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IBC2016: A Transfixing Transformation

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Six days – Conference and Exhibition. Over 55,000 attendees. More than 1,800 exhibitors. 15 Halls. Miles of walking... and a whole lot of technology on offer.

The theme for the IBC2016 Conference was 'Transformation in the Digital Era: Leadership, Strategy and Creativity in Media and Entertainment'. Over a five day schedule, 435 speakers took part in more than 100 sessions to discuss key issues at the heart of the entertainment, media and technology sector. One of the most popular sessions was held on the Monday and was Ang Lee's keynote where he spoke about, and demonstrated, some of the technology used in his new movie Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Specially created for IBC, the movie clip was projected at 120 frames per second in 4K 3D, using Christie's 6P laser projection and Dolby Atmos. Other highly attended sessions revolved around the hot topic of VR. Similarly, exhibitors offering VR capabilities welcomed a steady stream of visitors throughout the show.

Virtual Reality. It's one of those areas that many still shy away from; possibly because of the belief that the technology is still stuck circa 1990s. I remember as a kid trying out one of the few VR games during the then short-lived craze. I also remember the headset being incredibly heavy, a lack of motion tracking and my eyes soon hurting from the all-red coloured graphics. Thankfully, the technology has since developed, amidst other factors, and it appears that VR is, on this occasion, here to stay. However, that doesn't mean that it's perfect. A lot of VR at the moment is okay, but there are concerns of how credible it can be as a wide-reaching technology. It isn't easy, and great care and skills is needed when it comes to shooting, video stitching, and the IT work behind-the-scenes alone.

Video games remain the big initial draw for consumer VR, (and this is likely to be reaffirmed this month when Sony releases the PlayStation VR), but movie studios and filmmakers are looking at the possibility of using the technology for short promos to longer productions. I was surprised to discover just how busy the stands offering VR capabilities were, but there was a constant stream of visitors wanting to try out the technology. I first experienced it at NAB in April; let's just say it could have gone better, but I was persuaded to give it a second chance at IBC. While there is no doubt that the technology has improved, the resolution can still be disappointing – particularly since we are now used to HD and 4K – and VR is unable to deliver this quality yet. But it isn't all doom and gloom. As a VR camera, I was completely taken with the Nokia OZO and right now, it's the one to watch. It features eight output streams which are rendered together to create a complete immersive virtual environment for users.

With VR as a key talking point, there was also a lot of talk ahead of IBC with regards to industry changes, and the move from hardware to software-based technology; and from SDI to IP. This was evident on the show floor, with new emerging tech mixed with true-and-tested tradition.

Autocue used IBC as the launchpad for the new Autocue iPad Pro 12.9" Teleprompter. Designed specifically for Apple's 12.9" version of the iPad pro, the through-the-lens prompting solution is suited for those looking to prompt on location. The user is able to control the speed and direction of the prompter using an optional wired control as well as their iPhone or iTouch device. The solution includes both Mac and PC QStart software so the iPad Pro 12.9" Teleprompter can be used in a traditional teleprompter workflow.

"With the rise of tablets, we have seen smart devices get adopted in video production," explained Robin Brown, Product Manager with Autocue. "For teleprompting, the original smaller tablets are only useful for short distances such as five or six feet. The 12.9" iPad Pro represents a coming of age for the tablet as far as prompting goes.It provides a larger screen and better resolution which opens up the tablet's use to a greater variety of situations."

One of Avid's key announcements involved new features for the Avid Alliance Partner program, including new developer testing and certification, new levels of product certification, and additional tools for creating differentiated connections to the Avid MediaCentral Platform. The innovations deliver on the promise of Avid Everywhere and the Avid platform to help professionals access the tools they need to create, manage, and distribute content more efficiently. New Alliance Partners announced at IBC2016 included ATTO, Burst, Digital Film Tree, Filmlight, Glookast, and StorageDNA.

BeyondHD teamed up with Dynamic Perspective to deliver the CavalonPRO DynaX5. The AutoGyro has ICAO Type Certification; this commercial approval permits the aircraft to be used in day and night VFR conditions, for aerial work subject to chosen options and market operating limitations. The DynaX5 gimbal can take a range of cameras, including ARRI or RED with cine lenses, or broadcast cameras such as Sony's P1 with a zoom lens for live use. A retractable mount can be lowered once in the air to give the camera an unrestricted 360-degree view under the aircraft.

In addition to being a technical supporter of communications equipment for the IBC Auditorium throughout the show, Clear-Com introduced new additions to its LQ series. The three devices were the LQ-4WG2 (2x4-wire + GPIO), which comes as a small, portable unit; the LQ-R4WG8 (8x4-wire + GPIO) and the LQ-R2W4-4WG4 (4x2-wire and 4x4-wire + GPIO), which are both 1RU form. Clear-Com's Core Configuration Manager (CCM) software for setting up and linking the LQ devices was also updated with faster and more efficient system edits. A modern user interface, accessible from a browser, makes it easy to configure all LQ devices.

