If weather has anything to do with the way a show is perceived, the somewhat unexpected sunshine and warmth that were the norm outside the RAI at IBC2018 may be blamed for creating a sense of optimism that might be hovering just above reality.
Words like ‘disruptive,’ or ‘rapidly changing,’ should be making industry types a bit nervous, as these oft-repeated descriptors of what’s been going on in media are quite appropriate. But the mood for most mirrored the gorgeous week of weather.
Perhaps it reflects something mentioned by Avid CEO and President Jeff Rosica at the IABM breakfast, where he was a panellist. While mentioning the huge changes buffeting the industry and the interesting fact that subscriptions were already the largest and fasted growing part of Avid’s business, Rosica noted that several industry transitions had now all reached a level of critical mass at the same time.
He said that at IBC2018, real transitions involving the Cloud, 4K, HDR, and IP were happening together in a significant way. Indeed, it really seemed that for the first time in a few years several important industry transitions had simultaneously reached a level of reality that was driving business or already saving or making organizations money. Think AoIP, IP everywhere and deeper than ever in ‘live,’ the Cloud, and 4K/HDR. Notably, immersive audio had more than a few mentions on the floor and in sessions.
IP audio, and more, maturing nicely
The audio side of the industry has perhaps occasionally been too quick to cede its importance to the ‘moving picture’ side of the media world. It has nonetheless been a real leader in bringing IP deeply and broadly in to its workflows and kit.
Indeed, at IBC2018 IP audio seemed quite established, and products for a more mature market were on the floor. Key industry leader Audinate displayed a range of solutions for filling in gaps between analogue islands and networks using Dante-compatible kit. Also, Audinate’s now established Dante Domain Manager software for controlling its networks had an upgrade release at the show.
For its part Ravenna had a big presence outside Hall 8 and several new product launches at Ravenna partners. Clearly the market is reflecting maturing standards such as the increasing adoption of AES67 (itself only about 5 years old) and now ST2110 for the audio part of the video-over-IP transmission.
Just a few years ago AoIP was quite a bit more conceptual and still being figured out in practice. This was not the case at IBC2018, where one theme of the show was that AoIP was very real, and paying dividends in terms of simpler facility designs, lower costs, and increased compatibility. This year at IBC, things that have been talked about for a few years were actually happening.
And while IP in non audio arenas is in some cases lagging a bit behind audio, the theme of reality taking over from hype or hope was seen across the show.
Peter Russell, Technology Director, Studios, ITV, used his time at the IABM breakfast to point this out as far as the cloud was concerned. Russell said that while the cloud concept has been around for a long time, the scale and size of video files has prevented it from being properly leveraged until now. Power and bandwidth have caught up to where they need to be. Real.
What else was notable? Some said that the trend toward higher resolution was real, but not moving quite as fast as other trends. The cloud and IP can encourage rapid, cheap launch of new channels or temporary channels, centred around an election or big sport event perhaps. It also enables remote production, a big cost saver at things like Olympics or World Cups. Hi res does matter, but at the end of the day it is currently an expense rather than a cost saving tool, for many.
Resolution was still a driver. EVS had a press event where it announced that its servers would be powering NEP Australia as they start the live production of Australian cricket matches in UHD-4K. Marc Segar, NEP Australia’s Director of Technology, noted that NEP has the largest higher-resolution replay infrastructure in the world.
Segar was also happy to talk about a big story that happened just after the NAB show, but far enough before IBC that it might be missed. In late April NEP and Telstra delivered a trans-Pacific remote production over a 12,000 km distance using ultralow-latency compression technology and Telstra’s network.
Segar called that demo a ‘game-changer’ for broadcast television, proving anyone can work from anywhere more than ever before. He said the crew at NEP’s Sydney locale perceived no appreciable difference between covering the trial event in LA and the remote broadcast of an event from Perth last month. He was clearly sold on ‘very long distance’ remote productions after that experience.
Mike Werteen, Global President, NEP Broadcast Services, talking at the IABM breakfast, echoed Segar.
He said that events such as Olympics or World Cups used to be centred on cameras, hardware, studios and OBs, but in 2018 and moving forward these events will be much more about cloud based automated media asset management.
Something like AI will also be huge in sport production. Historically there was a bank of interns sitting at monitor computers logging the live contests at big sport events. When a goal or penalty happens, the intern hits a button and it is logged for highlights use. AI can do this, and MAM and PAM companies have started to incorporate the technology.
