Gary Pageau of the Dead Pixels Society talks with Hans Hartman, chair of the Visual1st conference, about the next in-person edition of the Visual1st conference. The highly-regarded Visual1st conference returns to the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio, San Francisco, Calif., Oct. 4-5, 2022. The event features four panels, product demos, and fireside chats on topics like adding video to photo apps, sustainability, visual commerce, and visual content rights.
Visual 1st is the premier global conference focused on promoting innovation and partnerships in the photo and video ecosystem, hosting executives and entrepreneurs at photo and video app development startups, mobile device vendors, carriers, cloud storage providers, software companies, print product providers, camera manufacturers, and many others. Visual 1st is held annually in October.
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Produced by Gary Pageau
Edited by Olivia Pageau
Announcer: Erin Manning
Erin Manning 0:00
The Dead Pixels Society podcast is brought to you by Mediaclip, Advertek Printing, and Indpendent Photo Imagers. Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast, the photo imaging industry's leading news source. Here's your host, Gary Pageau.
Gary Pageau 0:18
Hello again, everyone. Welcome to the Dead Pixels Society podcast. I'm your host, Gary Pageau. And today we're joined by Hans Hartman, the chairman of the Visual1st conference. Hi, Hans, how are you today?
Hans Hartman 0:30
I'm doing well. How are you? Very good.
Gary Pageau 0:33
So for the seven people out there who aren't familiar with the Visual1st conference? Can you give us a thumbnail sketch of what the Visual1st conference is? And what the objectives of the conference are?
Hans Hartman 0:47
There might be more than seven, but
Gary Pageau 0:49
I'm just saying it's a very well known conference. So yeah,
Hans Hartman 0:53
well, maybe one thing that's of interest to think everybody in your audience is how we started and where we are at now. So it was initially called mobile photo connect in that word, connecting it, which is very crucial to what you know, is still Visual1st as well, but then also towards mobile and photo in it. So over time, hustle, we started when smartphone photography sort of became real. And there were a lot of naysayers, like it will never be good enough quality. And we said, No, you're looking at all the innovation happening that was so the early days of smartphone photography to fly we had to work mobile in it also took good photo in it. But over time, mobile sort of became more and more of an empty term, because almost everybody has a mobile aspect or mobile strategy. Like in the old days, companies call themselves internet companies. Doesn't mean anything anyway. And it's the same for mobile. So that's one reason why we renamed to conference couple of years ago to facial first, it's more than mobile photography, its cloud, its desktop base, its web based. For the second one is photography. So we started very much with photography only. But over time, you know, initially short form video, we actually had a term, like three or four years ago that we called Fotios. It has an in between a photo and variation in short form video, but as video became bigger, we did. Yeah, we expanded beyond photography, because a lot of use cases are very similar between photography and videography. Some tools are the same. Sometimes the different tools by the same vendor self video is part of it, although in reality, the majority of what we focus on is still photography. So that's why we renamed the conference to Visual1st. And I think the best way to describe it, it's it's bringing together sort of two completely different worlds. One is the startups and there could be app developers, or some these days also cloud or AI developers, sometimes very early on developers. And we bring them together with typical pretty senior executives from larger photo, video, hardware, software, print, camera, those kinds of industries. So it's a interesting next year of innovation happening from larger companies and smaller ones.
Gary Pageau 3:37
And it's also an international event. That's one thing, as I've noticed, having attended in the past, you know, you're meeting people from around the world who come to the Golden Gate club in the San Francisco Presidio, and want to mention where the location is. And the dates are October fourth, and fifth.
Hans Hartman 3:54
Yeah, very much so. And over time in the last, so the last two years, the we had to do a hybrid conference. And of course, at that time, there was really a large contingent of also Europeans. We did it at a time, early mornings, Pacific time. So also folks in Europe could join. But before so that was a large contingent of Europeans. But even before that, our last in person conference, we had about 30%, coming from Europe. So it's really you know, I would say it's a cross Atlantic kind of conference with somebody from Europe and North America.
Gary Pageau 4:34
So the dates, I mean, the content of the program is similar to what it was two years ago, about a day and a half. Correct? Yeah. Can you kind of walk us through the program itself, the key topics and subjects that are going to be interest exposed, because, as usual, there's some new things being introduced.
