What's in it for me?
By John Gates, SMPTE/NE Chairperson
A little while ago, I was asked why I am so involved with SMPTE. What that person really was asking was "What's in it for me?". I've been a SMPTE Guy for a while, so my short answer is, A Lot! But I want to share a longer answer with you.
There are many benefits of value that I receive from my membership in the SMPTE. The most important to me is the contact with like-minded professionals interested in sharing their knowledge and expertise on a personal level. It is a high level of useful communication that is also rewarding. I feel I can make a difference in our business/industry working in the SMPTE and that's why I stay involved.
The future of the SMPTE is not clear to me, or probably, to anyone else. We live in a society and work in an industry where we are forced to do more, faster and more often, than ever before. Frankly, most days, it is impossible to complete all the assigned tasks and projects. It appears that everyone in our business with any degree of supervisory responsibility is overworked beyond reason. I have no idea how this will play out in the long run.
However, I can tell you that SMPTE, and virtually every other professional society in just about every industry, suffers from declining, or at least erratic, attendance at meetings (both national and local, with a few exceptions), has fewer volunteers offering to serve in elected positions and little or no membership growth. I do not believe it is because SMPTE or other groups are becoming irrelevant. I believe it is because we are all overburdened. I don't know what the answer is to this set of problems.
Because we live in a free market society, many competing companies are unwilling to meet and agree on a set of standards that might possibly not include products they have or are currently developing. That is just one reason why we have such a proliferation in tape formats, etc. today. One of the SMPTE's prime reasons for being is to establish consensus standards. Kinda tough when economic forces preclude consensus, don't you think? And it seems to get tougher each year.
However, I believe that much of life is like a pendulum and that there will always be a need for groups like the SMPTE, and their related activities will become, or at least stay, important. It's up to people, people like you and me, people like those who serve with me in New England, to continue to work hard to make sure that a group like the Society Of Motion Picture & Television Engineers always remains vital and relevant and useful. It's an uphill battle, but a worthwhile cause. And, that's exactly why I, and many others "bother" with SMPTE.
Judging from the turnout of more than 136 people at our September 28th meeting this year, I guess there are many people, right here in New England, who agree that SMPTE is "worth the trip". I hope you think so too and will "make the trip" to an SMPTE - New England Section meeting sometime soon, so we will have a chance to meet.
-John Gates, SMPTE/New England Section Chairperson
Gates Service Group, Inc.
14 Edgewood Ave.
Beautiful Downtown Natick, MA 01760-5424