IBC2018 has wrapped up, and has instigated a sense of learning, inspiration and long-lasting synergies
By ANISHA GAKHAR
Digital Studio was at Amsterdam this year for IBC2018, along with many of our industry peers, absorbing all the latest technologies and magnificent displays that were showcased. On my way back to home land, I was left with a surging inspiration, which had its roots in the depth of knowledge that I gained. IBC2018 welcomed 55,884 attendees to its 2018 chapter, whilst recording a 667 sqm increase in floor-space as compared to last year, to make it 53,710sqm of the RAI Exhibition centre in Amsterdam. What’s note-worthy is that the IBC App logged more than 91,000 interactions, lodging IBC at number one position on Twitter, in the Netherlands, on several days of the convention. It recorded 185 million potential impressions and over 250,000 video views. For those who missed out on the happenings, and those who did not and yet want a scoop on the excitement, read on. There is a lot to imbibe fromthe most lucrative insights filtered out from this year’s IBC2018 gala event.
“This show is about engagement, engagement, and engagement. The stats were up in almost all areas and re-bookings are ahead of last year,” said Michael Crimp, chief executive, IBC.
Crimp noted that it was important that the figures were placed within the context of all that IBC comprises of. “IBC is much more than just a trade show,” he iterated. “We have developed a basket of data-driven statistics including sales leads generated on stands, conference attendance and IBC365 views. IBC is benefiting from the convergence of technology,” he added. He also explained that the exchange of information and energy is pivotal to the longevity of IBC’s success, and sits at the very core of the business.
He cited IBC365, the digital home for the global media, entertainment and technology community, which increased its subscriber bases to more than 55,000, by the close of the show. Notably, IBC2018 has driven a number of new initiatives this year, the most critical being diversity and gender equality across the conference. The percentage of women speakers dramatically saw a steep rise this year, in contrast to that in 2017. Last year, 14% of IBC speakers were female. In 2018, this figure figures rose to 37%.
With content hailed as the ‘killer app’ for 5G, consolidation between telcos and media firms is inevitable; attendees of the Telco & Media Innovation Forum were told. Broadcasting industry veteran Dr Abe Peled, chairman, Synamedia, cautioned fellow industry peers of the grave economic threat posed by a recent ripple of piracy. He quoted, “Streaming piracy is a scourge.”
Media industries have reportedly increased their investment on original content fivefold, while at the same time enabling piracy by means of streaming IP. A former NDS executive, who has had a history of fighting against piracy for majority of his career, explained to the Forum that pirates could now buy the equipment needed to capture and redistribute a channel illegally for as low as $500.The pirates, he added, always followed where the money was.
The IBC2018 showcase was spread across a sprawling campus, with umpteen halls dedicated to the showcase of almost every latest augmentation under the sun. This year saw a number of concepts like the Content Everywhere hub, which combined a dedicated exhibition with features designed to help visitors efficiently expand their knowledge and understanding of the latest trends, strategies and developments in online TV and video.
The IP demonstration was dedicated to educating attendees on the business and creative potential of IP media solutions. A host of presentations and practical demos were organised covering the concept of building a flexible, efficient system, focussed on the creative and workflow potential offered by standards-based IP solutions. IP-enabled kits and the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) were among the trends in halls 1, 4 and 5, reported by IBC Daily reporter, Ian McMurray.
Hall 14 continued to expand and grow into one of the most intriguing spaces at IBC, this year addressing the topics, OTT delivery and the issue of latency, as stated by IBC Daily reporter, Anne Morris. The IBC environment instigated current trends that the media industry is expected to harness in the coming times. Leading media visionaries from Havas, C4, Amazon and Liberty Global predicted that voice control will play a pivotal role in enhancing the TV viewer user-experience.
A LOT TO ABSORB
Technical papers from companies like Ateme, BBC R&D and Divideon, shed light on the serious disquiet in the world of video compression and codec wars, thereby predicting future performance gains. IBC2018 also had dedicated debate sessions which garnered brainstorming and a knowledge transfer from industry pioneers. The state of scripted, the future of linear TV and the effectiveness of digital advertising were topics of debate at a session devoted to debunking received wisdom in TV.
IBC had in store a lot for those in the field of production too. Technical papers and presentations from media conglomerates like Dolby Laboratories, Sennheiser, EVS, UEFA and BT Technology unveiled exciting technology developments in the sports production arena. Other technical papers focus on the challenges encountered while create colour-accurate immersive experiences at a cinematic quality level, limitation of the human visual system (HVS) known as the simultaneous contrast range (SCR), current work undertaken by the BBC to look at the representation of human skin tone in ITU-R BT.2100 High Dynamic Range (HDR) video systems, steps taken to apply blockchain technology to the video value chain to ensure genuineness of media assets and effectively manage production and distribution, amongst many others.
Technical papers released by leaders in the field, including Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute and Ubisoft Paris, deep dive into future generations of immersive media, viz Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).
