Technology Executive

By Vangelova, Luba | The Science Teacher, January 2020 | Go to article overview

Technology Executive


Vangelova, Luba, The Science Teacher


Annie Chang takes a break from evaluating images in the Science and Technology Council Stage/Lab at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Credit: A.M.P.A.S.

Work overview

On a day-to-day basis, my role is to help our studio's theatrical productions with technical issues. My team and I are also responsible for long-term technology strategy, and assessment of new technologies and workfows, such as augmented reality and games engines. A typical week can include helping someone troubleshoot an issue (such as the color looking wrong during playback); reviewing a "proof of concept" test to assess whether a new technology adequately meets a studio need; and documenting technical specifications. I also work on various industry-wide efforts, and give presentations at industry events.

My favorite part of my job is the sense of accomplishment that comes from solving hard problems through technology. I love collaborating with people with different perspectives, and working on the "big picture" to shape the future of filmmaking. I also enjoy chairing industry-standards efforts, which have taught me how to build consensus. The work I find more challenging is developing budget models, mainly because to me, finance is not as fun as technology.

Career highlights

Most recently, I have been incredibly proud to have co-founded the new Filmmaker Mode (www.flmmakermode.com), which enables home viewers to watch movies and TV episodes the way the filmmakers intended for them to be seen. It is a simple concept, but I have literally been working on it for 20 years, because it involves a lot of complexities.

I am also excited to be part of an ambitious new project called Production 3.0, which will modernize how people make movies. I have defined a new process and created a game plan for how it could be implemented at Universal Pictures. I am honored to be an SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) Fellow, and a co-chair of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the group that presents the annual Academy Awards. I received the SMPTE Workflow Medal award for my work in file-based workflows and Interoperable Master Format (IMF), and a patent for a method to generate multiple versions from a single master.

During my tenure at Disney, I was proud of managing the transition from videotapes to file-based workflows, which involved spending more than a year figuring out what file formats and compression schemes to use; collaborating with vendors; and creating the logistics of moving around and archiving files. Lastly, another highlight was creating and testing ways for filmmakers to incorporate high dynamic range (HDR) imagery into a color-management system; these then became industry standards.

Career path

By the time I was a teenager, I knew how to program computers and solder components onto PC boards. I also loved animals, so I decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, I struggled with some of the chemistry classes at Texas A&M. During my college years, I had a part-time job at a PBS affiliate on campus, and played bass guitar in bands. I enjoyed recording music, so I started a little recording studio for local bands. I decided that I wanted to pursue recording engineering, and changed my major to engineering technology, with an emphasis on electronics.

After graduation, I took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles in 1997 to try to become a recording engineer. …

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