SANTA MONICA, CA - The Hollywood Post Alliance (www.hpaonline.com), a new professional trade association, brought together over 350 representatives from post houses, studios, vendors, producers and press in a standing room only bash at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica.
"I was overwhelmed at the response," says HPA president and Laser Pacific executive VP Leon Silverman. "Even people who couldn't make it called and said, â€˜What can I do? I want to be involved. We really need this kind of an organization.'"
HPA was formed in the vacuum left when the Association of Imaging Technology and Sound (ITS) disbanded last year. The founding members completely re-envisioned the new organization by broadening the member base to include all aspects of production from concept through distribution. Their strategy says it will take everyone, representing all the crafts and disciplines, putting their heads together to tackle the tough issues facing the post production industry that is undergoing major transformation due to the impact of digital technology.
"Everyone was surprised by the broad cross section of people that showed up," says Eileen Kramer, HPA executive director. "There were studio executives, independent producers, hardware and software executives, editorial companies, accountants, lawyers, sound designers, composers, freelance colorists, effects artists... The ITS was built around a very specific part of the post production process. The HPA welcomes people in all phases of the creation of a media project."
Some of the major topics HPA will address in the coming months include: high definition production, digital cinema, digital intermediates, the FCC mandated conversion to digital television, revising business models, re-training, and tapping into the collective brain trust to share knowledge and thereby re-stabilize the industry as a whole.
Phil Squyres, senior VP of technical operations at Columbia TriStar television, says that the reason people should join HPA is that, "as digital capture becomes more widely adopted in all types of production - from feature films to television programming - the Hollywood post production industry will grow and change rapidly. I believe it will be critical for post operations - large and small - to work together to adopt new workflow processes centered around these new digital technologies. And I see HPA serving as a focal point for those efforts."
Ron Burdett, CEO of Sunset Digital, and a founding member of HPA, says the HPA concept is much more inclusive because the networks and the studios have post production groups. The technology community has always shared information, and it's important to do so because post production is a very collaborative business that is basically technology driven.
He also said that the fall 2002 television season will be known as the one where high definition production increased dramatically, particularly with new pilots. At his facility four shows, Frasier, Bram & Alice, In-Laws, and Girlfriends are being finished in high definition.
"The hot ticket right now is high definition, but that's just a plateau we're passing through," says Burdett. "The next new kid on the block is data, specifically digital intermediates."
Digital conversion is so critical right now that organizers from two major events in November were at the HPA event. The iHollywood forum (www.ihollywoodforum.com) will host "Digital Studio" a two-day conference on digital production. Zahava Stroud, coordinator of conference, was busy collecting business cards and chatting up the event.
Alan Young, president of HD Expo, was also there talking about his hi def event, HD Expo (www.hdexpo.net). "I came here," he says, "to connect with the post production community who are essentially an intrinsic part of guiding the entire production process."
In addition, HPA is hosting its own digital future event Post On The Edge on November 14th whimsically being held on the Wheel of Fortune stage at Sony Studios.
Some items on that agenda are how digital technology is shifting around the basic business model of post production revenue. Faster, inexpensive, computers and low-cost, powerfully-featured desktop applications now enable boutique shops to successfully compete against established, facility based post production houses. This creates enormous opportunities for smaller, independent producers and content creators. Yet this also creates a major headache for established facilities with enormous capital investments trying to generate income with existing equipment.
Also, rapidly changing technology obsolesces skill sets at a faster rate. HPA is creating HPA University together with the Entertainment Industry Development Corporation working with the California state employment training program. HPAU will offer subsidized training in various software applications such as Final Cut Pro, Avid, Maya, Softimage, as well as graphics design courses and other specialized technical training.
HPA is also organizing subcommittees around specific areas of specialization. Keep an eye on their Internet site for Web SIGs where all the Pandora colorists can exchange tips and tricks regardless of what post house they work for.
"Yes, these people are competitors in the daytime," says Silverman, "but the group recognizes that there is a bigger picture here, and that is we need to ensure the survival of this industry as a whole." The vision of HPA, he continues, is that the organization can help do that by encouraging people to freely share information in a non-partisan way.
So how does Silverman feel to be helming such an ambitious mandate? "I am gratified and terrified at the same time. It's an awesome responsibility to turn what we have started into what it promises to be."