Hans Hartman 4:58
Yep. Yeah. And and maybe you can split it up between the topics and sort of the format. So let's start with the format that kind of sessions we have effect. So the program starts at 130. On, I think it's a Thursday. And actually before so for the pre conference, we have what is now becoming a tradition we have had that once or twice before in a physical format. And then also in hybrid format, what we call a beam, an imaging luncheon. So we very much invite the female attendees to get together and they do, apparently great amount of networking, and they really liked that. So that's sort of a kicking off before the conference starts. And then the format itself, so we have maybe three or four different kinds of sessions. So you have fireside chat sessions, which are typically industry luminaries, it's a one on one actually, it's a one on two should have two moderators, one industry luminary, and we really dive into a topic that person is very well suited for discussing with. So for instance, this year, we have we're very pleased to have Rudy Berger from Woodside capital. Talk about, you know, how can you what are the trends in companies being acquired? Right? And what kind of strategies can you have when you think about an exit down the road as a company?
Gary Pageau 6:27
I actually met Rudy, for the first time at Visual1st, probably what it was mobile photo connect. So he's a longtime attendee. So he knows the audience very well. Yeah. And
Hans Hartman 6:37
it's great to have somebody from an m&a firm who also he was at MIT was at Xerox, he really knows the imaging, hardware and software part really, really well. So not that many m&a firms that know the imaging world well, so anyway, he will talk about trends, share data and make recommendations how to prepare for possible exit. But of course, lots of companies have that in mind eventually. So that's the fireside chat, form it, then we have panels, and panels, we also work with two moderators. And they have to particularly have four panelists, not more than that. And the reason why we work with two moderators is it's probably more probing more deep conversation of them. Sometimes you see at other conferences, where people show slideshows, and one panelist helps another. Now, this is really an in depth discussion around the topic. And most of them is Alexei and Alexei gerar, a co host of the conference and myself. But sometimes we also work with external co moderators to be sure. And then the third kind of program element we have is what we call show Intel demo. slots or presentations. And they're highly popular. It's very authentic. It's four minutes. Typically, it's the developer or the product owner, if it's a larger company, and informing I'd say do a live demo. So things are minutes
Gary Pageau 8:16
and no longer than four minutes on the dot.
Hans Hartman 8:21
Yeah, we'll kick them off off stage in a very friendly way. But yeah, it's it's lots of fun, because it's an authentic kind of happening there. It's also very people remember, these live demos really well. So it's a great way for us to encourage startups, or established companies to show what is really cool and new and what they're working on. And then we have a jury of pretty important folks from the m&a world from the VC world. And then we also have an addiction from Google. Google image search. That gives the jury then gives awards so we give some extra Publicity to the award winners after the conference. So
Gary Pageau 9:08
you can have like a Best of Show...
Hans Hartman 9:12
Best of show, best technology, and best business potential and under is what we call a special recognition award. The jury can give for whatever reason they think somebody stands out. So that's the third element. And what is new this year at our in person conference. We have done that in our hybrid ponds is this concept of birds of a feather roundtable. So we have a limited number of sessions. It's during the launch. The launch is pretty long, this hour and a half so we will allow people to do a lot of networking. But half an hour of that. We allocate for folks who would like to sit together with like minded industry peers, dive into a topic that one of our sponsors We have has a certain topic that we will announce to everybody before the session start and then could say, hey, right. For a day and a half, I'm primarily sitting in the audience and listening to all these great people on stage, this is my chance to ask questions to really be involved and share my own opinions. So it's more of a smaller group. In parallel, we have maybe four or five of those sessions during lunch time.
Gary Pageau 10:28
That is new, because that is one of the things that the feedback I've heard from people who attend Visual1st is they really value that interval in between session interaction time that the networking and between session conversations are where they can get a lot of value from.
Hans Hartman 10:46
Yeah, my biggest challenge is often, you know, after a break, whether it's a lunch break, or mid morning, mid afternoon break, get everybody. Stop. There will be actually, after the first day, we have a big reception, even the second day, we have another reset sort of plenty of networking time. But once people get going, yes, you're absolutely right. Networking is a big, big part of it. And sometimes it old friends, you know, they see each other once a year offers, and sometimes they make new connections and connect with them as well.
Gary Pageau 11:25
So let's segue into the established programs, you know, the four or five major topics where you're going to have panels or presentations, because those are the things that I think people. That's kind of where they get the top line impression and what the content will be about.
