Celebrating 50 years of IBC

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Fifty years ago, a group of broadcast equipment manufacturers in London, decided to organise a unique exhibition – the first of its kind – one run by the industry, for the industry. Lead by John Drew Tucker (EMI), John Etheridge (Rank Cintel) and Tom Mayer (Marconi), 33 other exhibitors joined them in a conference room at the Royal Lancaster Hotel to display their technology wares to a group of about 500 delegates. The year was 1967 and the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) was born.

Broadcasting in the 1960’s was a very different business – colour television was in its infancy, the entire broadcast chain was analogue and there were no desktop computers or cell phones, one wonders if any of those pioneering manufacturers ever imagined a world of touch screens and ultra-high definition video? IBC lasted just one year in the Royal Lancaster Hotel before needing more space. It went to the Grosvenor House hotel on London’s Park Lane for a while, before heading south to the Grand Hotel in Brighton. IBC’s popularity and rapid growth meant that it ended up also filling the next door neighbour Metropole Hotel and Conference Centre as well – one extremely busy year there was even a pavilion on the beach, too!

By 1990, the lack of exhibition and meeting space – and a chronic shortage of hotel rooms had reached crisis point and something had to be done to save the conference from collapse. Under the inspired and visionary leadership of John Wilson, IBC became an independent body, owned by six partner bodies: IABM, IEEE, IET, RTS, SCTE and SMPTE, with a full-time professional staff and IBC moved from the UK to the Netherlands in 1992 to the Amsterdam RAI. The strong association with the six leading trade bodies, and the committee structures for exhibition and conference, ensured that the event was still run by the industry for the industry.  From 1994 IBC became an annual event, and it has remained in Amsterdam ever since.

2017 and IBC celebrates its 50th year, still as the leading event on the global stage for everyone involved in content creation, management and delivery. It is the world’s leading Media, Entertainment and Technology show. Over 55 000 industry professionals from more than 170 countries converge to network, discuss and debate across a broad range of topics including OTT, 4K, HDR, Streaming VOD, Cloud Hosting, Ultra HD, VR and IPTV. Bringing together a visionary conference and dynamic exhibition with unique and carefully curated feature areas, IBC provides a unique combination of meetings, discussions, demonstrations, new product launches, seminars and networking opportunities.

This year’s IBC conference programme will yet again offer the opportunity to network and debate with over 400 of the highest calibre international speakers, visionaries and thought-leaders who are shaping the industry. The overall theme of the IBC2017 Conference is: Truth, Trust & Transformation. The opening keynote, entitled Fans, Friends and the Future of Broadcasting, will highlight the changing ecosystem of the industry as the lines blur between traditional broadcasting and online video and will focus on how the rise of fan and friend power is influencing global viewing decisions. Another one to watch out for is IBC’s Platform Futures, Sports Business and the Consumer conference thread which tackles the big business of fan engagement in sport and will examine the expanding business opportunities surrounding traditional and alternative sports coverage and rights management, with a focus on the crucial topic of fan engagement.

A growing trend and a radically-new business model is innovative post-production providers embracing cloud virtualisation and remote working to deliver services. Cloud-based post has only now become a reality as developments in public cloud technologies, connectivity and industry software tools have coincided, enabling content to be produced wherever and whenever is needed without carrying the capital cost of an expensive facility. Don’t forget to join the delegation at the “Cloud: how far can it go?” conference discussion on Friday, 15 September to gain more insight.

For those wishing to follow the future in depth, the conference keynote presentation on 16 September not to miss looks at the road ahead for Virtual Reality (VR). The What’s Happening in VR, AR and Mixed Reality session will look at the emerging swathe of consumer devices and services as well as showcasing successful VR experiences across platforms, from entertainment to sports content. The VR thread of conference sessions is going to be well worth attending.

A new innovation this year at IBC is the Startup Forum, an initiative that brings together innovative digital media start-ups, media houses and investors for a day of keynote presentations, panel sessions, pitching and networking. Another conference session thread that is bound to be packed to the rafters is the IBC Cyber Security Forum, a series of sessions that will allow businesses to gain the latest insights into the threat posed from cyber-attacks, including the most common risks and how to mitigate them. Delegates will also learn how adopting a good cyber security policy can offer competitive advantages in the marketplace.

As usual, the IBC Exhibition will cover fifteen halls across the whole of the RAI spanning the creation, management and delivery of electronic and media entertainment. IBC is far more than a conference and an exhibition. Over the years they have developed a whole series of events and free-to-attend added value features that enhance your IBC experience. From industry starters, through to the top C-Level executives driving the industry’s agenda; theatres hosting demonstrations, workshops, presentations and briefings; the future of technology and research from leading R&D labs; and even the odd blockbuster on show at their custom built IBC Big Screen!

A definite must-do will be The Future Zone. This year, the focus is on multi-sensory virtual worlds and imagery of the future. You will have the opportunity to step through the Future Zone ‘time tunnel’ into the exciting realms of mixed reality, 3D audio, mind-blowing video displays and holographic projections. This 6m x 2.5m LED tunnel will be displaying some of this year’s most exciting and innovative content. The IBC Future Zone is also home to the IBC Future Reality Theatre. Free to all IBC attendees, the Future Reality Theatre will present a programme of creative, business and technology sessions, which will explore the current and future impact of new technologies and the opportunities, challenges and implications around VR, AR, MXR and beyond. If you have the time it’s worth attending the IBC Awards ceremony in the RAI’s Auditorium. All visitors to IBC are welcome to attend the Awards ceremony on Sunday, 17 September – your ticket to the ceremony will be included in your IBC Exhibition pass!

It’s too soon to speculate on what new equipment and gear might be launched at IBC; the mega-trend toward IP based infrastructure that is transforming the industry at lightning speed is bound to present us with new innovations. I wonder if we will see Samsung’s new monster 10.3m HDR LED cinema screen in action? Who’s going to surprise us in the camera world? You can be guaranteed the exhibitors will deliver the best of the best as they usually do, something well worth celebrating, so ‘Proost’, here’s to the next 50 years, IBC!

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