SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: In a year that nearly 60 per cent of all new digital video produced was played on mobile devices and as we near the end of a decade where OTT viewing is expected to surpass typical broadcast TV viewing, the IBC 2018 conference programme in September, will no doubt be full of hot topics and debates as industry leaders, global game changers and disruptors in media, entertainment and technology come together yet again to discuss the future of broadcast.
More than ever before, when it comes to content, consumers want it “their way” and thanks to advances in wireless, mobile and video technologies, consumers are now enjoying an abundance of options; options that they want more of to feed their insatiable appetites for high quality, exclusive content. At this year’s IBC Conference, discussions on content creation and new multi-platform technologies will no doubt be high on the agenda with a number of top content creators adding their expertise and experiences to the sessions. Following on from NAB, cyber security solutions will be a major discussion point and the IBC platform is the perfect place to muse over the issues. Theft of content before it is released to the world market is a major concern for the entertainment industry and needs to be addressed in depth. Interestingly, debates on whether Brexit (the UK’s exit from the EU) will break the broadcast industry through restrictions on free movement of creative talent and import and export uncertainties facing technology vendors, are high on the agenda and of much concern to most of the European delegates. Other discussions are likely to include the ever expanding 4K market, HDR production, content delivery and my favourite new topic – eSports, a US$1.4 billion emerging multi-player video game industry that is taking the entertainment and broadcast markets by storm. BBC Radio 1 gaming reporter (yes this job exists), Julia Hardy, chairs a one-on-one with eSports investor Arnd Benninghoff, to delve into the industry that is giving traditional sport a run for its money and discuss what the future holds for eSport partnerships, players and broadcasters.
This year we will see the first ever IBC Next Gen Track with Sky VR Studios’ technical director, Richard Mills, presenting this exclusive insights into recent and new developments in immersive production, innovative kit and creative trans-media breakthroughs in VR, AR, AI and more. There will no doubt be much discussion around 5G technology with post winter Olympic case studies being presented and sessions devoted to the convergence and partnerships between telecoms and the broadcast industry. Not to be missed will be a high-level panel discussion on the pending impact of 5G on fast, reliable remote production, editing, cloud storage and archiving (yay, we can all work from home soon).
This year’s Big Screen Programme, focuses on how innovation in tech is allowing us to bring stories to life like never before. A must see will be ‘The Story of the Edit’ where we will get a chance to listen to Oscar-nominated Maryann Brandon chatting with Avid’s Matt Feury, on her work on the next instalment of the legendary Star Wars franchise. Another goodie is going to be HBO’s Image Study on Drone Photography where you will be able to see the premiere of the second season of HBO’s ground-breaking technology documentary series Image Study which focuses on aerial camera platforms and how HBO has tested them to the limits of their ability to replace traditional camera equipment and techniques. This session will no doubt be really absorbing and interesting.
Every year the IBC Future Zone brings together the very latest ideas, innovations and concept technologies from international industry and academia, and showcases them in a single specially curated exhibition area within the IBC Exhibition. This year, the focus is on showing how new technologies grow from their first inception, progress through research and development projects, to mature into the ground-breaking applications and product standards of the future. I hope that we will have the opportunity to see the Fraunhofer Institute demonstrating their next generation audio format MPEG-H, which they hope might just become the new de facto standard for broadcasters and the creators of virtual reality experiences. MPEG-H allows content creators to create true surround-sound audio experiences as it effectively has no limit to the number of audio sources it can replicate and can even emulate sound in a 3D space by imitating both vertical and horizontal sources. In addition, it can apply audio to individual objects in virtual environments, a significant boon to creators of VR content. Virtual objects can each be assigned a location and the sound emitting from them changes depending on whether they are behind, in front, or to the side of the user. The experience even works while using a normal pair of stereo headphones.
The IBC Future Zone wouldn’t be the same without contribution from NHK, the sole public broadcaster in Japan that has been leading the development of broadcasting technologies for years now. Their stand will showcase the latest 8K technologies, efficient programme production using AI, and the evolution of their bespoke platform integrating broadcasting with the internet. Not to be missed for anything, NHK always deliver technology ideas that make the whole broadcast world think. Not far away from the Future Zone is the IBC Launch Pad which is located in Hall 9. It’s is the place to go to see the latest innovations from IBC’s newest exhibitors. Now a firmly established IBC feature area, the IBC Launch Pad offers the chance to network with emerging companies and witness their ground-breaking technology first-hand.
As always, there is much anticipation as to what’s going to be new at IBC. It’s too soon to speculate on what equipment and gear might be launched or highlighted but If you do the numbers, according to the organisers, over 57 000 people from 170 countries are going to gather in 1 city to listen to 400 speakers and visit 1 700 exhibitors across five busy days to debate and shape the future of the broadcast and entertainment industries, and witness the latest and most innovative technology advances. Amsterdam, 13 to 17 September must therefore be the number one place to visit in 2018.
By Ian Dormer