Michael Childers: 2013 APEX Outstanding Achievement Award Recipient


Recently IFExpress heard about the award of the APEX Outstanding Achievement Award and rather than another recoup of his achievements, here is the story as we got it:

Industry veteran Michael Childers, currently Chief Consultant, Content and Media Strategy for Lufthansa Systems, will receive the Airline Passenger Experience Association’s (APEX) Outstanding Achievement Award at the Annual Meeting next month in Anaheim, California, the seventh recipient of the award since its launch in 1998.

Childers has been chair of APEX/WAEA’s Digital Content Management Working Group (DCMWG) for more than 12 years—the longest running working group chairmanship ever in APEX/WAEA—and has been a long-time member of the APEX Technology Committee leadership team, and numerous other working groups. He has been APEX’s liaison to the MPEG Industry Forum and Internet Streaming Media Alliance.

In granting the award, APEX said that Childers “has been at the forefront of APEX’s push to be recognized globally as a leading authority on IFE.”

In nominating him for the award, Michael Planey, principal at H&M Planey Consultants, said, “His leadership during the transition from analogue to digital media within APEX has led to the establishment of industry standards, a streamlining of content management, and improved integration of IFE within the content producers’ ecosystem.”

The first recipient of this award, in 1998, was Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines. Other recipients include Wade Hanniball, vice president of digital cinema technology at Universal; Lonnie Weber, inventor of Sony Trans Com’s 8mm film cartridge projection system; Arnold Stevenson, founder of Air Vision and inventor of the seatback entertainment display system for airlines; Bryan Rusenko, most recently vice president at Technicolor, and designer of the original subtitling system for Crest Digital; and Ken Brady, Chief Engineer at Thales, and developer of numerous inflight entertainment systems and cabin equipment designs.

Childers has been in IFE since 1979, and from 1984 to 1996 he headed IFE’s first independent motion picture distribution company, representing major independents like PolyGram, Miramax, Castle Rock, Morgan Creek, New Regency, Beacon Pictures, Spyglass, and many others. His company distributed movies like When Harry Met Sally, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Shawshank Redemption, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Cinema Paradiso, and Fargo.

In 1996, he purchased the company with investors and launched LightStream Communications Group whose subsidiaries included e-source, The Entertainment Resource Company, Airlandsea, and LightStream Communications, a company whose focus was the automation and integration of IFE’s digital content delivery supply chain. After a period of independent IFEC consultancy he served as Managing Director, Content and Media Development for The IMS Company from 2006 to 2009, and then served as Managing Editor of APEX’s newsletter for nearly two years.

He was a co-founder of WAEA’s 0395 Working Group that developed IFE’s first digital delivery standard, chaired the association’s Satellite Content Delivery Working Group, and has—with Lumexis’ Rich Salter—represented APEX on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee that is recommending safe standards for the expansion of the use of personal electronic devices inflight.

He joined Lufthansa Systems in October 2011. He is currently a candidate for the APEX Board of Directors.

The IFExpress team has known Michael since we started this business and as we are biased about Michael and his skill-set, we talked to a number of other IFE’ers and perhaps one of the best inputs we received came from SIE’s John Courtright: “I’ve known Michael Childers since the late ’80s when I bought films from him at Swank. From the beginning, Michael understood the value of entertainment & information content in a world where technology was constantly evolving. He has helped our IFE industry keep focused on content delivery, Digital Rights Management, high production values, and ‘staying agile’ when it comes to technical advances.“

We thought it also prudent to contact the studio crowd and sought an input from Wade Hanniball, Vice President, NBC Universal who told IFExpress: “I’m delighted to hear that Michael is receiving this award! Michael is the thinking man’s IFE expert. He’s been an unparalleled educator and promoter of new ways of doing business as IFE converts from analog to digital technologies. Industry participants may have first learned from Michael terms like codec, bit rate, and metadata, as well as acronyms like DAM, DRM, MPEG and XML. Michael has helped drag IFE, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the digital world, occasionally as a necessary disruptor, but always with intellectualism and passion.” We can’t add anything to that input!

Lest we forget, the annual APEX event for IFEC is next month in Anaheim, CA (Sept. 9 – 12) and it is a ‘must do’ conference/Expo if inflight entertainment and connecitivty is your thing. APEX will team with IFSA for what they call “the largest and most comprehensive industry-driven event in the passenger experience”. We agree and you can preview the amazing Education Agenda. Don’t miss it!

(Editors Note: Readers who vote for APEX Board Members might want to take note that Michael Childers is also running for the APEX Board of Directors — good timing!)

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