Los Angeles, CA (September 23, 2016)—The four-day AES Convention returns to Los Angeles September 29-October 1 with a program dense with special tracks, special events, paper sessions, engineering briefs, tutorials, workshops, student and career development events, historical talks and, of course, technical council and standards committee working group meetings. This year also features the inaugural AES International Conference on Audio for Virtual and Augmented Reality, a two-day conference, beginning September 30, with companion workshops, tutorials and manufacturers’ expo that will be co-located with the 141st AES Convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center’s West Hall.
With such a busy program, it’s hard to pick a few highlights. The following recommendations are therefore just a representative sample of the events taking place away from the exhibition floor. By the way, the AES has made an app, for iOS and Android, available via its web site that provides tools to enhance the event experience, including a scheduler.
This year, the AES gives more than a nod to the seemingly ever-growing electronic music segment of the business, beginning with Dave Smith, founder of legendary synth-maker Sequential Circuits and, more recently, Dave Smith Instruments, and co-developer of the MIDI protocol. Smith is this year’s Richard C. Heyser distinguished lecturer and will present a 50-year history of the synthesizer on Thursday, Sept. 29. The following day, artists K. Flay, Mija, Tokimonsta and REZZ will offer their insights into electronic music production as part of the Recording & Production track.
The Platinum series of events on the Recording and Production track are never to be missed, and this year offers three separate focuses: engineering, mastering and vocal production. There are also two engineer-focused Raw Tracks sessions, including George Massenburg dissecting Earth Wind and Fire’s “September,” with help from panelist Kenny Moran and moderator Mark Rubel (Oct. 1), and Bob Ohllson, again with Rubel, analyzing Marvin Gaye’s “What's Goin' On” (Oct. 2).
On opening day, Terri Winston of the Women's Audio Mission in San Francisco will detail the “Evolution of Album Production from Start to Finish,” with help from a panel including engineers Marcella Araica, Sylvia Massey, Ann Mincielli and Piper Payne and recording artists tUnE-yArDs and WondaGurl. Winston is also scheduled to present “Producing/Recording Music for Games” on the Game Audio track that same day, with engineer and producer Leslie Ann Jones, composer Winifred Phillips and producer Winnie Waldron.
The Recording and Production track turns to high-profile live broadcasts with a special event entitled “Life in the Hotseat—Audio Production for Live Global Telecast Events” on Sept. 30. An all-star panel of engineers, producers and RF specialists with experience on the ACM, AMA, BET, Emmy, Grammy, Latin Grammy and Academy Awards telecasts, as well as MLB, NASCAR, NBA and NFL sports events, will offer a peek behind the curtain at some of the world’s most technically advanced and challenging audio productions.
On the Broadcast and Streaming Media track on Sept. 30, the NAB’s Skip Pizzi will moderate a panel on “Audio Considerations for Over-the-Top Television.” OTT may be the new frontier but it’s also still the Wild West for streaming broadcast, and is proving to be something of a test-bed for new technologies such as 4K video and next-generation audio services. As a result, challenging issues such as loudness management—successfully implemented in over-the-air and cable—and interoperability remain largely unresolved. Pizzi will also report on the latest developments in standards and practices for OTT audio and video.
As media transports continue to migrate to IP networks and audio and video increasingly travel together, AV and IT networks are more and more becoming converged in installed deployments. The next inevitable step would seem to be the absorption of pro AV into the Internet of Things, which is predicted to account by 2020 for 10 percent of all the digital data created, replicated and consumed in a single year. Intel’s Greg Schlechter will delve into the world of network infrastructures and issues of interoperability and open standards in his presentation on the Networked Audio track, “The Internet of Media Things for Installed AV, Recording, and Live Events,” on Oct. 1.
Issues of interoperability and the peaceful coexistence of AV and IT on converged networks are very much at the forefront at the moment. Multiple sessions on the Networked Audio track touch on one or both issues, including “IT Considerations for Networked Audio,” presented by QSC Audio’s TJ Adams and Joe Peavey, who will investigate the specialized needs of audio systems versus general data and enterprise application requirements on Sept. 29. “Who Owns the Audio Network, IT or AV?” moderated by Patrick Killianey of Yamaha Professional Audio on Oct. 2 will similarly plumb the murky depths where AV and IT meet. Killianey promises to not only offer ways to capitalize on existing IT infrastructures but also offer tips on creating a clear delineation of responsibility between AV and IT.
AES67, published in 2013, offers an expectation that the industry will eventually universally adopt a common interchange format to enable disparate network platforms to exchange audio without sacrificing proprietary advantages. QSC’s Rich Zwiebel, who is also chairman of the Media Networking Alliance, a trade association promoting the adoption of AES67-2013, will moderate a panel discussion on the impact of the interoperability standard, “AES67 and the Audio Industry,” on Sept. 30.
On Oct. 1, the annual DTV Audio Group Forum at AES will spend the afternoon hours discussing “The Changing Face of Television Audio: Objects, Immersivity, and Personalization” with moderator Roger Charlesworth, the group’s executive director. The forum will present, among other topics, the latest developments in object-based audio tools for live production and post production, the impact of VR on immersivity and personalization in television, and the challenges of loudness management in multi-platform streamed content delivery.
Last, but by no means least, on Sept. 30, yours truly will be on a panel—“OK, You Did Not Get the Gig at the Studio. Where Are the Jobs?”—that will offer suggestions for alternative careers in the industry beyond the recording studio. Need a preview of one of my suggestions? It’s right in front of you.