Monthly Archives: September 2017

IBC 2017 – Well? What did you think?

Recovering from the wettest IBC in recent memory, it should be remembered for a show of major product announcements and warm welcomes.

Having started our equipment finance business just a few short months ago, we continue to be bowled over by the levels of encouragement, and business, we’ve received. We are truly grateful.

Arriving to a soggy Amsterdam on Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to be on the guest list, along with over a 1000 others, to a proper “old school” manufacturer show party. Arri put on an amazing event to celebrate their 100th year, and thank you to them for a truly memorable evening. Now there’s a company with a quality pedigree and a legacy for being at the top of their game. Their Midas touch shows no sign of stopping, and although there was no “next big thing” announcement, the Arri band wagon continues unabated. I guess it’s handy that the big upcoming film Bladerunner 2049 was all shot on Alexa. Far better to let Roger Deakins tell everyone how amazing the Alexa is than Arri themselves. Deakins liked “ the certain texture and activity in the image” even over the Alexa65, and if Roger says it’s good, who am I to disagree.

Sony had 2 major announcements. Well, one and a half maybe. The Venice was actually announced the week before at an American Society of Cinematographers LA event, rather than the Broadcast-centric IBC event, clearly indicating that Sony sees this camera in the digital cinema space, rather than mainstream TV. Nevertheless there was considerable fuss around it on the show floor, and the specs are super-impressive. However it’s not released until February, and this will only be a cut down version, with the full resolution, higher frame rate options to follow on future software and firmware updates. A very clever friend of mine told me on the Sony stand that the key development of the camera is the back end, not the front end. The RAW recording compression is much more powerful than the Arri equivalent, and storage and workflow costs may be significantly cheaper. Not a big deal for the big-budget Bladerunner type features, but this will come in to play for more budget-sensitive productions. I’d welcome feedback from any techs on this aspect.

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This means nothing to me…ah Venice.

Sony also announced the UHC-8300 8K studio camera, which fortunately can also produce a 4K, and even a lowly HD image simultaneously. It’s immensely impressive, but when we are all currently playing catch up with the migration from HD to 4K, and throw in HDR and HFR for good measure, it begs the question “why now?”. Surely they have one eye on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with NHK driving the K race. The IBC Future Zone has featured 8K proof of concepts for a few years now, but we have a long way to go in less than 3 years if we are going to see an 8K 100 metre final in our homes, when I currently see this screen at home each news time.

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Hello…is there anybody in there.

Sony also had their increasingly popular HDC-4300 4K studio channels on show, and it would be a bit remiss of me to let the opportunity pass by without mentioning an old friend, Simon Roe of Zest4TV who I have just helped buy some of these channels. Cue cheesy IBC stand photo …

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Me, Simon Roe and Ben Murphy, ES Broadcast MD, who supplied the cameras

Panasonic has been talking about the EVA forever it seems, and we finally got to see an impressive show reel on the stand. They’ve packed a lot in to a little box, and I like that it’ll be fully working when it’s released at the end of October, rather than having to wait for the upgrades. Just a note though that don’t expect to call your local friendly reseller on launch day and expect to pick one up on the day. I’m told that back orders are significant so I’d suggest you get an order in now if that’s your camera of choice and attend the various dealer events that will no doubt be happening between now and launch date. I do like that this camera records on to generic SD cards, but buy the good ones. If you buy Panasonic cards they’ll even claim to be able to find your material even if you can’t and you fear you’ve lost the shot.

Canon snuck in the launch of the XF-400 and XF-405 under the radar, and these are fixed lens hand-held camcorders which can shoot in up to 4K resolution. They are also now shipping the previously announced C200, which is a single sensor digital cinema type camera and the latest entrant in to a already crowded market sector.

One product that I did like on the Canon stand was a tie up with a military hardware manufacturer Sesanti. They’ve made a totally weatherproof PTZ housing that holds a big box lens and your system camera of choice, which could be positioned and left for the duration of a big project. I’m thinking 3 weeks of a Winter Olympics on top of a ski slope where the camera could be controlled, powered and the video taken from it, all from the comfort of an OB truck in the compound.

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Saving cameramen from frost bite one Winter Olympics at a time. It works in temps from -30°C to + 70°C.

Concerning news from RED that they have let some experienced staff go in a big European restructure. Some are friends of mine, and I hope they find positions elsewhere soon.

Other notables for me were the new SSL System T IP audio mixer, which I know was drawing crowds from the OB world. The ability to use AoIP ( Audio over IP ) seems to be attractive as video looks already to be headed along the same path.

And Dolby is always a favourite stand of mine. Their technical advances are extraordinary and all of your favourite fruit-based technology devices will be using it soon. Their sealed-door audio demos are always a treat too. The Kop never sounded so good, and I’m sure they’ll never walk alone.

