The International Broadcast Convention (IBC), held at the RAI in Amsterdam, is always a highlight on the calender of anyone with more than a passing interest in the equipment and technology side of the film and broadcast industry.
More than 50 000 industry professionals visited the show, making it not only the biggest IBC show ever – but generating a buzz of industry news, views and new business that reverberated around the world. These very strong numbers are a clear indication that the industry is robust and well on its way to recovery – and also that IBC continues to be relevant to everyone involved in creating, distributing and managing electronic media.
This year saw the launch of the IBC Leaders’ Summit – an expansion of IBC Connected World – and major keynotes from companies and vendors such as Facebook, Sony Corporation, Virgin Media and Vodafone. There was also a special appearance from James Cameron, while the award for the IBC International Honour for Excellence was given to Sir David Attenborough.
This was also the year of the great digital imaging camera 'war' – to quote Jim Jarnuch in the IBC daily paper distributed at the conference. With Arri's Alexa range, RED's Epics and Sony's F65, there have never been so many high-end players all gunning for the title as the best digital imaging camera on the market. There were other contenders but, as far as the high-end market is concerned, it basically comes down to these three in the end. In my opinion there is one camera that will lead the pack in the year to come – the Sony F65 – partly because it shoots an unrivaled 16 bit RGB signal at 4K with a max frame speed of 120 fps, and partly because Sony has really come to the party in terms of pricing on this camera system.
The F65 will be in the region of R750 00 – which includes the camera body with a mechanical rotating shutter, eyepiece magazine dock, solid state drives and the drive docking station for data duplication and delivery. It's just awesome.
The other sector of digital acquisition prevalent this year was stereoscopic imaging and processing or, more commonly, 3D. There has been a surge in stereoscopic rig development in the past year – and as such there was an overwhelming amount of new rigs on display. In my view the range of stereoscopic rigs on show was a direct result of the rapidly emerging 3D broadcast market worldwide.
I was very fortunate to sit in on a demonstration by James Cameron and Vincent Pace on the new Cameron/Pace rig derived from the prototypes used on Avatar. The other established players like 3ality, Elements technica and P&s Technics all had their latest offerings on show, and I was pleased to see that the South African Pro Ultra rig, which we supply on rental, was not only well in the game but also the most cost effective-motorised solution on the show.
With new advancements and workflows constantly emerging from the digital camera acquisition market, the post processing tools to deal with these camera formats are also continually in development. Of great interest to us were cost-effective solutions for dealing with data processing that would complement our finishing systems at my company HDHub – Blackmagic's Davinci Resolve and Filmlights Baselight.
Among all the products on show one stood out– Assimilates Scratch Lab. Some of the most impressive facts about Scratch Lab is that it has an incredibly fast interface and that it is frame-rate and resolution-independent, which makes all the difference in dealing with multiple formats and codecs originating from a variety of digital cameras. I believe this product will not only set the standard, but will become the most utilised system for dealing with transcoding and on set-services such as applying LUTs and processing offline files and dailies.
We left IBC with a major sense of assuredness in the products we supply in the rentals market – and also confident in knowing that no matter what new camera codecs arrive on the market, we have the workflows and systems in place to deal with them – and provide the market with unparalleled service.
_Stefan Nell is Head of Digital Imaging for the Visual Impact group in SA
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