As the industry sees some major shifts, SMPTE’s Barbara Lange looks at how media and entertainment companies are coping with these changes

Barbara lange

Barbara Lange: The indsutry is facing significant changes

As a Society of creative technologists, SMPTE has prospered countless technological shifts over a century. We’re now moving in some pretty bold new directions, and we can’t wait for you to see what’s in production at SMPTE.

It is certainly no secret that the world economy has undergone an unprecedented transformation this year. The global pandemic has changed how every company operates, which is likely to continue into the future. We want to acknowledge those impacted by the pandemic in so many ways, including furloughing or losing your jobs entirely. The SMPTE global community is here to help those in need, whether it is a relief on membership dues, discounts on educational offerings, or complimentary access to key standards.

The pandemic’s onset in early 2020 catalysed many shifts in our industry that were already underway. From production teams to the viewing consumer, all aspects of the value chain have been affected. The migration to streaming services was like a tsunami as consumers gobbled up content. This, as productions had to relearn how to produce content while following health and safety guidelines.

In a global entertainment industry built on ever-changing technology since its inception, we may be better positioned than most to see these changes as an opportunity, not a threat, identifying these emerging disruptions as an unexpected catalyst for innovation. Innovation not just in the technologies we use to create, manage, and deliver content but also in the way we operate our organisation.

In July, we announced a major change that we will deliver our annual technical conference as a remote experience on 10-12 November 2020. With the transition to digital networking in our everyday lives becoming the new normal, this necessity was still a dramatic shift. But what hasn’t changed is that we’re bringing together our truly passionate community of media professionals, technologists, and engineers, just in a new way. We’re still delivering a rich digital experience with an immersive look at the latest technologies and the ideas driving the industry forward.

This year’s conference theme is “Game On.” It spotlights exciting innovations in the booming world of esports, where players live stream globally, and audience members can interact with each other and the broadcast itself in realtime. Esports are truly international in scope. In some multinational events in Asia, they’ve appeared alongside traditional sports, and the International Olympic Committee has even discussed including them in future Games. Through a full day of programming, we’ll explore its unique requirements embracing a convergence of broadcasting, distribution, AI, mobile, and even blockchain technologies for asset management and monetisation, a combination integral to the profitable world of professional competitive gaming.

The event will welcome delegates into a meeting environment featuring the main conference hub with meeting rooms and theater space for the technical sessions. An exhibition hall with private meeting spaces will allow exhibiting companies to demonstrate the latest digital media technologies.

And we haven’t forgotten about SMPTE’s annual awards gala, which spotlights the industry’s vanguards and innovators from the theater’s virtual stage. This year’s many honorees include three Honorary Members, the Progress Medal being conferred posthumously on Technicolor founder Nathalie Kalmus, and 18 members being elevated to Fellow. We congratulate all of them!

This expanding global reach echoes SMPTE’s commitment to reach digital media professionals in every country. We’re delighted that the entire worldwide SMPTE community will have the opportunity to attend and participate in our signature event for the first time.

New and exciting efforts are happening in other parts of the SMPTE, too. These include new projects within the standards community around artificial intelligence in media together with the University of Southern California’s Entertainment Technology Center and a study group exploring required application protocol standards for IP-based media production. We are delighted to be working together with MESA on a Language Metadata Table that publishes machine-readable metadata. These efforts join the many standards projects underway, including SMPTE ST 2110 and ST 2059.

New webcasts on remote working, a new online course understanding ATSC 3.0, and our global SMPTE Sections holding virtual meetings all contribute to educating thousands of people every year around the world on the latest technology. In a world of “work from home,” we’re glad to deliver popular content virtually for more than a decade.

Big changes, even from the most disruptive sources, bring opportunities, and SMPTE is no different. Speaking of big changes – and bold moves – we’ve been doing more than a little work behind the scenes this year on several strategic initiatives that will have a lasting impact on SMPTE and the industry. There’s something dramatic “coming soon to a screen near you” that we can’t wait for you to see. So, stay tuned!

If you are interested in joining us, please go to to learn more.

Barbara H. Lange is SMPTE executive director