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Celebrating the century

26 July 1916 saw the first meeting of a new organisation, the Society of Motion Picture Engineers. In 1950, television became an official part of the society, making it SMPTE. In our young industry there are few chances to celebrate a centenary, so IBC is honouring SMPTE in Sunday night’s Awards Ceremony.

The driving force behind SMPTE was Charles Francis Jenkins, an innovative pioneer in the movie industry. One of his earliest achievements was the phantoscope, one of the first projectors and powered by electric light.

His first screening, in 1894, was a colour movie – he had hand-tinted every frame!

He became frustrated by the lack of interoperability between different movie systems, so from the very beginning the society focused on standards. The guest speaker at that first meeting 100 years ago was Henry Hubbard, secretary of the US National Bureau of Standards.

He said: “Standardisation means and implies an ideal to be realised. Ideal standards, therefore, involve searching investigations so that they may be based upon scientific principles rather than on empirical judgement.”

Today’s executive director of SMPTE, Barbara Lange, explained: “We have three pillars: standards, membership and education. None is more important than the others, and none would survive without the others. Together, we advance the art, science and craft of
the moving image.”

For 100 years, SMPTE has codified the best of engineering and technology into the framework which underpins every part of the world of the moving image. In recognition of this remarkable centenary – and in acknowledgement of its continuing role – IBC is proud to honour one of its partner organisations.

All IBC visitors are invited to the Awards Ceremony, which takes place in the Auditorium at 18:30 on Sunday evening, and will include a special video on the work and history of SMPTE, as well as presentations of all the other awards. Entrance is free to everyone, but it is likely to be extremely popular so be early to ensure you get a seat.

Find out more about the awards at