The term of a SMPTE Technology Committee chair position is 2 years, with 2 terms possible, making it a total of 4 years that one can hold this position. Dave Schnuelle is about to complete his fourth year as chair of 21DC, the Technology Committee for Digital Cinema. Dave is the third chairperson for SMPTE’s digital cinema effort, but only the first to come from the manufacturing sector. While his predecessors were focused on getting things done in time to begin the rollout, Dave took time to make sure that things were done right. His term was characterized by his emphasis on road-worthiness. Where the prior protocol was to design, publish, and then try it out in the field, Dave strove to put things to actual test before anything was published.
Some of the newfound diligence in digital cinema standards making has been brought about by the embarrassment caused by this committee in ISO. While SMPTE defines itself to be an international organization, not all countries agree. For France to recognize SMPTE’s digital cinema work, for example, SMPTE’s standards must be approved as ISO documents. ISO, however, only meets every 3 years to review SMPTE’s work, while the digital cinema effort meets 4 times a year. As problems are discovered and SMPTE moves to improve its work, ISO falls further behind. The answer, of course, is to spend more time polishing the work in SMPTE before allowing it to be published.
Over 30 standards were created or revised over the past 4 years. Looking forward, we should see less work towards the creation of new standards, and more work take place on the management and administration side, as mandatory 5 year review cycles come up. The choice of who gets the honor of leading this effort is the big question. Such decisions are made behind closed doors, by the executive members of the SMPTE standards effort. Leading that decision will be Hans Hoffmann, the new SMPTE Engineering Vice President. The closed nature of the decision is necessary to eliminate lobbying efforts for candidates. Even so, it would only make sense for John Hurst of Cinecert to be appointed to the chair position. We’ll soon learn when the 21DC Technology Committee next meets on December 7.