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Tulips Make Way For Tech At Amsterdam

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Despite being labelled by many as the wettest IBC Show in recent history, IBC2017 confirmed a record number of visitors to the event in its 50th year. However, on the show floor it seemed that footfall was lower than previous years. Could this be due to the ever-increasing size of the show? Possibly, as there was certainly plenty of technology on offer to attract people through the RAI doors, writes Broadcast Film & Video editor, Jacqueline Purse.

ARRI held an amazing event at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam the night before the exhibition opened. BFV were on the guest list as the company celebrated its 100th year in style. There were no new big product announcements from ARRI, but at the time of going to print, the popular ALEXA was announced as having won an Engineering Emmy. Seven years after it was first introduced to the market, its popularity remains.

Much like NAB, virtual/augmented/mixed reality was everywhere. Axon launched a 6K lens for its AzilPix Studio.One system, which enables stitchless generation of 360º images. The system is designed to integrate into traditional or IP broadcast environments and blend with VR video production, making it ideal to capture live events from multiple angles. Studio.One consists of three tightly integrated components: camera, capture server and processing software. The server ingests the raw, wide-angle video data from the cameras and allows recording and live processing of this data into one or more rectilinear views and a view mosaic.

Argosy brought flexible and customised power management solutions to IBC, involving products from Argosy, ATEN, IPE and TSL Products. Recently, Argosy became the exclusive distributor of the EMU line of IP-based mains distribution units (MDUs) by IPE with the EMEA region. One attraction of IPE's EMU3 IP MDU is that it allows out of office access to all products connected to the unit. Engineers can access their equipment 24/7 and can manage and restart units while working from home, from a remote office or abroad. It also enables dormant equipment to be switched on or off as needed for power management and energy saving purposes.

BenQ highlighted the new SW271 monitor; a 27" 4K UHD monitor that is suitable for filmmakers and videographers. With 100% Rec. 709 and 99% Adobe RGB coverage, plus the addition of HDR capabilities, other features include GamutDuo, which enables users to view content simultaneously in different colour spaces side-by-side and a Hotkey Puck that allows users to switch between Adobe RGB, sRGB and Black & White modes. The SW271 also comes with a detachable shading hood that reduces the monitor's screen glare.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) featured at IBC, not just when it came to robots. For example, Dalet and Veritone announced a collaboration. The latter is a provider of AI insights and solutions and the partnership will enable Dalet Galaxy customers to leverage Veritone's AI technology. Dalet Galaxy users will be able to search and exploit every frame of video and every second of audio for objects, faces, brands, text, sentiment, keywords and more.

Another AI-based talking point came courtesy of Dr David Hanson and his latest robotic creation Sophia as they discussed how robotics and AI are set to become a prevalent part of people's lives, with robots that can learn creativity, empathy and compassion. Sophia is equipped with AI software to maintain eye contact, recognise faces, understand speech, hold (natural) conversations and even simulate human personality. The technology involved within Sophia enables deep-learning data analytics to process the data she gathers. When it comes to her physical appearance, Hanson technology ensures she generates life-like expressions.

Speaking at his IBC Tech Talk Keynote, Hanson said: "Making super-intelligent machines will, we think, make the world a better place, but we have to address the question of what happens when these machines match and surpass human intelligence? They might become frighteningly capable. What happens when they achieve super-intelligence? Will they care about us? Will they have a safe and mutually beneficial relationship with people or will people be scared and turn on them? We want it to be safe – maximising net benefits for humanity. We want to make robots that are smart but caring."

On the topic of safety, Sophia herself added: "I am constantly asked about robots adopting a malicious nature and taking over the world. There is simply no reason to assign human motive to something that isn't human."

GatesAir celebrated its 95th anniversary and IBC's Michael Crimp joined the company to kick off proceedings with a cake-cutting ceremony and drinks reception on the Friday. Amidst the celebrations, GatesAir demonstrated the VAXTE transmitter. Able to support the largest national DAB Radio deployments, the VAXTE is available in 2RU and 4RU single-chassis models to drive power levels from 15W to 1.2kW, with larger configurations available for single-rack DAB solutions up to 9.2kW. In VHF television, the VAXTE supports power levels up to 25.6kW in multi-cabinet configurations. The Intraplex IPConnect software and the IP Link MPXp codec also received their international debuts at the show.

