IBC 2019: It’s a record

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SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE:

It’s a place where cutting edge innovations and creative ideas are shared and relationships are formed. Each year IBC continues to grow and this year attendance hit a record number! The world’s media, entertainment and technology industry once again gathered in Amsterdam by the droves, while the total attendance figure of 56,390 saw a record number of next-generation (18 – 35s) attendees, demonstrating the vital role that the show has in the broadcast and entertainment industry.

IBC CEO Michael Crimp was delighted to see audience growth in key target areas, “Particularly in welcoming more young people, senior level executives and overseas visitors,” he said. ”While this gives us a focus to build on next year, our metrics for success also include crucial elements like quality of experience, audience engagement and IBC’s influence on the industry, and our conversations with exhibitors and attendees tells us that these have all improved on 2018.”

This year’s show was indeed jam-packed with the technology and trends of tomorrow and perhaps the biggest highlight for most was the first-ever IBC Esports Showcase live tournament. I think it highlighted just how gripping and entertaining Esports can be and why the media and broadcast industry should be getting involved. Esports is an incredibly fast-growing movement and IBC attendees saw it first-hand, with two professional teams from ESL’s network of National Championships across Europe going head-to-head in the classic FPS multiplayer Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

The broadcast, media and entertainment industry’s sense of social responsibility is stronger than ever. Movements championing diversity and inclusivity are gathering momentum and there is a conscious increase in company initiatives making a positive impact in the workplace and community. To reflect this, and its commitment to driving change in the industry, IBC has for the first time recognised social responsibility as part of its prestigious awards programme with a stand-alone award: the Social Impact Award. Competition for this award was so intense that the judges awarded not one, but three trophies: to Turkish broadcaster TRT for its World Citizen programme; Sagar Vani, an Indian initiative, which is an omni-channel citizen engagement platform; and finally Chouette Films, an initiative of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, whose aims are to produce academic and informative content with the smallest of environmental footprints.

The conference sessions provided attendees with much food for thought. Google’s Android TV and Roku were singled out as two of the most transformative technologies at IBC by Accedo’s Fredrik Andersson in a What Caught My Eye conference session on Innovation. A big topic of conversation on the main IBC stage was change: changing monetisation models, changing consumer habits, even changing content expectations (have we reached Peak Content yet?).  Something that never changes, though, is the ever spectacular Big Screen Events. As always, the IBC Big Screen, which is equipped with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, delivered a stunning programme of events and screenings. An exclusive cinematic screening of Game of Thrones’ epic Season 8 battle episode drew a huge crowd, as did a session on the stories behind the edit and the music of the Elton John biopic, Rocket Man.

The IBC2019 exhibition featured 1,700 exhibitors over 15 halls offering attendees the opportunity to discover all the latest trends and technologies at their own pace. In the post-production environment, Adobe used the show to unveil Auto Reframe, a new feature for its Premiere Pro video editing software that is powered by the company’s Adobe Sensei artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) platform. Auto Reframe automatically reframes and reformats video content so that the same project can be published in different aspect ratios, from square to vertical to cinematic 16:9 versions. Avid used the opening day of IBC to share that its Media Composer video editing software offering will now be able to deliver native support for Apple’s ProRes RAW camera codec, and will support ProRes playback and encoding on Windows.

The exponential growth in video consumption worldwide is a challenge, as consumer demands and expectations increase. Taking notice of the market trends, Nikon opportunely unveiled its all-in mirrorless moviemaking set-up: the Nikon Z6 Essential Movie Kit, built around the video-friendly 24.5MP full-frame 4K Nikon Z6 body. Comprising filmmaking essentials such as the Atomos Ninja V monitor, SmallRig camera cage and spare batteries, Nikon describes the Movie Kit as “providing the pure essentials to get rolling quickly, with all the core tools to make high-quality movies,” while “leaving filmmakers free to customise further components to suit their personal preferences.” The package will cost aspirant filmmakers around US$3800.

6K was a buzzword often dropped into conversations at IBC, and Blackmagic Design used the occasion to announce the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, a new handheld digital film camera with a full Super 35 size 6K HDR image sensor. There are no surprises when it comes to Blackmagic Design: the Aussie company continues to impress with their amazing technology, and of great interest was the release of their ATEM Mini, a new low-cost live production switcher specifically designed to allow live streaming to YouTube and business presentations via Skype.

As always, Sony showed off their prowess in the industry, unveiling a whole new range of products, solutions and services. The highlight for many a DoP had to be the new PXW-FX9 – XDCAM camera, featuring Sony’s newly-developed Exmor R 6K full-frame sensor and Fast Hybrid Auto Focus system. Building upon the success of the PXW-FS7 and PXW-FS7M2, and inheriting its color science from the digital motion picture camera VENICE, the new camera offers greater creative freedom to capture stunning images and represents the ultimate tool of choice for documentaries, music videos, drama productions and event shooting. Also of interest to shooters was the launch of Sony’s new full-frame E-Mount FE C 16-35mm T3.1 G cinema lens, an ideal match for large-format cameras such as the PXW-FX9 and VENICE, where the wide angle zoom combines advanced optical performance, operability and intelligent shooting functions. For the audiophiles, an impressive third generation of the DWX digital wireless microphone system was great to see, with the compact DWT-B30 bodypack transmitter catching my eye.

For an industry that is constantly changing, being able to experience all the latest tech and hear about the challenges and opportunities facing the industry from key industry players all in one place is invaluable. IBC Director Imran Sroya commented: “IBC continues to succeed because we work hard to present the most knowledgeable speakers, the most topical sessions and the technology of tomorrow, providing a global meeting point that enables industry professionals to get together and share vital information about all aspects of media, entertainment and technology.”

It really is the place to be and the place to meet and I am already looking forward to see what IBC has up its sleeve for next year!