There’s a quiet gathering in Palm Springs every February. Many of the post-production industry’s leading luminaries, along with a gaggle of production folks, hangers-on, and ne’er-do-wells (including your correspondent) assemble for the Hollywood Post Alliance’s Tech Retreat, three and a half days of discussion about where the industry is and where it’s going.
The Tech Retreat inverts the normal order of business for industry events. Most such gatherings, such as NAB and IBC, are massive trade shows with conference sessions tacked on. The Tech Retreat is first and foremost a conference, with presentations by academics, manufacturers, and folks in the trenches. There is also demo room for showing off pretty new toys, but it’s not a commercial demo room: the gear that’s shown is bleeding-edge stuff that’s not yet quite ready for prime time. Last year, for example, we saw the Arri Alexa and the Panasonic 3DA1 before they were fully baked.
In fairness, the SMPTE conferences have a similar talk-first, toys-second emphasis. But two things set the Tech Retreat apart:
• The Tech Retreat is driven as much by end users (editors, compositors, studio heads) as it is by vendors. Sure, there’s plenty of talk about new tech, but it’s balanced by field reports from editors, TV station engineers, DITs, videographers and cinematographers, and theater owners. There are as many reports about practical workflows, problems and solutions, and technological gotchas as there are presos on shiny new tech. It’s this grounded, practical emphasis that makes the Tech Retreat the place to suss out what’s really happening.
• Mark Schubin. He keeps the show on schedule, ensures a suitably noncommercial focus (vendors offering thinly-veiled marketing presos simply aren’t welcome), and places the event in context by throwing out little nuggets of info from his exhaustive mental repository of technical trivia and historical arcana.
I’ll be reporting from the Tech Retreat this week. Depending on the quality of ‘net access at my hotel, you may see a full writeup with pix each night, starting Tuesday; a terse text-only summary with amusing malapropisms (courtesy of my iPad’s autocorrection feature) and a follow-up with pix at the end of the week; or nothing at all until next weekend. In the meantime, here’s coverage from 2009 and 2010.
Disclaimer: I’m attending the HPA Tech Retreat on a press pass, which saves me the registration fee. I’m paying for my own transport, meals, and hotel. No material connection exists between myself and the Hollywood Post Alliance; aside from the press pass, HPA has not influenced me with any compensation to encourage favorable coverage.
The HPA logo and motto were borrowed from the HPA website. The HPA is not responsible for my graphical additions.