Egripment discussed its latest encoded solutions for its cranes, tracking dollies and remote heads at the show. The solutions include the 306/D Digital Remote Head, the 205/D Digital Remote Head, and the Xtreme T10 Telescopic Carbon Fibre Crane. As demand for virtual studios and AR increases, Egripment offers an encoding package to be used with its cranes, remote heads, telescopic columns and dollies for Virtual and Augmented applications. Virtually any axis can be used in VR by using optional encoders whether it is for use on a crane dolly on track or a telescoping column, in combination with the company's Trackmen tracking interface.

Ikegami celebrated its 70th anniversary at the show, and unveiled a number of new products. It was an IBC debut for the 4K-native 2/3 inch UHK-430 portable broadcast camera and the HQLM-3120W 31 inch 4K UHD LCD monitor. These were displayed alongside the new HDL-F3000 multi-format ultra-low-light camera and the new MCP-300 Network Master Control Panel.

Ikegami also demonstrated interoperability between its HDL-45E 3-CCD multi-purpose HD camera and Ross Video's DashBoard open network platform. The Ikegami HDL-45E is a multi-purpose HD camera with three 2/3-inch 2.3 megapixel AIT CCD imagers, an LSI processor and high quality 14-bit analog to digital converters. It can be used in lighting levels down to 0.065 lux without frame accumulation, or 0.00054 lux with frame accumulation. Applications include 3D video rigs, pole cameras and security. Ikegami developed the interface for DashBoard, an open platform from Ross Video for facility control and monitoring allowing the POV camera to be controlled over a TCP/IP network. The DashBoard enables users to build tailored CustomPanels that make complex operations simple, providing control and monitoring within the openGear and DashBoard Connect ecosystem.

Jünger Audio continued to promote its Smart Audio concept. Peter Poers, CEO, explained: "In a world where resources are tight and broadcasters can't afford to employ an entire team of audio engineers to manage sound quality at every position, Smart Audio is the future. The only way to ensure that viewers receive a consistent, clear audio experience is to utilize a chain of intelligent and adaptive real time processing algorithms working together. This is what Smart Audio means: delivering high quality sound in a very efficient way, with minimal requirement for manual control or intervention from an operator."

Alongside adaptive processing algorithms, Smart Audio allows broadcasters to choose devices that are fully interoperable with others in the broadcast environment and can seamlessly integrate with both playout automation systems and logging and monitoring processes. Jünger Audio also displayed its range of D*AP products that can deliver a Smart Audio experience; each device already incorporates a collection of the algorithms.

Leader demonstrated its test and measurement solutions, including the LV5490 4K/UHD/3G-SDI/HD-SDI/SD-SDI broadcast T&M platform. Three new options for the LV5490 multiscreen waveform monitor were introduced; they are High Dynamic Range measurement, 12G-SDI connectivity, and support for Sony's IP Live Video, and the Networked Media Interface technology. An impending fourth option for the LV5490, which was previewed at NAB2016, provides support for analysis of high frame-rate 4K signals at up to 8x real-time.

It was the European launch of Photon Beard's new Highlight LED range. Available in 90, 180, 270 and 360W variants, the Highlight LEDs relate directly to 2,4,6, and 8 tube fluorescents. Each fixture comes with a five-year warranty that includes output level and colour quality. All models can also be supported with a minimum number of spare light modules for easy replacement in the field.

Peter Daffarn, MD, Photon Beard, said: "The Highlight LED range delivers the genuine power saving advantages of LED to lighting rigs but with no compromise on light quality. By directing more of the light to where it's needed, very much like a fluorescent fixture, the Highlight LED retains the appropriate level of softness while maximizing efficiency."

Photon Beard also featured its Redhead LED range.

PlayBox Technology unveiled enhancements to its AirBox Neo solution, including compatibility with Microsoft Windows 10 running on the latest certified Intel CPUs including the sixth generation Core I7 and the Xeon Processor E5 v4 Family, advanced automation, ingest control for CaptureBox Neo, Service Description Table support on streaming outputs, automatic playlist export on playlist changes, and extended third-party playlist import plus support for closed-caption data from MXF files. A full production version of the company's CloudAir was also available.

"CloudAir is totally software-centric and able to provide full-scale playout with graphics on any enterprise-class blade, rack or tower server. Once the software is installed, no auxiliary hardware is required at all. This is an ideal structure for third-party service-providers," commented Don Ash, president, PlayBox Technology.

RTS introduced new partyline products at IBC. The new beltpack models BP-4000 (single-channel version) and BP-5000 (dual-channel version) come in a new design and a plug and play concept. They are designed for professional use and the specific needs of larger broadcast productions with fixed user positions. The RTS BP-4000/BP-5000 allows users to cover larger distances without requiring additional equipment such as repeaters. The devices are available with either 4- or 5-pin XLR headset connectors allowing for a range of headset options; both dynamic and electret headset microphones are supported. Both the BP-4000 and BP-5000 beltpacks come with smart power management technology. Once plugged in, the beltpack automatically recognises the wiring scheme and configures the unit for either the Audiocom, RTS or Clear-Com format. The setup of the beltpacks is simplified by voice guidance – short prompts help the user navigate through the menu options, eliminating the need to configure internal jumpers or switches. Furthermore, an enhanced talk button control offers the choice between "always on", "always off" or "switching". In addition to a blinking incoming call lamp as visual feedback, the BP-5000 two-channel beltpack from RTS provides the user with immediate haptic feedback of an incoming call using a vibration alert. A remote mic-kill function allows any user to send an inaudible "microphone kill signal" which instantly mutes every beltpack mic in the partyline.

