HITS Spring: M&E’s Top Technology Minds Take the Stage

Twenty breakout sessions, three keynote presentations, two main stages of insights from Hollywood’s top minds, and actor, comedian and producer Howie Mandel unveiling revolutionary cinema technology.

The May 12 Hollywood Innovation and Transformation Summit (HITS) Spring event has it all, as hundreds of industry players gather to hear from media and entertainment’s CIOs and top technology experts, covering everything from virtualised productions to how the moviegoing experience is being reimagined.

Presented by IBM Security, the event featuring six tracks of breakout sessions, including security and work-from-home, consumers and data, remote production and scale, platforms and ops, workflow and engagement innovation, and SASE and interconnect.

Here’s a look at what to expect during the event, kicking off at 9 a.m. PT, beginning with a choice between two main stages of programming, “Innovation” and “Transformation.”

Innovation Stage

• Following conference welcome remarks by Chinar Patel, director of IBM Security, Jeff Crume, distinguished engineer, CTO of the Americas for IBM Security, and an IBM master inventor will cover all things zero trust in the presentation “Securing Everything – An Introduction to Zero Trust.”

• “‘Where’s the Beef?’ ETC Digs Deep into the Meat of Virtual Production” sees a collection of experts from the Entertainment Technology Centre at the University of Southern California ([email protected]) discuss the key aspects and considerations around virtual production and cloud workflows.

• Noah Kadner, senior writer for Epic Games and Unreal Engine, will deliver the very timely keynote address “Writing the Playbook on Virtual Production.” Kadner literally wrote the book (the “Virtual Production Field Guide”) on the topic for Epic Games in 2019, and just released a follow-up volume in April, following a year that proved how ahead of the virtual production game he actually was.

• Shelton Mercer, founder and chairman of Mercer Innovation, will give attendees a front-row view into some of the principles and key initiatives from his firm that merge invention, equity, incubation and commercialisation, to launch and scale new companies and collaborations, in the presentation “Virtuous Innovation: How Innovation Ecosystems Enhance Corporate Outcomes.”

• “The New Normal: A Post-COVID Content Ecosystem Today, Tomorrow, Forever” features Carol Hanley, co-president of Whip Media, Richard Brookbanks, VP, financial controller for The Walt Disney Co., and Will Gurman, VP of global content partnerships for PlutoTV, as they discuss how the industry is adapting to today’s new normal and how to prepare for the future with an advantageous content strategy plan;

• Yves Bergquist, director of the AI and Neuroscience in Media Project at the Entertainment Technology Centre at USC ([email protected]) looks at building a comprehensive knowledge engine to help media and entertainment companies develop deep, “genomics”-type insights into how their content resonates with audiences, in the presentation “Navigating the New Norm of Box Office & Engagement.”

• Matt Turner, chair of MESA’s Applied Data Working Group, and Mary Yurkovic, director of Smart Content for MESA, lead the discussion “Driving Delivery of Global OTT” with Sharon Elliott, head of global operations development for Amazon Studios, and David Klee, VP of strategic media solutions for A+E Networks, as they provide insight into how we can work the digital supply chain more effectively towards our industry’s direct to consumer future.

• The closing keynote of the Innovation Stage — “Disruptive by Design – Design Thinking’s Approach to Global Problem-Solving” — comes via Jeff Julian, founder of Lab5. His presentation will address how creative strategies can impact organisational breakdowns and will provide insights to overcome communication barriers and cross-platform integration. Julian will tackle the ever-growing disconnect between creative lateral thinking and the deep dive of basic research, by discussing future design thinking, and how to best prepare for the exponential acceleration of a t-shaped world in a future dominated by artificial intelligence.

• Actor, comedian and producer Howie Mandel will take the stage to introduce new technology that reimagines the moviegoing experience … and to reintroduce Bobby, his iconic character from the Emmy Award-nominated animated series “Bobby’s World.” Mandel will take part in the panel discussion “Reimagining the Moviegoing Experience” with Joel Sloss, senior program manager for Microsoft, and Brent Young, president and creative director for Super78 Studios, as they put on a special interactive unveiling using Magic Screen, which aims to allow audiences to talk directly to characters on screen, and is a joint venture between Mandel’s production company Alevy Productions and Los Angeles-based Super 78.

Transformation Stage

• The chairs of the Women in Technology Hollywood’s (WiTH) new Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging Committee will take the stage to discuss how transparency in an organisation can result in diverse leadership, in the panel “How Transparency Ensures DEI, Accessibility & Belonging in Leadership.”

• Brajesh Jha, global head of media and entertainment for Genpact, shares how having the right operating model with a mature data ecosystem is becoming central to delivering on businesses’ information needs and to drive operational agility, in the presentation “Driving Operational Agility with a Virtual Workforce.”

• In the keynote address “Developing Teams, Services and Customers at Scale,” Bill Wooditch, motivational speaker, CEO, entrepreneur, sales and leadership coach, and author will bring his insights into what environment IT leaders must create in order to recruit, foster and grow the leaders of tomorrow.

• Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH) will offer up ideas on how the M&E industry can be improved via community projects and volunteering, with the panel “Transforming Our Industry Through Community & Volunteerism” seeing a collection of WiTH leaders share how it has produced more than 20 virtual events in the past year, transforming its engaged community via committee-based activities around community building, professional development, mentoring, networking and more.

