Inspirations: A Conversation With Carey Dissmore – The MediaMotion Ball

We’ve been a very proud sponsor of The MediaMotion Ball for the past several years. On it’s 15th year we take the opportunity to talk with IMUG Founder Carey Dissmore about the past, present and future of this excellent event that takes place each year during NAB.

We've been a very proud sponsor of The MediaMotion Ball for the past several years. On it's 15th year we take the opportunity to talk with IMUG (International Media Users Group) Founder Carey Dissmore about the past, present and future of this excellent event that takes place during NAB.

Note: If you've already read the interview, we've added tons of new photos from Carey and the IMUG crew.


Toolfarm: What is The MediaMotion Ball?

Carey Dissmore: The MediaMotion Ball is a first-class user event, held on the Monday of NAB, 15 years and counting. The MMB features a sit-down dinner, live music, entertaining speakers, over $50k in prizes, but most importantly it is a networking event that attracts the “Who's Who” of the digital media production industry. It is a celebration of the community of digital media professionals who connect with each other daily via the internet and social media.

Faces at MMB

The MMB featured our classic full meal format and the praise continues to pour in. The ambience was “just right” with colorful room lighting, understated banners/decor, and great “conversation friendly”  classic rock and smooth jams performed live by Betsy Holm, who was back by popular demand!

Left: Dan Spiess and Steve Oakley,both IMUG volunteers. Right: Carey Dissmore and Steve Griffiths at the podium during the Ball.

TF: Can you tell us how IMUG originally started, and the catalyst for the first MediaMotion Ball?

CD: The IMUG “officially” started in 1998 as the “International Media 100 Users Group”. We were born out of the now-defunct Shockwave Productions Media 100 email list, starting around 1995. At the time the Media 100 Editing system was what brought some of us together online. An AOL community was also in the mix in those dial-up early days, but that quickly rolled in with what eventually became the IMUG list. The AE list followed a similar track, having first been called the Softmotion AE List hosted–to this day–by our good friend René Hedemyr in Stockholm.

In 1996, at NAB, there was a really small informal gathering of “listers”, as we called ourselves back then, the simple desire was an opportunity to connect faces with names in the community. In 1997 we sort of piggy-backed on a small Promax gathering thrown by the late Charles McConathy. The spirit of these gatherings was right but they were really poorly organized and communication was weak. By 1998 we decided to really step it up and form a proper user group, thus the IMUG was born. Our first few events were called “IMUG @NAB”. By about 2001, many of our members were starting to use FCP, but enjoying the benefits of the community so much, we decided to change the meaning of IMUG to “International Media Users Group”, choosing the strength of the growing community over any specific software or platform. Along the way we also more officially combined our efforts with the Softmotion AE List, merging our e-mail list and user group efforts into media-motion.tv lists and by branding our NAB event to “MediaMotion Ball”. The 2012 MMB was attended by 372 industry pros. Our media-motion.tv email lists continue to be the backbone of this community.

IMUG Staff

The IMUG Staff: 2012

One thing I have to make note of is how much the prevailing culture has changed in the past 15 years. We were pioneering the concept of social media 10 years before it went mainstream. What I mean is this: In the early years, the culture of this industry was VERY different. There was a huge delta between vendors and users. Users communicating with other users online was a new, very disruptive thing.

There were two big hurdles to overcome: First, many users were slow to open up to each other due to competitive impulses. In those days, people working in this industry–especially post production pros–just didn't “share”. Eventually the benefits of openness won out, to the point I am amazed today if I encounter anyone still embracing that “bunker” mentality. We want to be givers, not takers. The second hurdle was vendor positioning. Back then, vendor companies would put out their marketing/PR message and pretty much leave it at that. The rest was handled by high commission VARs with their protected territories. Vendors didn't quite know how to handle it when users from all over the world started talking to each other, comparing experiences and eventually pushing back on some of these vendors. In the early years, these interactions tended to get a tad adversarial until vendors adapted their business practices to better suit this new model of customer engagement. Today, the prevailing culture is much more open. There is also a much better ongoing dialog between vendors and users. I like to think our community played a part in helping shape that very large cultural change in our industry.

Seth Worley

Seth Worley was one of the featured presenters at NAB 2012 and talked about Plot Device, a short film he did for Red Giant Software.

TF: How do you go about planning the event?

CD: In the early years, we were trying to figure out just what this group was going to be, we tried a number of organizational structures. We originally had a dozen or more people involved in an advisory board as we were figuring out how to steer the group and the event. That meant a lot of meetings, lots of input and lots of parsing those ideas, which wasn't particularly efficient.  Still, it was necessary in the early years as we were defining our scope. For the last several years we have organized into a core team of five very dedicated volunteers that handle pre-production of the MMB. This is an extraordinary effort involving hundreds of person-hours planning, coordinating, fundraising, web site and communications, and logistics. Our core team is myself (Minneapolis, MN), Steve Griffiths (Sydney, Australia), Steve Kahn (Charlotte, NC), Dan Spiess (Gainesville, FL), and Chris Rogers (Las Vegas, NV). We are supported by a staff of about 30 volunteers at the event. In recent years, we have had a few students from a local Las Vegas art school helping us out on the night.