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I love a party with a happy Atmos

I also loved the Motion Impossible remote dolly system. Think really awesome remote control car with a motion control heavy duty camera rig on it, capable of moving on a track or over any terrain. The 2 owners are a perfect mix too, a techy “geek” and freelance cameraman, and the industry is getting to love their product. Great work guys.

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Neil Armstrong could have used this

Newtek had some innovative developments, particularly around their NDI technology. A couple of products caught my eye…they have an NDI enabled PTZ camera head, which only requires a single cable, carrying power, the HD video signal, and controlling the PTZ function. For entry level auditoriums / lecture theatres / small sports environments it seemed like a neat solution, particularly as it would integrate in to their production workflow with Tricaster and 3Play. They’ve also partnered with top-end graphics company Vizrt to create a really powerful graphics package. It looked impressive on the demo.

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Count the cables. 1. That’s it.

There seems to be no stopping Ross Video currently, and they continue to bring innovative products to market and project a “major player” reputation, while maintaining the personal touch. The hugely impressive end to end studio production solutions, all controlled by their Dashboard GUI are very slick. And to have the company owner, David Ross himself, on hand to engage directly with their clients must be a huge help for the sales staff. They just seem to keep doing the right things, and if I was going to be investing in that much kit for my studio, I’d like the big boss to engage with me too.

Editshare seem to be doing well, and were pretty vocal ( and why wouldn’t they be ) about winning the IBC2017 Design and Innovation Award for Storage for their EFS Single-Node Scale Out storage technology. It certainly seemed like a good way for smaller production companies to take on larger projects with higher and higher data rates without the need for large and expensive storage clusters.

Object Matrix is another company doing well in the storage and archive space. The Matrixstore archive system seems to be popular, and if you missed the news that ITN has just adopted the technology for their entire archive, you were just not paying attention.

I really liked the technology tie up between Associated Press ( AP ) and LiveU. Imagine you’re a jobbing freelance cameraman, working day to day and trying to fill your own diary. If you signed up for the AP/LiveU web site ( and passed AP’s vetting process to establish that you know what you’re doing ) you can list yourself on their web site, and any news organisation globally can review your profile and book you for a job. Future developments of the site may also allow a news organisation that knows of a breaking news story to see the location of all cameramen who have the app on their phones (think find-my-iphone) , and text the nearest one to the incident and ask if they want to cover the event, and agree a fee. The cameraman would need the LiveU hardware that allows a high quality video signal to be sent over a mobile phone network to a receiver which many Broadcasters already have anyway. It’s not a new concept. I wrote about it 2 years ago as LiveU competitor TVU can do the same thing, but it does not seem to have taken off yet.

Take this concept a stage further and at some stage in the future a cameraman who happens to be in the wrong place at the right time and films a newsworthy event could upload a watermarked, proxy video on the web site, and invite bids if any news agencies wants to make an offer. The opportunities are open-ended and I genuinely can not think why any cameraman would not want to sign up? Do any cameramen out there have any thoughts on this? Feels a bit like a camerman’s version of Tinder, but it might bring some work in!!

I’ve written previously about my thoughts on trade shows. See previous Linked In article “ Why do you attend BVE?” in March this year, and nothing I saw over the weekend changed my view. I’ve no doubt the major exhibitors, in my world that’s Sony, Arri , Panasonic etc, all spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on their few square metres of prime real estate, which for those 5 days will be the most expensive on the planet. It seems the fear of not being present drives the exhibitor’s paranoia of missing out on the next big customer. And think of the huge head count required to staff the big stands, and the ridiculous mafia-style hotel price fixing and restaurant bills, and you have a financial gravy train. Try booking a hotel room either side of IBC and see how much you save. Could the manufacturers use their marketing money more effectively? I see a lot of money flowing straight out of our industry in to the large event venues like the Excel and the RAI. Like the millions of pounds paid to football agents, it just seems that if you were starting from scratch, this isn’t how it would be.

And to further muddy the financial muddle, we all go, and it costs most of us nothing to attend. How is that? or rather why is that? To network with the worlds TV professional data-base surely is worth something? If we all paid €50 this might reduce the costs for the exhibitors and encourage smaller manufacturers to attend? If you don’t think it’s worth €50, why do you bother going anyway? My business, Adamantean, is a new start business and we were prudent in most things that we did. For example, we saved a fortune using Airbnb for 3 of us to stay in an apartment, shared cabs where we could and we’ll still have spent the best part of £2,000 on IBC.

The obvious way to reduce the cost is to make the show 4 days. Friday to Monday seems plenty long enough to me. Is anyone making any sense by day 5 anyway? And reading other post-show reviews and social media comments there seems to be a ground-swell of opinion thinking the same. Thoughts anyone?

And the Beach Bar!! They’ve broken the beach Bar. Anyway, back in Blighty now, and following up on all the positives that came from what was genuinely the most encouraging trade show I’ve ever attended.

Thoughts and responses always welcome.

Heineken anyone?

Cheers

Duncan