Hans Hartman 11:44
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So no four panels at this point, maybe we'll have a fifth panel, maybe not we don't know yet, but have four panels with very distinct topics that we feel passionate about. And we think it's a good time this year now in the fall to dive into that. So one is what we call a panel that will dive into the sustainability practices among photo printing, print fulfillment companies. So we did a webinar, but we call official first spotlight on June 22, we had more than 70 people from again, both primarily Europe and North America participating it. And in those we have, like 11 or 12 photo printing companies share what kind of going green kind of initiatives they were taking. So at Visualforce itself in October, instead of you know, replicating No, these are all the kinds of things that people could be doing. We covered that in that spotlight. Now, it's more about sort of how do you do it? What is the nitty gritty of doing sustainability audits? What kind of standards are there? What kind of strategic decisions do you need to make? etc. So a little bit more, getting into the details of photoprint sustainability practices? Okay, that that's one and the co chair of that panel will be Rick Bellamy, as many of you know, in the past with RPI, as CEO, RPI and also very active in the board of D scope. So he will be a co moderator of that panel.
Gary Pageau 13:23
Yeah. And Rick has really taken on industry sustainability as a passion with his new consulting company. So I couldn't think of anyone in the industry who is more engaged and involved in this topic, then Rick,
Hans Hartman 13:37
yeah. And exactly. And that's why I'm very pleased that he is helping us to put that together. Yeah. All right. So that's one of the four topics then there is another topic we feel passionate about is this whole idea of do a lot of photo first companies that at some point, they decided, hey, you know what? As I indicated earlier, there's also a trend that end user use more and more video, what kind of video applications or functionality can we add on top of in addition to photos? So we have, we talk about several companies who came from that world. And one in particular, that has already signed up to speaking is pixart. And they are what's called the unicorn they have what is it? 300 million active users very big. They started with photo and effects kinds of things. And they really build out video applications. Yeah, they
Gary Pageau 14:41
got about what about six or eight apps in this space, whether it's in creating music videos or video editing, or photo editing or hybrid? So they've got a they've got a very large portfolio of apps actually. Yeah,
Hans Hartman 14:56
yeah, it's a big company. These days Monday, they spoke maybe seven years ago or so, and relatively small, they've grown very, very fast. And like I said, the evaluation is at a current basis. So they're great. And there will be more along those lines. And the big question is, you know, should you go best of breed with only photo functionality? Should you go video only? Should you maybe combine it in one application? From the same brand with a lot of strategic questions, once you start addressing video, but I think what I see throughout our attendees, and the companies, everybody is at least thinking about, you know, what, maybe we should not if they're coming from the photo world is almost everybody originally came from the photo world, almost everybody thinking, well, at some point, we need to do something with video, right? Whether it's baby steps first, like slideshow, animations, or maybe a little bit farther going, everybody's thinking about, so we want to have some innovative companies who can show and tell and share their perspectives on that. Okay, so that's photos and videos kind of handle. And then we have a panel. And we already made, you know, over the years, that became a bigger theme. And that's the idea of, you know, companies are always thinking about how can I monetize my, my app or my software or my cloud service in different ways. So you can talk about advertisements, or you charge for your software, or you do subscriptions, or licensing or b2b or all kinds of ways of monetizing. But what has been a growing area of monetizing is having photos or video creation capabilities that ultimately are used by businesses to sell their products. So ecommerce enablement. So last year, in our hybrid version, we had Shopify for instance, talk about what they're doing and how they are enabling the use of photos and videos when SMBs are trying to sell their products. Now, we will have for folks who are really saying, Hey, are we we came out of the photo and video development app world. Now, we are trying to address the needs of companies who want to sell the product. So ecommerce, and visuals that says theme for that panel.
