Despite the difficulties faced by many in our industry at the moment, there is huge potential and many opportunities ahead for SMPTE, writes new president Hans Hoffmann. 

Hans Hoffman

Hans Hoffman

SMPTE technologies and standards support media creation, distribution, and display across virtually every type of outlet, platform, and viewing device.  

Whether it’s professionally produced content or user-generated stories, or something in the middle, SMPTE standards play a vital role in enabling delivery to the cinema, home theater, computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Moving forward, our foremost priority is to continue enabling interoperability as the media industry evolves. Through education and training, creation of specifications and standards, and greater inclusivity in all we do, we will support professionals as the industry moves away from hardware to software, embraces the cloud and IP, leverages AI and machine learning, extends remote workflows and media creation, and explores ever greater immersiveness and personalization for media consumers. 

We need to be swift in positioning the organization in this rapidly changing landscape, and we’ve already made substantive changes to our operations to enable greater agility and responsiveness to the requirements of creatives and technologists working in media-related industries. 

To ensure SMPTE offers the right value proposition to users across the expanding media ecosystem — studios and postproduction, broadcasting, esports, OTT, social media, and more — we have shifted to much more frequent and more focused meetings at the board level and begun the process of bringing on additional board members to serve as liaisons to specific industry sectors and geographic areas. We are increasing internal access to expertise while also positioning our experts to have a stronger voice across the industry. 

“In today’s world, organizations like SMPTE simply cannot and should not work in isolation. Our partnership with IBC is a prime example of a powerful and mutually beneficial collaboration.” 

By developing and fostering partnerships with other industry bodies, we can collaborate in achieving shared goals and move forward more quickly in delivering timely educational and technical resources required by the industry.  

In today’s world, organizations like SMPTE simply cannot and should not work in isolation. Our partnership with IBC is a prime example of a powerful and mutually beneficial collaboration. IBC and its annual conferences offer unique opportunities for SMPTE to educate and inform industry professionals about the technologies driving our industry forward. 

While augmenting our partnerships with other industry leaders, we’re strengthening SMPTE’s internal operations, closing any gaps between the board, the talented SMPTE staff members at our White Plains, N.Y., home office, and the many volunteers whose valuable work drives the Society. Our goal is to take full advantage of the board’s leadership and expertise, the institutional knowledge of the White Plains team, and the rich array of skills, knowledge, and experience provided by our volunteer base. Working together as part of a well-oiled machine, all of us can be more agile and effective in implementing key strategic initiatives. 

One of those initiatives is a new “Media in the Cloud” advisory group that we formed to explore work we can do in terms of both the educational and standards development. We are also building on the remarkable esports-focused program we delivered via our SMPTE 2020 conference. Through ongoing engagement with producers and technologists involved in esports, we’re becoming even more deeply engaged with this massively popular area of the media industry — and with the younger group of enthusiasts and professionals working in this space.  

With leadership from former SMPTE President Pat Griffis, we introduced the Creative Technology Advisory Council last year, a group that will help guide SMPTE in addressing not just technology, but the needs of the users who rely on media technology to create compelling stories and programming. We’ve also launched an initiative focused on the pro AV market. 

Across the cloud, esports, and pro AV, we feel we can bring tremendous value by enabling interoperability. SMPTE has always been focused on meeting specific requirements critical for the forward progress of the media industry, and this continues to be true as we support newer market sectors. Whether we offer education, training, workshops, conferences, specifications, or even proofs of concept, our strength lies in bringing industry partners together on a level playing field to move past any barriers to interoperability. 

Despite the challenges of the past year, we’re heartened by the continued support we’ve seen from individual and corporate SMPTE members, and our many volunteers. As we work to build the Society in terms of education, standards, and membership, we acknowledge the importance of embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We are dedicated to demonstrating our commitment to those values through our actions, and we are striving to grow our membership and programming so that the Society better reflects the people it serves. 

At the end of the day, our organizational culture says a lot about the Society, and we appreciate that it’s a meaningful factor for industry members — and especially the new generation of professionals — deciding to join and participate in SMPTE’s work. 

The transformation of our industry calls for a strong SMPTE, and we’re focused on making the most of our many strengths to support the industry through this unprecedented period of change and unforeseen challenges. 

As we move into 2021, we see exciting developments unfolding for SMPTE. We’ve spent the past few years implementing a forward-looking strategic business plan. As this year unfolds, we expect that all of our hard work will enable the Society to take a more proactive stance and a more nimble approach in addressing the changing requirements of the global media industry. 

Hans Hoffmann is SMPTE President and Head of Media Fundamentals and Production at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU)