I’ve given a lot of thought as to what I should mention about IBC 2012. As ever, the truly enormous venue at RAI Amsterdam over 14 halls had everything you might possibly require as a broadcaster. Television, with its massive budgets, does inevitably get all the best toys. The highlight for the television industry I think came from the demonstration of viable ultra-high definition television. Wisely, rather than trying to brand it as super-mega high definition, and struggling to define what we call the next highest resolution, some of the next HD standards are known as 4k and 8k. 8k television runs at a resolution of 7680 × 4320 pixels, or around 16 times that of current HD. Now you might think that may be excessive on a domestic 32″ or 40″ screen, however standard HD still falls down when shown on big screen. And when I say big, I mean along the lines of Sony’s latest 84-inch monster, or that in a home cinema. There was a demonstration of huge Sony 8k screen at IBC with content courtesy of NHK, where it was possible to see detail down to a single hair. It is beautiful, but perhaps not necessary for day-to-day content, but production designers will have their work cut out to get their sets up to scratch. (I read that the Eastenders set was a nightmare to get right when BBC One HD launched). Bandwidth of video also means that networking and storage will also have to be looked at very carefully.
It is interesting the the manufacturers of SLR cameras are seeing the growth of their models used as video cameras. The highest profile example of this was the final episode of the series House being filmed exclusively using a Canon 5D mark II. Admittedly, that is not exactly a cheap camera, but at less than £1500, is incredible value for a full HD television camera. A whole mini industry appears to have grown from this, and at IBC I saw a whole range of accessories, Steadicams, and even a converted Segway with Steadicam attached, all suitable for SLR use. Canon revealed that one range of their latest generation of SLR cameras are actually aimed specifically at videographers, and can generate 4k content. Whilst these are significantly more expensive, they’re still within the reach of amateur film makers.
In contrast, 3D was all the rage when I last visited IBC two years ago. During my visit this time, there was very little 3D on show, apart from screen makers showing off examples of the London 2012 opening ceremony.
In the radio world, I saw two exciting developments. Firstly, Telos revealed their latest Axia hardware with some very small mixers – the iQ, DESQ and RAQ, which have most of the functionality of a larger Axia Element system, but at a much lower cost. They look to be well built, and should give small analogue mixers a run for their money. The highlight from Axia though was a mixer that is due to be launched “by NAB next year”, the Axia Fusion.
The Axia Element is a superb mixer, solidly built, and has powerful routing and control features. However at first glance some radio presenters dislike the fader layout and the feel of the buttons, saying it looks too simplistic. The Fusion takes the function of the Element, but gives it a polished professional feel, and I think it will certainly help Axia grow market share in the UK.
The next major thing I saw was the presence of Ravenna on several stands. Ravenna is aiming to standardise the transport of broadcast audio over IP. This will allow the sharing of audio between different brands of audio equipment: Imagine a large radio studio setup where Axia, Lawo, Studer mixers and Digigram sound cards can all send and receive audio to each other, without dropping audio outside of the IP world. Finally, we can choose the best hardware for a specific case, without having to change infrastructure elsewhere.
The last thing to note about my trip to Amsterdam? Cafe De Klos in Kerkstraat has the best ribs in town.