Ikegami has a new spring in its step, and were showing off their 8K studio camera which has been involved with many of the tests NHK were showing in the Future Zone at IBC, but more likely to find some immediate traction is the 4K UHK-430 studio camera. Ikegami has taken the unusual step of joining both the AIMS technology group AND the ASPEN initiative, and you can request your flavour of protocol at point of purchase. The data coming from the camera head is uncompressed 4:4:4 and gives some stunning pictures. The recent successes for Ikegami have almost exclusively been centred around Northern soap operas, so let’s see if there are any more takers in a Live Production sector dominated currently by Sony.
Dolby had some hugely impressive audio developments around immersive sports audio, and their ability to stream many audio streams without taking up valuable bandwidth was really impressive. The demonstration suite was incredible with the operator removing all but the stadium sound to put you actually in the sports arena. The ability to send multiple commentary feeds down one signal could prove a huge bonus on large sporting events too, with the receiver able to select the audio feed / language he wants for his particular broadcast and disregard the rest. There is also a road-map to give this control to the viewer at home, and that would be amazing to give the viewer at home a chance to mix their own audio.
As far as an IBC theme, without doubt VR has captured the attention, and the stand space of many exhibitors. I would say that this, more than HDR, HFR, IP or the K race was the dominant theme.
But speaking with some highly knowledgable VR protaganists, they were concerned that it needs to be good VR. VR isn’t easy. Shooting requires great skill and experience, and the video stitching requires a great deal of care, and IT grunt. And that’s before you even get to the headset, which is preferably not made of Cardboard. Badly produced VR may give the impression that the technology isn’t ready and may knock the market’s confidence in it as a credible technology.
I saw a lot of VR and most of it was just OK. The resolution is the most immediately disappointing part as we are used to pin sharp HD/4K images and VR technology can’t deliver this yet. The best example I experienced was the Sony Playstation experience. The headset gave it a huge advantage as it was quality ( it launches next month ) gaming headset which fitted well and put your eyes in the optimum position to view the content. The demonstration of a Premier League game was impressive and the additional functionality of the handset and the immersive feeling that it gave was extraordinary. And most importantly there seems a path to make some money from the technology. Look out for VR offerings in your home over the next few months.
But as a VR camera, the Nokia Ozo is stealing a march on most of the competition. There has been a lot ground work done with extensive testing around some Champions League games last year and the Olympics. It is imperative though that there is a clear business model for VR or it could come and go as fast as 3D did before it.
One commonly overlooked factor around VR is the audio, and Sennheiser had a clever quad-directional mic which was used on set with the camera and gave an extra dimension of immersiveness.
The SVG remains the go-to community for anything sports related. The panel session on OB technology with Telegenic, Arena, NEP and SKY was first class and was really well mediated. Dave Shields, the new Chairman, put it very well. “The manufacturers pay a lot of money for the privilege of coming to hear what we need them to do”. This is a nice shift and puts the onus on the manufacturers to listen to what the industry is demanding of them, rather than them making products with features that the industry then needs to find a use for. The move to IP production is inevitable, and this was a hot topic at the talk. Arena’s new truck attracted a lot of comment as the first to go totally IP with no SDI “layer”. Remote production will be the next big step, and I was talking to a major sporting head who has already completed tests with IP technology. In these tests, all the facilities and recording of the match took place in the US, as was the switcher crate, but the switcher control panel and director were in London. The director mixed the game remotely over IP with negligible delay, so this part works. The next bold step is to remote- locate the video streams, audio, comms, and everything else that goes on on-site, leaving just the cameras on site, and that seems a huge leap to far currently with so much at stake for the rights-holder and facility companies.
Britain’s Brexit vote was also an issue that raised its head on a few occasions. Pretty much every manufacturer has increased its UK prices due to the significant sterling devaluations against the yen, euro and dollar.
Interestingly, one sector that appears to have already been affected is the education sector. One of the leading manufacturers was adamant that the universities were nervous as overseas student numbers were noticeably down, which will reduce the universities’ incomes. This was also confirmed by UK Screen Association CEO Neil Hatton who talked about there being far more places available through the University clearing system than in previous years.
More concerning in the short term for our industry were his comments that creative talent from the EU could being lured away from the UK due to the uncertainty over the long term ability to work in the UK. The fall out of the Brexit vote will go on for years, but I’m also aware that some may well use it as a brexcuse for falling sales.
So a pretty impressive IBC. What does occur to me is that everyone’s experience of IBC is different. I was there for 4 days and didn’t even make it to half of the halls. And for an exhibitor, such is the cost of these events that it’s all staff on their own stand at all times to maximise any opportunities, there is no chance to go out and get a more rounded view of competitor products and complimentary technology. The Beach was as popular as ever as a networking opportunity. Our industry is immensely gregarious and I’m sure almost as much business benefit comes from a post-show drink and chat as the hours we spend on the stands themselves.
All constructive comments welcome.
This article was published on Broadcastnow.co.uk
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