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IBC Eyes 3D, IP Delivery

Broadcasters and the technology vendors that support them gather this week (Sept. 9-14) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands for the 2010 International Broadcasting Convention, where they will assess new technologies such as stereoscopic 3D and discuss the financial future of their business.

Last year’s show saw a dip in both attendees and exhibitors from 2008 as the broadcast industry weathered one of the toughest economic years in its history. Attendance dropped from 49,250 to 45,547, and exhibitors decreased from 1,451 to 1,355. But with the broadcast business recovering in 2010 and the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas last April posting a slight bump, vendors are hopeful that this year’s IBC will be healthier.

While IBC organizers won’t make predictions, they expect to see at least 1,300 exhibitors at the convention, the second-largest technology show for the professional video industry after NAB. That number will include large production vendors Sony and Snell, which skipped last year’s IBC to spend their marketing dollars on making more individual visits with customers.

This year, IBC has also added a new exhibit hall, the 800-square-meter Hall 13, to give some legacy exhibitors more space and welcome new vendors to the show.

“I think it will be better attended than last year,” says Mike Knaisch, president and CEO of archiving supplier Front Porch Digital. Knaisch added that he expects to be hearing a lot about stereoscopic 3D, which is “kind of a carry-over from NAB.”

“They’ve opened a new [exhibit] hall, so exhibitors must be showing up,” adds Jim Hurwitz, director of product marketing and management, Telecast Fiber Systems. “I’m hoping that with all this interest in 3D, people will be coming. I’m hopeful that there will be a willingness to invest in the future of TV.”

Telecast Fiber will be one of many vendors demonstrating new 3D–capable products at the show. And developments in 3D technology will be discussed in detail during IBC’s companion conference, including the session, “The Rise and Rise of Stereo 3D” on Sept. 11, with executives from NDS, Ericsson and Sony; and “Post-Producing 3D Features” on Sept. 12, chaired by Warner Bros. SVP of Technology Wendy Aylsworth and featuring executives from Disney, Technicolor, Dolby and Deluxe Digital.

The technical challenges and producing in stereoscopic 3D will also be a big part of IBC’s “Sports Day” on Sept. 11, including a session on the 3D broadcasts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 3D sports’ potential led by Peter Angell, head of production and programming for Host Broadcast Services, and featuring ESPN SVP of technology Kevin Stolworthy.

Of course, the future of TV doesn’t just mean 3D, but also the delivery of content through the Internet to a wide range of IP–enabled or “connected devices,” including computers, broadband-enabled TVs and Bluray players, and a growing number of “over-the-top” set-top devices including expected new products from Google and Apple.

In that vein, IBC is dedicating Hall 9 to “Connected World,” a collaborative exhibit that groups multiple vendors showing the latest in alternative distribution technologies such as IPTV, mobile TV and digital signage. The Hall’s centerpiece will be a “Connected Home of the Future,” demonstrating the distribution of TV, video and digital content via connected set-top boxes and receivers, hybrid TVs, LCDs, netbooks, game consoles, tablets, media players or mobile phones.

The opportunities presented by IP video delivery will also be discussed in detail during the companion IBC conference, which as in previous years is aligned into three tracks: “Technology Advancements,” “Content Creation & Innovation” and “The Business of Broadcasting.” Sessions on Sept. 9 include “Going Social: the Implications and Opportunities of Interactive Media,” chaired by Charles Cheevers, ARRIS’ CTO for Europe; “When Broadband and TV Become One: The Technical, Commercial and Content Implications of an Impending Merger,” featuring executives from NTT in Japan and the BBC and TSL in the U.K.; and “Connected TV: The New Deal Between Content and Devices,” featuring a keynote by Ian Trombley, EVP of technical operations for NBC Universal.

The opening keynote of IBC’s sports day, “Olympics Games Coverage: Past, Present & Future,” will be delivered by sports production legend Manolo Romero, managing director of Spain’s Olympic Broadcasting Services. He will then be joined by Dave Mazza, SVP of engineering for NBC Olympics, who will talk about the recent Winter Games in Vancouver; and Roger Mosey, director of London 2012 coverage for the BBC, who will discuss preparations for the next Summer Olympics.

Romero, who has been involved with every Olympics production since the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City, will also be presented with the IBC International Honor for Excellence at the convention’s’ annual IBC Awards on Sunday night, Sept. 12.

ScheduALL Showcases Collaboration for Large Broadcasters
ScheduALL, whose enterprise resource management software is used by large media companies and transmission providers to schedule and track daily operations, will demonstrate two new products at IBC, aimed at making it easier for such fi rms to both contract for and share resources like satellite time, production trucks and freelance personnel.

The Hollywood, Fla.–based company’s new ERM application (ERMa), which has just finished beta testing, enables disparate ScheduALL systems to communicate with each other. With the $25,000 ERMa software module, anyone who owns a ScheduALL system can partner and share inventories with another ScheduALL system in real time.

ScheduALL CEO Joel Ledlow says that large customers such as Disney and CBS are already using ERMa to better utilize in-house capabilities in multiple locations, such as putting a scanner in London to work for a project in Los Angeles, as well as to make it easier to share and resell satellite capacity they aren’t using.

“They can ‘friend’ each other, see the inventory in real-time and make a booking,” says Ledlow.

ScheduALL has also created AVvA, a cloud-based solution designed to tie freelancers into the company’s software platform. AVvA, which is available as a free service and can be accessed from any Internet connection, books freelancers directly into workflows as if they were in-house resources. Ledlow says the system eliminates the need for media companies to use multiple emails and phone calls to find, contract, schedule, manage and report on freelance personnel for different projects and assignments.

Snell Bows Control, Routing Products

U.K.–based Snell will introduce Centra, a new control and monitoring platform, which is designed to deliver unified control, monitoring and playout to large broadcasters. By integrating with both Snell and third-party broadcast and IT technology, Centra aims to create new operational efficiencies by bringing centralized confi guration and control to all areas of real-time content preparation, infrastructure management, studio, and OB (outside broadcast) productions. Productions can be switched and infrastructure can be reconfigured at the press of a button. Snell will also introduce the Sirius 830, the latest in its line of large-scale, multi-format expandable routers. The 16RU Sirius 830 offers a more compact 288 x 288 frame size for mid- to large-scale studio or OB productions, with the ability to add an additional 144 independently controllable outputs for connection to any Snell or third-party multiviewer solution.

Orad to Introduce Adobe Plug-In
Israeli graphics and virtual set supplier Orad will introduce a new software plug-in designed to work with Adobe’s popular After Effects compositing application. The new graphics manager plug-in—the AE-GFX Manager— is designed to efficiently manage the rendering and cueing tasks for After Effects.

Prior to Orad’s solution, operators had to physically sit next to an After Effects application and manually change any text or image and render it repeatedly for every “bug,” graphic or promo used. With the new plugin, operators can now convert an After Effects project into a template, send a text/image parameter or ingest a new text or image to the After Effects project directly from the AE-GFX Manager, and then send it for automatic rendering.