Gary Pageau 17:37
And there's been a lot of cross pollination that's based on a new companies popping up to enable that, and also established imaging companies were getting into that business. So that's probably a hot topic right now,
Hans Hartman 17:48
there's money to be made that, you know, brands know that historically, of course, you know, visual sell, I mean, how can you sell a product just based on text descriptions. But then, you know, in this day and age, it's not just having a photo there, a product description, it's thinking about videos and think about user generated content versus licensed stuffy stock photography, lots of consideration, AR is becoming part of that. So we are exploring, sort of what the opportunities are going forward also to use digital creativity, apps, for free, but worse. And then the last are the fourth panel. And that one is almost filled up. We have three speakers already. And we're very pleased with that title. And that's around content authenticity. Meaning, you know, how do you know if that photo was really created by so and so? Or how do you know someone so is selling that photo? As an NFT? Are they really the legitimate owner of that photo? How do you know if that photo that portrays to be real isn't, you know, synthetic image, and it's sort of a deep fake kind of photo? Yeah, so that's a very, very trending topic around authenticity. So we have Andy Parsons, who is with Adobe's content authenticity initiative. It's an industry wide kind of standard that they have deployed, how to put ownership and digital rights data inside the images. Another company, we have Eric Green graph ski, is the CEO of stag, that's ste g.ai. And they are encapsulating digital rights not as metadata but actually on a pixel level embedded into the images are into the videos, they have a whole perspective on that as well. And of course, yeah, they have image rights, John Naylor, they trace down if photos were illegally used, and then they have services to go after the user, so you get compensated for illegal use there. So there's company called image rights. Yeah. Anyway, we'll have a fourth one as well.
Gary Pageau 20:29
But that's, that's really a big topic, because I've done a few interviews for the podcast with people in NFT space. And there's varying levels of enthusiasm there, you know, the folks who are kind of in the art market are very enthusiastic about it. But there's others who are, you know, less sanguine about the possibilities, because they just either don't understand the technology, or don't understand, you know, the appeal. So I think that it's going to be a very topical and interesting session for a lot of people.
Hans Hartman 20:59
Yeah. And it's just to make clear beyond and I mean, no, one way of right, perhaps, illegally selling something, but is any image, the image on a regular stock photos site? And yeah, how do you know, that is really legitimate? So there's questions that many, many brands have, and you're thinking about acquiring images, but also folks who, who are creators who want to sell it, they want to make sure that they can see proof data legit, you want to retain the copyright?
Gary Pageau 21:30
I mean, that's been that's been the challenge for the professional photography space for three years, right? When digital is, how do you retain the rights of something?
Hans Hartman 21:42
Yeah, any old day should just had a watermark on it,
Gary Pageau 21:46
which could be cropped out, but that's enough.
Hans Hartman 21:48
Yeah, so things have technology has helped out. And then there's sort of a second theme that we throw in there is also the deep fake kind of quite a deep fake or not synthetic imaging. Discussion. So it's, yeah, that's, I can't wait to have that discussion with what will be the three I already know. But there'll be four fabulous panelists who can dive into that topic?
Gary Pageau 22:15
So once again, the event is October 4, through the end of fifth a day and a half at the lovely golden gate club in the San Francisco Presidio. Why do you keep going back to that space? Is this something that the attendees really are fired up about?
Hans Hartman 22:32
Well, the short answer is you have no choice. We won't be beaten up by our audience. If we were to go, like a boring hotel or something like that. It's a fabulous location. It's for those who have never been or don't know, the Presidio in San Francisco. It's a former army base, all the buildings are in the authentic state. There's a big Pixar campus there. And the latest thing, but actually two things, the latest and greatest is very innovative urban park that's built over a freeway that just opened the like in walking distance from our venue.
Gary Pageau 23:13
I think it was under construction, the last time I was there.
Hans Hartman 23:15
Yeah, yeah, it was an earthquake, that whole freeway had to be sort of rebuilt for earthquake preparedness, and then they build the whole urban park on top of it in the natural surroundings, that's great. The other thing for those who are really into it, at the end of the week that our conference is in, so that would be October 7-8 is what's called Fleet Week in San Francisco. That's when the Blue Angels and lots of anybody who's into airplanes and airplane shows that will be happening. And that will be happening, right? Sort of above or sometimes under the Golden Gate Bridge for the Blue Angels flight under it. So if you're into that is just a couple of days later, you can enjoy Fleet Week as well.
Gary Pageau 24:02
Awesome. Well, where can people go to get more information about Visual1st?
Hans Hartman 24:08
Yeah, it's Visual1st sort of its visual as the root number one SD dot this. And there is the preliminary program, the Purnima preliminary speakers, and that's where you also can purchase your tickets. And anybody who has any questions or any suggestions for speaking or topics, you know, we are still relatively early on. So we are all ears and like to get to people and we very much look forward to having that community. meet again in person. I can't wait.
Gary Pageau 24:44
I know. I'm looking forward to it. Well, thank you Hans for your time. And I look forward to seeing you in October in San Francisco.
Hans Hartman 24:51
Erin Manning 24:55
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai