In a Departure, SMPTE Taps a ‘Creative’ As Its Next Standards Chief

Studio vet Howard Lukk takes leadership role at engineering org

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), develops and educates on motion-imaging standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines for the communications, media, entertainment and technology industries.

As a result, its leaders are typically engineers, and come from the technical sides of their industries.

In naming its next director of standards, however, the org has zigged where it normally zags, reaching into Hollywood’s creative ranks.

SMPTE announced Wednesday that technologist and film director Howard Lukk will succeed Peter Symes as director of standards. Symes, will hold the position until his retirement at the end of 2016, so Lukk will spend the next 12 months assimilating himself into the new role.

Lukk’s credits include stints as VP of production systems at Walt Disney Studios and director of media systems at Pixar — but he has also been a writer-director with several shorts among his credits.

As SMPTE’s director of standards, Lukk will coordinate and supervise all standards activities within the Society as well as manage the headquarters standards department.

Lukk explained to Variety that it’s common for engineers to focus on technology without fully considering that non-technical creatives will have to use their products. “One of my biggest goals is to bring that kind of user focus back into the standards.” said Lukk, adding he hopes to  emphasize the “end-user perspective of people that are actually using (the products) on a day-to-day basis.”

Lukk said he is eager to assume this role during a period of such active technological innovation.

“There’s so many new technologies (high dynamic range, Ultra-HD TV, augmented reality, virtual reality) that are coming to the hands of the creatives and to the consumers as well.  It’s an exciting time, and this is where I think SMPTE provides the most value in getting standards across all of these new technologies, so things can inter-operate and we can have a good ecosystem for which all the new content can get out to the consumers.”

Lukk added that he plans to keep up with the creative end of the business as well, as not to “lose touch with the bases that actually use this equipment in the end.”


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