, says Mark Schubin who has guided HPA Tech Retreat programming for over 20 years. Typically, a lot of the proposed sessions don't make the cut, but this year it was a tragedy to have to reject so many worthy ideas.

The first day, Monday, is the annual TR-X, which will focus on Extreme Production [link to recent article?] and, on Tuesday, the Super Session will unfold with its usual flair. Tuesday (through Thursday) launches the Breakfast Roundtables, another popular Tech Retreat platform. As of today, the Round Tables have been filled, with more than 75 people signed up to lead the conversations on a rich array of topics. In the Innovation Zone, attendees can enjoy demos and conversations with 60 curated technology companies.

For the main conference portion of the Tech Retreat, two major themes dominate: Artificial Intelligence and the MovieLabs 2030 Update. On Wednesday, the AI sessions will take a deep dive into the technology's role in revolutionizing media production from conceptualization to final cut. Schubin reported that HPA President Seth Hallen took on the task of programming the AI track of the main program, which consists of three sections, and a final period for discussion and Q&A.

The first section on Setting the Stage for AI includes presentations by EdenBase Daniel Doll-Steinberg and Entertainment Technology Center's Yves Bergquist and DPP's Mark Harrison's talk on AI for Media: What Does Good Look Like? . The second session, on AI and Creativity, with a look at the future of cinematic storytelling, starts with Barbara Frost Grant and Paramount's Tony Guarino expounding on the studio perspective of AI and content creation. Also in this session,'s Christian Canterell talks on using GenAI as a screenwriting partner and preproduction assistant, and Curious Refuge's Caleb Ward will address the business angle of a successful future state for AI tools and AI content. Third, for AI in the Workflow, Avid's David Colantuoni will focus on enhancing creative decisions with AI generated content recommendations; Fraunhofer-Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS Siegfried F el will discuss multi-language generation of movie content, and Cuebric's Pinar Seyhan Demirdag will demystify AI in the supply chain.

Thursday morning focused on the update of MovieLabs 2030, with MovieLabs' Mark Turner's report on where we are on the path to 2030. Avid's Richard Duke will talk about bringing the studio in the cloud' to fruition. Next, Turner, with Perfect Memory's Guillaume Rachez will talk about implementing the MovieLabs Ontology for Media Creation - How and Why, and, finally, with Imagica Entertainment Media Services, Akii Seino, Turner will talk about workflows based on 2030 Vision.

Metadata mania will be the central theme of the next set of 2030 sessions, beginning with MovieLabs' Jim Helman enumerating the challenges in the current landscape. The Rebel Fleet's Mike Urban will describe how his company used MovieLabs OMC for metadata on Season 2 of Our Flag Means Death. With Google's Toby Scales and Paramount Global's Dalia Spingarn, Helman will discuss OpenMetadataIO, an open standards initiative. The last MovieLabs 2030 theme will focus on interoperability, a key to the creative benefits of the 2030 Vision, with a talk by Helman who will then also moderate a panel.

Thursday afternoon, the Tech Retreat continues with exploration of a diverse range of topics. Schubin points out two presentations that demonstrate the scope of the Tech Retreat's programming. Adobe chief technology officer of digital media Ely Greenfield will address responsible innovation in the Age of generative AI, looking at how to identify deepfakes via content provenance. Fielding Graduate University doctoral candidate Holly Devon will untwist the rope of character identification. She's done the research on what works and what doesn't to get audiences to identify with characters, says Schubin.

Among the many other presentations is the annual panel moderated by the International Cinematographers Guild's Michael Chambliss, this time with Small HD's Greg Smokler. Other topics include will include what to expect at CES 2024; NeRFs, sound, quantum dots and color imaging with Charles Poynton, a presentation from the Academy Software Foundation on open source software and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences on the new developer release of ACES 2.0

It's shaping up to be a banner year for HPA Tech Retreat; great speakers (as usual) and topics that are incredibly important to those who work in media and entertainment.
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