Kirsner talks ‘Innovation’ at SMPTE

Keynote speaker says 'start small' at confab

Start small: that was the ruling sentiment from author and keynote speaker, Scott Kirsner, at Wednesday’s luncheon during the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers’ Tech Conference and Expo.

In a speech titled, “Innovation in Hollywood: A Love-Hate Relationship,” Kirsner addressed the crowd of industryites and techies, sharing insight and history on a biz shaped by technological change and resistance.

“Everything that’s new starts really small, and often starts with five or six failures,” Kirsner said. “It’s not about who has the better mousetrap or the better product, it’s about getting people to buy into that product.”

Kirsner, a contributor to Variety who wrote the book, “Inventing the Movies: Hollywood’s Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs,” began his presentation highlighting Edison’s invention of the Kinetoscope. Later, he compared early technology to the iPhone or Youtube, describing all three as intimate forms of entertainment.

“When you look back at the early movies, it was a very personal viewing experience,” Kirsner said. “Now you see people walking around with their iPhones watching videos, and everybody in the established industry says, ‘That’s not a movie … movies are meant to be seen with 500 people.'”

Kirsner said an innovation he’s most excited to see is “Internet connectivity to TV,” where viewers can provide input on their favorite shows and interact on social networking sites.

While some creatives would be resistant to such change, Kirsner spoke to the confab about the importance of history and its relevance to creative innovation.

“A lot of technology … is about what is in the innovator’s head,” Kirsner said to the crowd. “We’re living in this time where people really want to get involved and participate; make their mark.”

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