MediaMotion Ball Prize Winners!

book signing

Michele Yamazaki signs “Greenscreen Made Easy” for Levi Bulgar. The first 100 guests received a free copy!

TF: Who attends MMB?

CD: In the first couple of years this was a Media 100 user event, for members of the IMUG-list, and so was limited in scope somewhat. Of course that changed a lot when we became the MediaMotion Ball and included the AE-list, which grew the event, but for the past decade or so the MMB has been open to anyone who works in production, post production, motion graphics design, 3D, etc…really anyone and everyone in the production community who values human contact and relationships.

What has happened organically over the years is this event has really become sort of the “it” event for creative pros. If you look across our attendee list it reads like a “Who's Who” of the industry. MMB attendees are folks who are highly influential in the digital content creation community. These are folks who have built strong reputations for themselves via online forum participation, their blogs, social media,  podcasts or even running their own users group,. This is the one event where they all come together and connect in a very human, very approachable manner. The other great thing is that this also applies to our sponsors. We count ourselves blessed to be able to choose our sponsors carefully. We look for sponsors who have what we call “high engagement” with our demographic. Sponsors who, in our opinion really “get it” when it comes to community. One of the things you realize after you've been in this business awhile is that it really is a partnership between the vendors who make the tools, and the users who create content with them. We need each other, and together we propel the industry forward. At the end of the day we're all just people, and an event like the MediaMotion Ball is all about fostering those relationships. We are all influenced by the people we associate with, and I know of no finer bunch of down-to-earth professionals to hang out with than this.

Left: Trish Meyer and Elaine Montoya. Right: Michele Yamazaki and Adam Bedford.

Video Copilot

Left to Right: Andrew Kramer, Mathias Omotola, Sam Loya


Walter Biscardi chats with other MMB guests.


Foreground: Harold Green talks to Alicia VanHeulen of Toolfarm. Background: Michele Yamazaki talks with Hideki Takemura of Toolfarm Japan and Tatsuro Ogata.


Terry Frechette shows off the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera to Kanen Flowers, Paul Zadie and Eric Harnden.

Carey with Mariana and Russo

From the left: Marianna Montague, Carey Dissmore and Bob Russo shared a few laughs, and reminisced about MMB #1.


TF: Looking ahead, how do you see the event evolving in the future?

CD: To be mature is to be basic. As the longest running major NAB user event, we have to adhere to our core fundamentals. One such fundamental is that we are a user event, run by users, for users. That's really key…make a place users want to be, and the sponsors will want to help support it. That's the correct order of things. If we got that the wrong way around, we'd most certainly fail. No disrespect to our wonderful sponsors, who provide substantial subsidies to keep the event affordable. But since we work with sponsors who “get it” when it comes to community they are often among the first to affirm this is the right approach.

We are also committed to our format of a full sit-down meal, great networking and prizes. Time and again we hear from our guest that they may come the first time for the prizes, but they keep coming back for the warm, friendly people and networking. That's the power of community. We are also committed to keeping the MMB a fairly intimate event. We are flattered by the high demand for tickets, but feel that we must constrain the growth of the event to protect it's intimate dinner and networking components. Anything we do going forward needs to protect the close community spirit of the event. Having said that, every MMB has had some unique elements, and we'll continue to mix it up a bit as we move forward…just to keep it interesting!


What a spread!

The Red Giant table at the MMB. From the left: Kevin Bourke, Simon Walker, Harry Frank, Peder Norrby, Aharon Rabinowitz and Seth Worley.

Larry Jordan

Larry Jordan hilariously revealed an Easter egg in Audition CS6.


Steve Griffiths, Tony Cacciarelli (AJA) and Dave Bittner pulling great prizes!

TF: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

CD: Oh gosh, I come from a really broad production background. This is the only career I've ever had, and started working professionally in television at age 18 while I was just starting school for this stuff. By the time I learned it in school I already had the equivalent job experience. Over the years I've worked truck crews, field audio, worked on major network news magazine shows like Frontline, 48 hours, 20/20, Primetime Live and many others. But from an early point in my career it was obvious I was strongest in the post production suite. I'm an editor, motion graphics artist and colorist. Today I have a family and am glad to travel a bit less. I serve a wide variety of clients from agencies producing special-installation content for meetings & events, plus national and regional TV spots, corporate communications, and finishing and color grading on a few broadcast shows for PBS, Food Network, Spike TV and others. My work really spans a pretty large range and I thrive on the variety. Workflow is key. It seems that in today's production environment, with the plethora of cameras, formats and codec choices, it's falling to us post production geeks to keep up with it all–and places us in an advisory role for every production. After all, in the end, we're the ones who have to make it all work together. Thankfully, most producers have now gotten the memo to involve post from the beginning.  I think I design a custom workflow for every project I work on.

As far as what I enjoy most, it's probably the projects I do for little or no compensation, typically for a non-profit that I believe in. I try to take on one or two pro-bono projects each year. I love to get to the heart of a story, because that's where the life-changing emotion lives. There have been more than a few tears shed in my edit suite on these types of projects. Sometimes the journey is the reward.

More Information on the Media Motion Ball

The Maxon Table: Ko Maruyama, Vicky Gray-Clark, Nick Campbell, Mathias Omotola,  Kate Logan and Josiah Hultgren.

Posted by Alicia