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HPA retreat a success

For seven years, industry technology heavyweights have gathered in Palm Springs, Calif., for an annual retreat. This year's event, in late February, drew a larger audience than last year's, bucking the trend of recent industry events.

Originally sponsored by the now-defunct Association of Imaging Technology and Sound, it is now hosted by the Hollywood Post Alliance.

Variable-frame-rate HDTV video production was a highlight, with Boxx Technologies, DVS, Fox and Panasonic demonstrating systems. Fox shot the event's softball game and played it back in HDTV slow motion. Producer/director Pierre de Lespinois showed special-effects footage he said he wouldn't have been able to afford without the new technology.

The National Center for Accessible Media demonstrated problems with picture-only program guides and DVD menus that can exclude 12 million visually impaired American viewers and their families. According to NCAM, there are also 24 million hearing-impaired viewers.

ATSC noted that the timetable for a standard for enhanced broadcast DTV reception has been pushed back and not all systems are being tested. The networks also provided updates, with CBS and The WB describing their DTV distribution technologies related to ancillary data.

CBS Vice President of Engineering and Technology Bob Seidel explained how SMPTE standard 334 handles metadata. Initial efforts in vertical ancillary data, he said, will center on captioning, content advisory, professional audio metadata (for 5.1 surround) and digital TV application software environment (DASE). Potential uses for interactive data include targeted advertising and electronic coupons.