Anyone who flies regularly into London’s Heathrow Airport will be familiar with the stacking that takes place at peak times – often off-peak times – before coming into land.
This year’s IBC was a little like that, for circling above the halls of Amsterdam RAI centre were a number of technologies all waiting to land, the exception being 3D which had long since been diverted to Stansted.
The themes were obvious, 4K, The Cloud (whatever it really means) and Multiscreen. 4K had the advantage of being of interest both to the production sector that makes up half of the event and the distribution sector that takes up the other.
Samsung’s curved 4K screen in Hall 1 causing one wag to suggest that its refined edges would help get it through the door. Sony, which must be hoping for a camera pay day had three 4K screens joined together, software ensuring that you couldn’t see the join. It may have been the lighting, because Sony’s giant 12K x 2K screen using three 4K projectors above me made the ‘standard’ 4K set nearby look decidedly inferior.
Despite the fanfare I didn’t actually see much if any World Cup 4K footage, which the show organisers must have been hoping for when they gave governing body FIFA the show’s best of breed award, though there was some French Open Tennis on the Intelsat stand. Most of the other 4K screens were showing things like rolling rivers or snow-capped mountain tops, sort of Britain’s got Pixels. All this suggests that some parts of the industry may be keener than others to get 4K going in a consumer environment.
On arrival in Amsterdam I was whisked away to the Ericsson media facility in Hilversum where the company was making good on its purchase of Microsoft Mediaroom. A two-pronged strategy to breathe life into Microsoft’s prodical son came alongside a commitment to the TV industry – as if the string of purchases made over the last few years wasn’t enough to demonstrate their seriousness to the sector.
The new Mediaroom, to be precise MediaFirst, puts the platform on a par and maybe ahead of its peers. It remains dependent on operator decisions, but the upgrade path will make the decision easier for some.
In the conference I thought it was unlikely that after Will.i.am, the commitee would be able to find another speaker with a Top 10 hit to his name. Step forward Professor Brian Cox, the keyboard player with D:ream, now hailed by Sir David Attenborough as the new David Attenborough. The scientist is a born communicator and his passion both for his subject and learning through broadcasting was evident. There remains a feeling that the IBC Conference is principally about the US and the UK. I was able to chat with the international press, but it felt at times as if the 4th Estate was being overrun by our analyst friends.
My flight back into Cambridge International Airport ended up being one into Norwich. At least I wasn’t in a holding pattern.