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5 things we learned at IBC

This year IBC offered up a smorgasbord of broadcast technology seminars and products — from 8K TV, through to video over IP. Below is our pick of the bunch.

1) Video over IP is the next big thing in production workflows

Video over IP was the big talking point when it came to production workflows. Skype TX manufacturing partners NewTek showed their commitment to the cause, heavily promoting the Advanced IP Workflow solution at their stand — while company President Dr. Andrew Cross described video IP as “the next big thing” in his keynote.

Elsewhere, Brazil’s TV Globo took the opportunity to announce Sony as their chosen IP migration partner for the 2016 Rio Olympics. CTO Raymundo Barros stated that “Sony’s vision around 4K/IP live technology is very well aligned with our own. The 4K/IP product line up just announced by Sony is perfectly suited for this 4K/IP OB truck project.”

Video workflows will be seemingly easier to manage with fewer infrastructures and hardware to deal with — so the benefits seem pretty clear.
But (and it’s a “but” that may bother broadcast engineers and Head of Operations for sometime to come), there is still no official industry standard. And that is likely to be the case for the next few years at least.

2) Jaunt might just turn VR into a reality

For far too long VR has seemed a gimmick, a glimpse into the future of education and entertainment. But with no significant presence in the enterprise or consumer market, the tech reminds me of SEGA’s attempts to determine the future of gaming in the late 90s with the Dreamcast (remember them?) — fun for 30 seconds but soon dispensed for something more tangible, and ultimately DOOM(ed).

Although Jaunt might be onto something. The Paolo Alto based company launched in 2013 with a content first approach and has an impressive team in place; recruiting staff from Intel, Lucasfilm and Netflix, along with a token celebrity and tech savvy investor on the board in the shape of Jared Leto.

I had the pleasure, certainly a dubious one in the first instance, of taking part in two demos at IBC. The first was a completely immersive 30 second horror scene experience that was truly frightening — think Blair Witch Project, Saw and The Cell all rolled into one. The second experience resulted in drier palms, but was no less exhilarating: performing on stage with Paul McCartney to a vast audience. It was fun with a big fat capital ‘F’. A representative explained that they are pursuing large sporting events and concerts as well as bolt on rights deals with broadcasters and promoters. It could be a rights deal away from being a major success.

3) Broadcasters are investing heavily into recommendation algorithms

Following the success of ‘the Netflix model’ many big broadcasters are investing heavily into recommendation algorithms, which has in turn created a sub-industry of analytic agencies pouring resource into R&D.

Skype in Media attended the Future of Online Television keynote with guest speakers from the BBC, Channel 4, and Piksel among others — all mostly gushing in their praise for Netflix, while stating a desire to make more data driven decisions when it comes to commissioning their own content.

4) News research and story creation gets smart with x.news

Among the different booths at the Microsoft stand was x.news. An interesting case study for Azure cloud services x.news (a sub-division of x.art) is part news listening engine and, using APIs, content creation and publishing tool. With an interface not dissimilar to TweetDeck, the various listening sources – social, blogs and official news agencies – are aggregated into accessible columns with various filters resulting in an intuitive experience that is versatile enough to prove useful to an independent reporter, as it would be for a large newsroom.

As CEO, Andreas Pongratz explained over email: “x.news aggregates all enterprise curated internal and external, professional as well as social and web sources into one HTML 5 UI – that means the user does not need to switch between applications with different logins and searches – they only need to login once with one search then finds everything relevant needed. All of this regardless of where he/she is and what device he /she is on. “

5) Skype TX continues to be used in new and innovative ways

And lastly we were rather surprised, not to mention very impressed, to learn that a Quicklink TX unit was used by a surgical specialist, who walked through a procedure with another surgeon — via Skype.

Ok, so we may be a little biased but surely that shows the best in technology development (cue round of applause and backslapping).

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