Sachtler introduced the FSB 10, a new entry-level 100mm fluid head. It has a higher payload than the 75mm FSB 8, handling up to 12kg (26.5lbs) and allows users to employ a wider range of system configurations. The head comes in two versions with different camera platforms, including the FSB 10 with convenient sideload mechanism with long sliding range for front/back adjustment of the camera of FSB 10 T with Touch & Go plate for fast camera attachment. The FSB 10 features five positions + 0 for pan and tilt drag, giving operators better flexibility and speed. It also offers 10 steps of counterbalance.

Square Box Systems showcased CatDV 12, the latest version of its MAM system which features an updated and streamlined user experience along with native support for Square Box Systems' Server 7. CatDV 12 also includes enhanced support for audio files such as an advanced waveform display, VU meters, and the ability to handle more audio tracks. The system's logging and ingest capabilities have been updated, and the system can operate independent of specialised video players. The company also introduced Worker 7 for Linux at IBC. With full support for Linux environments, Worker 7 for Linux makes CatDV an ideal option for large-scale enterprise users who need to manage huge volumes of assets. It features an all-new media engine that supports all major video players, and includes new functions designed to make workflow automation and integration easier to deploy.

Tektronix unveiled solutions directly addressing technologies like 4K, HDR, wide color gamut, Video over IP and ABR. Prism enables media companies to make a practical transition to IP while preserving existing investments. A software-defined platform, it can accommodate a range of applications and the company has said this will continue to be updated as new technologies and standards emerge. The SPG8000A master sync and PTP grandmaster clock generator were also on show, as was Tektronix's WFM/WVR 8000 Series waveform monitors and rasteriers, now with HDR capabilities. The new features allow users to set correct white point and adjust levels to fully use the dynamic range of their content.

TSL Products demonstrated its video over IP (S2022-6) audio monitors. The new PAM-IP range is designed to smooth the transition to an IP-based workflow and is suited to any facility involved in the production and transmission of live productions. The PAM-IP range can monitor video, audio and its associated metadata from either a traditional 3G-SDI connection or a S2022-6 IP stream. It is designed to work in a hybrid environment where an SDI, AES and analogue-based infrastructure can be monitored alongside an IP-based infrastructure.

Pieter Schillebeeckx, Product Director at TSL Products, said that the "transition to an all-IP environment will not be immediate. For the foreseeable future at least, infrastructure will be hybrids where existing standards and technologies co-exist and interoperate with the new. With the new PAM-IP range, our customers are able to utilise their existing equipment alongside their IP infrastructure, safe in the knowledge that the PAM-IP is capable of evolving with the new Video and Audio over IP standards and protocols as they mature."

The IP variant of PAM1 and PAM2 will be available with several options including Video over IP (S2022-6 with other formats following), Audio over IP (Dante/AES67) and UHD (4K over 12G-SDI or Quad3G-SDI).

A new addition at this year's exhibition was the IBC IP Interoperability Zone, which aims to push forward open standards in new connectivity. Supported by AIMS and the IABM, and working with AES, AMWA, the EBU, SMPTE and VSF, a dedicated area demonstrated verified technical progress in IP interoperability. The VRT-EBU LiveIP studio also featured in the zone and was used for IBCTV's production at the show.

Another highlight of the IBC calendar was the well-supported IABM Design & Innovation Awards on Saturday 10 September, with the winners of the 10 categories announced on the night. They included VizRT in the Post Production category for its Viz Story solution; Shotover Camera Systems took the Acquisition & Production category with the Shotover U1; while Sony Professional was named the victor in the Storage category for its Sony Media Backbone Hive.

Peter White, CEO, IABM, said: "While market conditions for many companies are quite challenging at the moment, it is clear that many recognise that the way forward is through innovation, grasping the opportunity to offer their customers the new ways of working they demand."

John Ive, IABM Director of Technology and Strategic Insight, added: "Periods of major change and disruption in the industry stimulate some of the most exciting and innovative developments, with new generation solutions for a wider range of broadcast and media activities. All the applications embodied this trend which made selecting one winner a challenge for our judges. The standard was so high that the judges frequently praised the nominations that didn't even make the shortlist."

Overall, it appears that the show was – once again – a success, and a belief that Michael Crimp, CEO of IBC, shares; "The continuing success of IBC is down to the hard work of a lot of people, staging an event that is relevant and engaging across the whole of our transforming industry. We continue to evolve, and I am confident that next year's IBC – our 50th anniversary edition – will be even better."

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IBC2016: A Transfixing Transformation
Six days – Conference and Exhibition. Over 55,000 attendees. More than 1,800 exhibitors. 15 Halls. Miles of walking... and a whole lot of technology o