Over the years, journalists and tech geeks have learned to turn an avid ear whenever Mark Schubin rises to ask a question. At the trade shows, his target usually includes those in upper management of Sony, Panasonic, and any number of other manufacturers of video gear who, licking their lips in nervous anticipation, have learned to respect questions from this bearded, Hawaiian panted and sandal-shod savant–for those innocent sounding queries often puncture their carefully crafted marketing messages. Schubin, we have all learned, knows the history, physics, and engineering behind most video devices—and audio, cinema, and who knows what else–better than most anyone you can find who talks about this stuff for a living.
So even though today’s presentation The Fandom of the Opera began at the unnecessarily early hour of 7:30am, I was there at the Samsung showroom in the Time Warner Center on time, and eager to hear the scheduled talk. Bill Sobel, of SobelMedia, produced.
Schubin, a multiple-Emmy-winning SMPTE Fellow, is the engineer-in-charge of the Met Opera’s media department; he’s the techie behind their now wildly successful The Met: Live in HD broadcasts. But as usual, his slide show and talk wasn’t some dry droning of facts about the history of media technology, but dense with odd bits of knowledge gleaned from his extensive research. Did you know that the first opera sync sound movies were shown in 1900, some 27 years before the first such accredited movie, The Jazz Singer? Or that an 1886 patent was granted for the use of animated movies for background projections during opera performances, even as Edison and W.K.L. Dickson were working on their first camera system?
These and a barrage of other intriguing facts and insights are available from Schubin’s website, Schubin Café. While you don’t get the benefit of his witty comments, at his site you should still be able to find a download of the extensive PDF of the lecture. Check out the other downloads, and the daily blogs, too; you’ll always find intriguing, fun to read, tech insights.