With IBC 2016 less than a week away, I’m interested to learn what technical progressions are being made, particularly in OB IP infrastructure. There is still an understandable nervousness among tier 1 OB providers to venture too far in to remote production. The wrath of a rights-holder whose live showpiece event gets taken off air by a cable breaking is a single point of failure risk too far. But the potential cost benefits are such that there must come a time when this becomes a reality. I’m just not sure it’s there yet. But for 2nd tier events where it’s not so mission-critical the technology exists right now.
In terms of kit and manufacturers that grab my attention, the 3 main broadcast manufacturers that we’ve probably done most business with are Sony, Arri and Canon, so I’ll certainly be heading to see what’s new there.
Canon ( Hall 12. D60 ) has just announced their headline act, the C700 camcorder, which looks really well specced, and attracting a lot of pre-show column inches.
The Sony ( Hall 13.A10 ) PXW-Z450 is the first 4K 2/3” shoulder-mount camcorder. Apparently it isn’t shipping until October but there should be beta models around to try.
The pinnacle of OB production camera technology is currently the Sony HDC-4300, which is starting to sell in greater volumes now. With its ability to be used as a standard speed 4K camera and an HD super-motion camera it is a very versatile camera to have in the fleet. But Sony has also announced the HDC-4800 which will allow you, at a price, to shoot 4K at 8x real time. The bit rates are more like telephone numbers but it’s extraordinary what is being achieved now.
Ikegami ( Hall 12.A31 ) has also added some new products and some new personnel to their range so I’ll be interested to see what they have to offer.
Continuing the OB Live Production theme, Fujinon ( Hall 12.B20 ) have made good headway, particularly in the UK, with their 4K 2/3” lenses proving popular.
I think this may be the 3rd show running that I have said that there will be announcements about a new higher-resolution Arri ( Hall 12.F21 ) sensor. I’ll be right one day, maybe this time. RED’s ( Hall 12.C71 ) 6K Weapon and Helium may force Arri’s hand this time. However in a time when there seems to be new cameras announced on an almost weekly basis, which just leads to confusion and paralysis about what camera to buy, perhaps it’s refreshing that Arri took the approach that they will make a really good camera ( I’d put both the Alexa or Amira in this category ) and then make it better by software updates rather than replacement models. It certainly gives the cameraman some confidence that his kit will be in-demand from production companies for a while. It’ll never get back to the days of digi-beta, but a good 3 or 4 years would be nice.
Newtek ( Hall 7. K11 ) has announced some significant new developments, based around their NDI architecture. It looks really clever and takes them very much in to the larger studio space that they have been knocking on the door of for some time now. The principal of NDI being totally scalable and limitless will be appealing to businesses looking to build a studio MCR that can expand as the business does.
Likewise with Ross Video ( Hall 11.B08 ) which continues to lead the way at the very top end of the Studio infrastructure sector, whilst their new Black Solo switcher brings a lot of the features you’d expect in top range switchers to a new entry level point. Their ACID camera is also interesting, designed specifically for green screen applications that they felt the standard camera manufacturers were not focusing on.
In the same sector, SAM ( Hall 9.A01 ) are really forging ahead with their Kula switchers. The merging of Quantel and Snell seems to be working well.
Zeiss ( Hall 12.F50 ) has been consistently adding lenses to its already extensive range, and I’m sure there will be more announcements at IBC.
HDR seems to be firmly established now, in HD at least. HDR in 4K adds yet another layer of difficulty and bandwidth demand, not least because there are still no standards that everyone is working to. If there was one version of HDR it would be so much easier for everyone to manage. Measuring these 4K HDR signals, particularly in live environments, is tricky too with Leader ( Hall 12.A10 ) and Tektronix ( Hall 10.D41 ) battling to provide the best solution.
VR is certainly exciting, and the Nokia ( Hall 15.MS25 ) Ozo seems to be ahead of the curve. A nice partnership with Disney to help promote their red carpet events helps, as does a tie-up with UEFA to cover a couple of Champions League games. There were interesting experiments around the Olympics too with VR. The key to the success of these technologies is to get some traction and show a financial return quickly. It can be the cleverest technology in the world but if it can’t make the transition from gadget to sustainable business model it will disappear as fast as it came.
Drones are still proving popular and the Shotover ( Hall 11.B44) , with an approximate 20kg payload looks pretty impressive, allowing full size lenses and cameras to get the shots previously possible only with smaller drones with inferior kit, or helicopters. The BBC Natural History like them apparently, so that tells me all I need to know.
What I really want to understand from the global manufacturers is the reaction to the UK Brexit vote. Has their attitude to the UK changed? The UK has been the largest TV market in Europe for many years, so they can’t afford to reduce their efforts. We’ve seen price rises from most of them in the past few months as sterling has suffered against the dollar, yen and euro. They may say they are selling less, but is it because they are losing out to competitors and using it as a brexcuse.
I look forward to seeing some of you there. Safe travels.