• Will Hickie, data science architect for Irdeto, will tout the wonders of artificial intelligence and all its applications, and warn us that we’re not doing nearly enough to secure AI, with algorithms that can be stolen and leveraged for nefarious purposes, in the presentation “Securing Artificial Intelligence.”

• “Experience Ecosystem – Where Virtual breathes Life into Real(ity)” will see Sabyasachi “Saby” Mitra, global head of strategic operating model transformation industry and strategic accounts lead for Tata Consultancy Services, share how, in today’s hyperconnected, personalised and without-borders world, lines have disappeared between the real and virtual.

• “Wide, Wide World of Content: Scaling to Ubiquity” — will be moderated by Bob Gold (Bob Gold & Associates), and will feature Vikrant Mathur (Future Today), Max Einhorn, SVP of Acquisitions & Co-Productions at FilmRise and Principal Media CEO Gary Rosenson.

• “Wrangling Ones and Zeros: The Wild, Wild West of Virtualized Production” will feature Joachim “JZ” Zell with the Hollywood Professional Association (HPA), highlighting emerging technologies and solutions that are virtualising critical workflows across production.

• Jim Whelehan, senior account executive for M&E at MicroStrategy, and Sahand Sepehrnia, executive director of content strategy and analysis for The Walt Disney Co., will offer an inside look at how ABC Owned TV Stations and MicroStrategy are innovating the way data is enabling real-time news decisions, in the presentation “Breaking (Down) the News: A New Evolution in Real-Time Data Empowerment.”

Breakout sessions

From 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. PT, HITS Spring attendees will have six breakout tracks to choose from, featuring industry experts sharing innovative ideas, processes, or perspectives in an interactive and intimate way with the audience.

Track 1: Security and Work-From-Home

• “Securing your Journey to Hybrid Multi-Cloud” with Amanda Sherman, IBM Security

• “Oracle + Richey May: The Year Hollywood Got Back to Work” with JT Gaietto, Richey May Technology Solutions, and Olivier Jorda, Oracle

• “Ahab and the Great Whale Phish” with Chris Taylor, Media & Entertainment Information Sharing & Analysis Centre (ME-ISAC)

• “Don’t Let a Crisis Spoil Your Drama – Experience an Incident Response App at Work” with Mathew Gilliat-Smith and Chris Johnson, Convergent Risks

Track 2: Consumers and Data

• “Use Consumer Data to Predict Content Success: What’s Your Demand Score?” with Eric Steinberg, Whip Media

• “As The World Churns: Best Practices in Subscriber Retention” with Siva Natarajan, Salesforce

• “Engaging Your Consumers & Users in a Crowded Communication Landscape” with Joe Jorczak, Zendesk

• “Unlocking the Power of Real-Time Data in Today’s News Environment” with Michael Stirk, ABC Owned TV Stations, and Jim Whelehan, MicroStrategy

Track 3: Remote Production and Scale

• “More for the Money: How to Maximise IT Investments and Avoid Expensive Makeovers” with Rachel Thomas and Ani Sarkar, Genpact

• “Remote Production Should be Easier. It can Be” with Richie Murray and Dennis Radeke, LucidLink, and Jeff Olm, Eclipse Tech

• “Remote Production Challenges and Best Practices – Script to Screen” with Don Terry, 5th Kind, Sandra De Silva De La Torre, cinematographer and producer, and Jack Wenzinger, Amazon Web Services

• “Metal and More: Lessons Learned from Super League & Equinix Metal to Maximise Digital Performance” with Benjamin Jenkins, Equinix

Track 4: Platforms and Ops

• “Digital Twin-based Experimentation in the Media & Entertainment Industry” with Narendran Sivakumar (Naren), Tata Consultancy Services

• “EluvioLIVE: A Novel Streaming & Ticketing Platform Distributed Directly from Artists & Publishers” with Michelle Munson, Eluvio

• “AI Ethics in Media: Where We Are, and… Where We’re Going” with Yves Bergquist, Entertainment Technology Center at USC ([email protected])

Track 5: Workflow & Engagement Innovation

• “Smarter Workflow to Reduce Catch-Up Costs” with Maxim Shevchenko, Irdeto

• “Turbocharging EIDR Workflows, Today and into the Future” with Richard Kroon, EIDR, and Robin Tucker, Meta Data Systems

• “High Latency Streaming: Do Viewers Care?” with Brian Ring, FutureOfTV.Live

• “How Screenrights Supports Content Creators by Scaling to Accurately Match Usage Records” with Emma Madison, Screenrights, and Nicole Wong, Tamr

Track 6: SASE and Interconnect

• “Gettin’ Sassy about SASE!” with Adam Slohn, Dark Fiber Production Technology, Mark Peay, SASE (Converged SD-WAN + Security-as-a-Services), evangelist, Cato Networks, Michael McGrory, Cloudflare, and David Nuti, Open Systems.

HITS Spring is programmed under the guidance of the content advisors of the Hollywood IT Society, and is produced by MESA and the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA) and the Smart Content Council.

The event is presented by IBM Security with sponsorship by Genpact, Irdeto, Tata Consultancy Services, Convergent Risks, Equinix, MicroStrategy, Microsoft Azure, Richey May Technology Solutions, Tamr, Whip Media, Eluvio, 5th Kind, LucidLink, Salesforce, Signiant, Zendesk, EIDR, PacketFabric and the Trusted Partner Network.

As a special offer to MESA readership, we have a complimentary invitation to HITS Spring via this link.

To activate a HITS Spring sponsorship contact Evie Silvers at [email protected], or Garrett Finley at [email protected]


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