New York "VariCamp" – October 16, 17 and 18 – 2003

At only three and half years old, the HD EXPO organization certainly seems to have come along at the right time. Launching in November 2001, the group quickly found success with their HD EXPO events–attracting dozens of sponsors and hundreds of curious industry professionals with their inaugural event.

But displaying and demonstrating the technology wasn’t enough. HD EXPO founder Kristin Petrovich and her team knew that in order to truly make a difference, they needed to educate the interested parties, as well–and so the HD EXPO Workshops were born. Here, Petrovich discusses the birth of HD EXPO’s educational component, the Panasonic connection and why it’s important to separate high definition myth from fact.

Jennifer Wood (MM): What is the mission upon which the organization was founded–and how has that mission changed with advances in HD technology?

Kristin Petrovich (KP): Our mission statement is “To create an HD EXPO community where the worlds of film and video production and post-production converge to encourage and facilitate education, networking, communication and commerce.”

With our mission as the backbone, we have expanded our educational and community-building emphasis. I personally feel that education is the key to high definition. There are so many misconceptions and equipment not being used to its potential that education and information sharing communities are essential to the movement and growth of this technology. In addition, as the technology gains speed with the consumer side, educating the consumers as to the viewing benefits of HD is critical. Most people have heard the buzz word “high definition,” but many have never seen it.

MM: Though your HD EXPO Workshops are a relatively new part of your program, had education always been a goal you’d worked toward?

KP: Education and community building are my passion. With the acceptance and outstanding response of our first five “VariCamp” workshops, based on the Panasonic VariCam HD camera, we are expanding to other products and topics. We will be announcing this expansion in the next couple of weeks. I feel that the EXPOs and workshops are good partners in getting the HD knowledge and word out.

MM: Like the technology itself, do you find that the scope of your educational workshops is in need of constant tweaking–so that attendees are always up-to-date on the latest HD trends?

KP: Both the EXPOs and Workshops keep up to date with the technology, which is changing rapidly. We pride ourselves on bringing up-to-date information into the hands of the community.

Having completed an HD EXPO on March 11th in Los Angeles, we will be traveling to Dallas on June 4th through 6th to join the Entertainment Expo and SWAFT conference in bringing the High Definition component. Then we’re back in Los Angeles November 6th, ensuring that the up-to-date information is disseminated through workshops, panels and discussion critical to our success.

The HD EXPO Workshops adapt the curriculum based on the students’ background and experience with the focus differing from region to region. In Los Angeles we had DPs that were predominantly making the transition from film and in Washington DC, the students were making the transition from standard def. With that in mind, we are sensitive to the application and the regional influence. So we tailor both the EXPOs and the Workshops to fit the attendees.

MM: What, exactly, are the Workshops all about: What subjects are addressed? How long are they? What are the educational/professional requirements for those attending? What are the demographics of your attendees? What is the cost to attend?

Los Angeles "VariCamp" July 24, 25, and 26 – 2003

KP: Currently, we are producing five workshops based on the Panasonic VariCam HD camera (called “Varicamps”) throughout the US. This workshop is three days at the cost of $1,175. The demographics of the students/attendees vary from region to region. This is a hands-on workshop that is designed to have the students leave ready to work on this camera and understand its applications, gaining experience that will further their career. Each student becomes part of the community that is being built around this product, and a comprehensive manual is given to each student. To see the curriculum outline, log on to our Website at and click on “Workshops.”

MM: We certainly can’t talk about these “VariCamps” without addressing the part that Panasonic plays in them. How did you first partner with the company? What was it that attracted you to working with Panasonic specifically?

KP: The timing was right for both Panasonic and HD EXPO Workshops. Panasonic has been a Platinum sponsor of the EXPO since early on, so they were familiar with how we do things, our passion for HD and our marketing ability. Panasonic is a global thinking company. They have HD products for all types: prosumer, budget-conscious filmmakers and high-end users. That awareness is one of the attractive components of Panasonic. In each VariCamp we have a portion of the workshop where Panasonic has one of their engineers present so that we can dissect the camera from a purely technical side. That always appeals to the students that come from an engineering background. Panasonic has been a dream to work with!

MM: Obviously, you’ve struck gold with these events–I know that you already have a waiting list going for the next few and a number of requests for additional camps to get started. What do you think it is about the timing–and the product–that is gauging such an interest?

KP: HD is hot! I think that the transition has started and individuals that make their living through technology know that they need to be ahead of the curve–we offer them that edge!

MM: Are you of the mindset that all of Hollywood will eventually turn to HD?

KP: Well, that is a complex question. HD is another tool. Film will always be a choice of acquisition, and a good one. I think the important thing here is the influence of HD–the growth of HD with multi-camera shows, reality programming and lower- to mid-size budgeted films is moving HD forward in Hollywood. Lately there has been a big acceptance of HD with some highly creative and influential filmmakers such as Michael Mann on Collateral with Tom Cruise, Robert Rodriguez with Spy Kids and then, of course, George Lucas has been such a pioneer in the industry.

MM: What do you see as the greatest benefit of HD for today’s independent moviemakers? As the technology continues to improve, how do you think these benefits will change?

KP: I have been watching the independent filmmakers accept HD and the greatest benefit that I have observed is the freedom that HD allows the director and DP. If the filmmaker is accustomed to working with film, the freedom to keep rolling with HD gives them a new level of creativity. When using film, there is always the concern of the expense with the feet of film being used.

I think, as the technology advances, the price will also go down–which means more options for acquisition and editing. Looking at the film festivals, I am already noticing the increase of HD. I saw a film at SXSW, which was shot on the Panasonic Varicam and was well-received. During the Q&A, the director and producers mentioned that their decision to work with HD had to do with their limited budget.

MM: Where will the next VariCamps be happening and how can MM readers learn more?

KP: The next VariCamp will be in Connecticut; the dates are not locked, but it will be in June, 2004. The other cities we will be visiting are Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles and the Chicago/Detroit area. Our dates are not yet firm, but by the time this goes to press we should have the dates and locations posted on our Website at

MM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KP: I would like to stress the importance of handling HD differently than either standard def or film. There are a few things that one should know before shooting HD–one being “What are your final delivery requirements?” That answer alone can make a few of the production choices easier. There is a weekly HD tip and a free downloadable HD 101 Workflow sheet available on our Website. Good luck and welcome to the community!