Prepared with my strong walking shoes and desire to discover, I joined the 55,000 plus visitors who trek to the IBC conference and exhibition held in Amsterdam every September.
The International Broadcast Conference (IBC) as its website proclaims, is the premier event for professional creation, management and delivery of entertainment and news content worldwide.
Originating in the UK in 1967 with just 32 exhibitors, it has grew rapidly, moving to Amsterdam as an annual event in 1994. By 2015 there were nearly 1,600 companies showcasing to visitors 70% which are from Europe and overall from 170 countries.
As you may imagine, there is masses of space, with every single thing you could desire to create, run and distribute TV. Cameras, studios, carry cases, satellite dishes, production equipment, outside Broadcast Vans, software of all varieties and even small helicopters, it all is here.
There is simply so much happening that they boast an IBC 24hr a day TV channel and a daily 80 page newspaper, magazine & exhibition guide.
Having spent the time wandering the display halls, here are my personal top 5 of what caught my eye.
1. Best gadget toy – This has to be the drone. There were simply so many varieties available both large and small that could be used to shoot the images, which have been impossible to capture. Look out for amazing high images in entertainment shows and news over the coming year.
2. Best innovation trend – Virtual Reality is the clear winner, with big and small technology companies all showing off the VR capabilities that their cameras could create. Currently it seemed hardware heavy rather than showing stunning content. My guess here is that the content experimentation, will see lots of ideas being tried in the year, and time will tell whether this trend hits traction or bites the dust like 3D TV has.
3. Biggest broadcast trend – The move to cloud software solutions and OTT (Over the Top TV) were everywhere too. There are dozens of new ways to create TV services that can operate using IP delivery and scheduling, an indication that broadcasters and newbie broadcasters are in need of simple cost effective ways to create more and more internet TV options.
4. Best consumer to professional shift – This was GoPro. They had an impressive stand with showcased how the little cameras you can buy in your local electronics store can be used to create amazing personal action shots from many very unreachable places for normal cameras. Look out for these popping up in many sports and action adventure series.
5. Most fun stand – There was a lot of creative stands including having basketball players shooting hops and the chance for people to see their soccer goal kicking ability created into an instant TV replay. I hadto give this to a buzzing TiVo stand with the winning combination of creating cocktails and giving away special ice cream.
The TV industry is clearly changing through the evolution of digital across all aspects of the business. Everywhere you turn digital and cloud technology is driving adaptation. The cameras are smarter and robotic, the production facilities are powered by IP connected systems, and previewing, editing and distribution are almost fully virtual operations with pictures, sound and schedules moving around smoothly in harmony. It is early days for Artificial intelligence, and yet, there were a few examples of how this may be the next step for the complexity of running a TV service.
The ‘Future Zone’ showcased stunningly high quality pictures, that reinforce that given the choice there is still so much content that really shines on a big screen, and I suspect always will do.
It is clear that 55,000 professionals are embracing change and collectively adapting the business they love. So the death of TV, I would suggest is a long way off. I can see IBC conferences being here for decades to come, which personally is fantastic for a passionate broadcast geek like myself!