An immersive audio driver
Immersive audio is one of those things that is also talked about and starting to drive things a bit, becoming real. Genelec for example showed its new S360 two-way monitor and the 7382 subwoofer working as part of a 7.1.4 system with a selection of immersive material. The company also brought in Bernard Löhr, who mixed the music for the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again movie in immersive at Benny Andersson’s studios in Stockholm. Bernard gave a fascinating presentation with plenty of ‘inside’ insights on the studio and location sound recording and mixing for the film which included some riveting demos around matching reverbs between on location acapella vocals with pre-recorded tracks once the full orchestral backing kicks in.
Behind immersive for film, VR and mobile devices, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was mentioned by a few vendors as a driver for the technology. Indeed, the 22.2 channels of audio that accompany NHK’s Super Hi-Vision (on demo in the IBC Future Zone) will likely make a big splash on Japan’s home court in just two years.
Odds, ends, and really big data
One announcement of note that might have been missed was talk of audio intelligibility as needing additional monitoring. At IBC Fraunhofer IDMT worked with RTW on a real-time analysis tool that displays the current level of speech intelligibility in audio. Might this be a ‘next big thing?’
Those who have been to two decades or so of IBCs will remember the ‘invasion’ of software and computer companies many years ago. More than a few vendors noted the same thing happening of late with new players who cross vertical markets becoming more common than ever. It’s not just Amazon, but many companies from AR/VR, AI and other tech spheres seeing opportunity in Amsterdam.
Peter Russell of ITV noted that, after just completing an 18 month lift and shift move to a new HQ, he was now starting to ponder the future for system and technology strategy. He said this involved flexible systems and working with suppliers they have never worked with before. Solutions would be arrived at by working with partners and suppliers more than ever.
And input from new spheres is required. Speaking at the IABM breakfast, Brinton Miller, EVP of Technology Strategy & Ops for Discovery Communications, cautioned that financial pressures continue to increase. He said that non-linear content used to double every year, but that figure is now increased by an order of magnitude, which requires tech operations to be thought of as a content supply chain.
This content supply chain is driven by technology and automated systems. The sheer volume of demand means machine learning and technical automation are key. Production staff can and will focus their efforts in areas beyond managing workflows and interoperability.
An interesting perspective on this was offered by Perrine Bichet, the newly appointed Head of content Platforms, Management and Curating, at Belgian Telco and ICT company Proximus and former Director of Digital Platforms and VOD with Canal+. She astutely observed that whilst the whole content supply chain that matters, it’s now all about meta data which must be good as it is now critical to all system performance and automation. As she went onto say, meta data may not be the most sexy thing but it is clearly now the most important element to get right in the whole content supply chain.
For his part Avid’s Rosica opined that ‘disruption,’ is a constant and the new norm. He said it requires a business to essentially reinvent itself every decade.
Russell said he viewed the current climate as exciting and as a chance to build something new from scratch. Because production needs tend to grow or shrink very quickly, systems that can adapt quickly are needed. He mentioned these designs as the ‘the art of the possible,’ and not just using new tech to create replications of what was done before.
Beyond the briefs from the conference and floor, there was always the talk of Barcelona as an option for a future IBC after decades on the Dam. In 2018, this gossip was given new life given that the ISE show has recently announced its move from Amsterdam to Barcelona in 2021. The word we have is that IBC remain very happy with Amsterdam and clearly the show is already confirmed back at the RAI for 2019. And who needs sunny Spain if Amsterdam can pull off the lovely weather we saw this year!
Facebook Video Solutions
Lawo really getting into video
Richard Wear up close with the panel at IABM Business Breakfast
RW with ABBAs main sound man Bernard Löhr
IP Live radio with Media Park Live
Location vocals with Lily James
High Design with EVS
More world cup coverage with Signum
Back at the IABM for the new look 'BAM' awards. Hearing from Mike Crimp CEO of the IBC talking about BAM - create, produce, manage, publish, monetize, store, connect, support, consume.
Broadcasters need to be "sweating their assets" say both Peter Russell of ITV Studios and Mike Werteen of NEP Broadcasting to remain agile and efficient with their technology and facility investments.
Metadata is not sexy, but it's the most important thing today in the content supply chain, says Perrine Bichet of Proximus.
New Avid CEO Jeff Rosica has his eye on pivoting the business to respond to changing production and output needs with subscriptions continuing to grow faster than hardware sales. Disruption is the new norm!
Bit of a painful early start, heading to hear the latest on the state of the industry at the IABM business breakfast - see you around the show!