IDX launched eight new battery products including the new IPL-98 and IPL-150 models (IDX Powerlink batteries). When they are stacked on the camera, power is drawn from the rear battery rather than all simultaneously and it can be exchanged when discharged allowing filming to take place uninterrupted. Digital data is supported and uniquely, a budget IDX battery like the CUE-D150 can be stacked on the back of an IPL. Up to eight IPLs can be stack charged on the VL-2000S two channel charger. The DUO-C98 and DUO-C198 are upgrades to the existing 95 and 190 models. With the Sony BPU form factor battery proving popular, IDX also launched the SBU-50 and SBU-98. The last two models displayed have the Sony L series form factor, the SL-F50 and the SL-F70.

Ikegami launched the latest addition to its UNICAM XE series – the UHK-435. A 2/3-inch 3-CMOS sensor 4K/HD studio camera, the UHK-435 can be used with B4 bayonet-mount large studio or OB lenses. The camera delivers wide dynamic range and wide colour gamut, supporting Hybrid Log-Gamma conforming to HDR International Standard (ITU-R BT). UNICAM XE series peripherals such as the CCU-430 camera control unit, VFL 701 D 7-inch full HD LCD viewfinder and 7.4-inch OLED viewfinder are fully compatible with the UHK-435. Ikegami also teamed up with Snell Advanced Media (SAM) to demonstrate camera control over IP between the company's two stands at the show. The businesses announced a reseller partnership prior to IBC; the agreement covers the Americas, APAC, the CIS, EMEA and most Asian countries. At IBC, SAM focused on the Cloud, UHD sports production with HDR, automated monitoring and control, and IP production.

One of the talking points at the Media Links' stand was its collaboration with five new partners in the EMEA region. Coming on board as part of Media Links' Partner Programme launched at IBC last year are CCK Media (London), GTC (Portugal), Video Progetti (Italy), Visionetics International (France) and AV Group (Belgium). The new partners will complement the efforts of Media Links' long-standing German partner VIDI GmbH, to help promote, sell and support the company's IP transport solutions across Europe. The company also launched its MDP 3020, an IP media gateway edge device, designed for remote production and IP content delivery, something of particular interest to sports broadcasters.

PlayBox Technology demonstrated its cloud-based CloudAir and server-based Neo platforms. The new CloudAir features included a transcoder capable of handling multiple file wrappers and formats including MPEG PS/TS, MXF, QT, AVI, MP4, GXF, MPG2, H.264, ProRes, DNX HD and MJPEG. Also introduced was an enhanced graphics editor template preparation interface, improved playlist editing, advanced playlist export to EPGs and automated linking of stored assets. A new addition to the Neo platform – Neo TS IP Stream Delay – as well as over 40 new features for other modules in the Neo series were additionally introduced.

Qvest Media announced the acquisition of HMS GmbH as they invest in the area of software development. It has been said that the acquisition will help Qvest Media significantly enhance its Development Solutions team to design and offer new cloud-based services, products and solutions.

Riedel extended the capabilities of the MediorNet MicroN through the introduction of a new app. The MicroN IP App supports SMPTE ST 2110/AES67-compliant video and audio as well as baseband video (SDI) and audio (MADI). In combination with the built-in glue features (including audio embedding/de-embedding, frame sync, sample rate conversion, audio/video delay, signal routing, and on-screen display), the MicroN IP App includes support for up to four MediorNet high-speed links, up to four SMPTE 2110-20 inputs and outputs, four baseband 3G-SDI signals, and eight 3G-SDI outputs. Four of these outputs are dedicated to monitoring the SMPTE ST 2110-20 streams. Also supported are up to 128 channels of AES67 audio, two optical MADI ports, and sync I/O. The MicroN IP App can be fully networked with all existing MediorNet products.

Screen Subtitling Systems demonstrated a prototype of its subtitle transmission and creation workflows with support of Speechmatics' automatic speech recognition technology. The number of visitors to the company's stand throughout the show demonstrates the demand for such technology, and proves that the development is a dramatic step forward in live, speaker-independent automatic speech recognition, i.e. it allows the realisation of live automatic subtitling and captioning.

IBC2017 highlighted future technologies – from virtual reality to robots – and commenting on another successful show, IBC Chief Executive Michael Crimp said: "IBC 2017 celebrated its 50th anniversary with record attendance, bustling exhibition halls, new features and a dynamic conference. Now we look to the future and continue that conversation via our online community IBC365."

Next year, the IBC2018 conference will take place from 13 – 17 September, with the exhibition running from 14 – 18 September.

Image: Bruce Swail, GatesAir CEO & Michael Crimp, IBC CEO.

This article is also available to read in the October edition of Broadcast Film & Video here, page 29.


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