Another Tech Talk addressed the topic of visual excellence in production. Meaningful insights from researchers and vision scientists – from the BBC, RheinMain University and Technicolor, helped comprehend how to ensure the precision of HDR and colour in image capture.
CONFERENCES, FORUMS AND OTHER TRACKS
IBC2018 had laid down a series of peer-reviewed technology conferences, to help induce new ideas and foster connections amongst industry pioneers. Key elements of the IBC2018 Conference were the experienced panel, discussions and keynotes from renowned speakers and experts. Featuring some of the foremost thought-leaders, innovators and policy makers in their fields, the Conference catalyse the exploration of new strategies, understand business disruptors, chart future technological progress and uncover the future roadmap of the industry. From keynotes to creative directors and technical futurists, the IBC Conference this year, united together over 400 inspirational speakers, across 90 sessions.
One of the many topics in the spotlight was how BBC Studios views the new world of content. The Opening Keynote, had Keith Underwood, COO, Channel 4 as the esteemed speaker. In a session devoted to breakthrough innovation at IBC, Accedo’s Fredrik Andersson highlighted Android TV and Roku as the next big thing. The ‘Global Gamechangers’ track that was to kick-start the Conference, welcomed the biggest names in the business, creative, technology and news verticals including Zahra Rasool, editorial lead for Contrast VR, Al Jazeera Media Network.
Affordability, systematic planning and a dedication towards its consumers has made Reliance Jio the fastest growing technology company in the world, according to its procurement and contracting lead, Jaydeep Adhikari. Speaking in a Forum session, Smart Connectivity and Multiplay Devices, Adhikari focussed on explaining how India’s emerging 4G network managed to ramp up 215m subscribers within 21 months of its launch.
From single wire sunglasses that save on plastic waste to a news website that aims to combat fake news, Impossible duo Lily Cole and Kwame Ferreira discussed about looking to incubate business ventures that share their altruistic vision of sustainability for the planet.
Influential and visionary executives from across the industry united at the IBC2018 Executive Forums to discuss key trends, opportunities and disruptors to shape future strategy. Delegates to the invitation-only Leaders’ Forum were in for a surprise: they witnessed the worst of the disruption in broadcasting markets, which they assumed they had already seen.This was the eighth IBC Leader’s Forum, one of the three forums that were organised this year, with the others devoted to cyber security and telecommunications respectively. All were subject to the Chatham House rules, which meant that individual speakers were not identified.
THE CONQUERING HEROES
The IBC2018 Awards, which was held at RAI, Amsterdam, commemorated pioneers and organisations which have made exceptional contributions to the media industry, across categories like IBC Innovation Awards, International Honour for Excellence, Exhibition Stand Design, Best Technical Paper, Judge’s prize, and Special Award for when a person or company went the extra mile and achieved something truly remarkable.
The Innovation Award for Content Creation went to Eurosport and Discovery, for their Eurosport Cube. To immerse audiences in the action from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, they created the Eurosport Cube, surrounding the presenter with LED screens, an innovation that proved quite popular with audiences. “The rave reviews the Eurosport Cube received from athletes, the broader Olympic family and viewers across Europe,” said Simon Farnsworth, EVP, Technology and Operations, EMEA and APAC, Discovery.
The Innovation Award for Content Distribution went to Medialaan, forits radical idea of shortening commercial breaks. For its Stievie service, the Belgian network allows subscribers to catch up, by showing only relevant commercials.
The Innovation Award for Content Everywhere was awarded to RTÉ, for its free-to-air budget OTT platform. “We are very proud of what we achieved on the Saorview Connect project with our partners Freesat and EKT,” said Richard Waghorn, director – Transformation and Technology, RTÉ.
The IBC2018 International Honour for Excellence, IBC’s most prestigious award, was conferred to Joan Ganz Cooney. “For almost 50 years, we have used the combined power of media and the Muppets of Sesame Street to advance the world of educational media, and touch countless children’s lives,” said Mrs. Cooney.
IBC Judges honoured Econet with the Judge’s Prize for for TV everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, and two creative projects from the BBC collectively were honoured with an IBC Special Award. The Best Conference Paper Award went to BBC R&D for their AI production technology including video analysis and machine learning for live events coverage.
The Stand Design Award: Best Larger Free Design went to Wyplay, which used inviting sounds and colours to draw visitors in. Other stands commended were Viaccess-Orca, for its two-storey design encouraging networking in a space-saving stand; and Google, for having set up a village like booth with a subtle design acknowledging IBC’s host city. The Stand Design Award: Best Smaller Free Design winner was Paywizard for its colourful messages and shapes. Highly commended in this category were MRMC, for excellent use of space to show off their mastery of robotics, and Conviva for its creative use of icons and floor messaging.
For the most innovative use of shell scheme space, the judges chose INA for clever monitor mounting on the back walls and lighting. Highly commended in this category were Telmaco, for a design with a unified message, and Speechmatics for its clear messaging and attention to detail.