IBC is nearly upon us, and
the industry is readying itself for the annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam.
Manufacturers have traditionally used the annual NAB show in Vegas to launch
new products and features, and the IBC show in Amsterdam to actually ship or
deliver those features and products to market when possible. There are
exceptions to this of course- manufacturers like Adobe and Apple, and
increasingly Avid, no longer tie their activities to trade shows, choosing
rather to release updates to subscribers in point releases and maintenance
builds as part of their subscription plan.
However even with these
vendors there will be event specific announcements for IBC that will stir
interest amongst the creative community, let’s try and read the tealeaves at
the bottom of the pre IBC cup for what we think will be on the way.
Modern production workflows
with large format file originals place significant demands on users to work
collaboratively and manage shared workflows. Expect enhanced toolsets from
broadcast and post vendors seeking to ease the pain of managing the process
from origination to archiving, proxy workflows and conforms. Expect ‘cloud
based’ workflows (read shared synced collaborative projects) to be a standard
feature rather than an exception.
Increased numbers of
manufacturers will provide support for content that requires stitching and
preparation for working with VR material.
With platform services like
YouTube and Facebook supporting 360 video the ability to easily
produce correctly tagged content for these services players will become
increasingly important. More adoption of immersive VR experiences beyond gaming
and entertainment will be in evidence. Expect innovation in sport in
particular. The industry is still trying to figure out how to make money with
VR, and this year’s conference will be another step on that journey.
It has taken only a short
number of years for drones to become the de facto standard for a
significant amount of most aerial photography. With these craft set
to be an increasing aspect of our lives and the regulatory landscape struggling
to catch up with the proliferation of these devices, it’s a backdrop against
which we will see more improvements and innovation in terms of camera
capability, payloads, augmented AI control and of course battery
More 4K and 8K
Although only a small amount
of ‘greater than HD’ content is being ‘broadcast’ in the traditional
manner worldwide, a significant amount of 4K content is being
delivered within OTT (over the top) services. Organisations like Sky and Virgin
Media and BTSport in the UK, are preparing and delivering their UHD / 4K
offerings (Sky Q and 4K Tivo) from set top boxes and with games consoles
like PlayStation and Xbox supporting or looking to provide support in the near
future. Tts clear that unlike 3D, 4K is getting increasingly
longer legs. Cynics may argue that Microsoft will only properly support 4K
content in 2017 with their project Scorpio box, but the writing is on the wall
for 4K and greater frame sizes. It is without a doubt here to stay, and with
all the professional and prosumer cameras supporting it in some fashion, the
flow through to the end user is inevitable. That said, 4K televisions are still
relatively pricey for consumers and there could be a significant lag on
adoption. One can’t talk about any of this without talking about HDR, and although
a significant number of productions are shooting for and finishing in HDR
colour space, invariably a SDR master (standard dynamic range) is produced
alongside it for delivery. Although HDR produces an immediate and clearly
discernible difference, the ‘pipeline’ by which HDR material can be
reliably delivered into the home or end user devices doesn’t meaningfully and
reliably exist yet. However, several broadcasters are looking bring HDR to HD,
as this brings an immediate improvement and readily discernible difference,
however similar difficulties exist in ensuring the delivery of HDR over HD too.
More of the transition to
The transition of video and
audio over IP continues apace with more and more aspects of production being
part of the transition. The same challenges exist with standards in flux and
vendor adoption, subject to what can sometimes appear to be on somewhat partisan
lines. However, it is expected that this rapidly developing technology will
coalesce around a common set of standards and proposals well before 2020.
Today’s vendor specific solutions solve enough problems to make them attractive
enough to invest in today, thus driving adoption at a vigorous pace.
More of the same:
In conclusion, some seasoned observers may
suggest that the above is just more of the same. Certainly in broadcast and
post at the moment it is less revolution and more evolution as COTS (Commercial
off-the-shelf) IT technology revolutionises and democratises post and
broadcast. The bespoke hardware is there, it just now sits inside a
standard Intel I7 box. The transition to IP, the central importance of fast
10Gb and 40Gb networks in facilities and the rise of data tape as the end point
for content in archives are trends which are set fair to continue. What will
make life interesting will be the announcements and acquisitions around
these trends that will be the ‘news’ at the show this year.