It's the promise of high def on a budget that's drawing the UK independent production community to hop on an EasyJet to Schiphol this year. While some acquired programming is already available in HD, budgetary implications for UK producers are worrying. Low-budget gear should therefore be a main feature this IBC with a new choice of camcorders on display. Russell Stopford, creative director at Magic Lantern Productions, expects to be trawling the halls for "high-def cameras, edit suites and disk-based recording". He adds: "The excitement around HDV is growing fast, which is creating a real buzz in the pro-sumer and low-budget market, and so I want to know all about that."
On the higher end of the HD scale, anyone wanting to know what all the fuss is about should visit Panasonic's HD Varicam on the Big Screen and Sony's HDCam demos in IBC's Digital Cinema.
The IBC cinema will also play host to this year's digital cinema programme which will show Dreamworks' new animation Madagascarand Warner Brothers' recently restored Wizard of Oz, using a 2K cinema projector and 20m screen.
Speakers from Hollywood include Star Warsproducer Rick McCallum, who will give a Q&A on the future of digital cinema. Howard Lukk from Walt Disney Studios and Wendy Aylesworth from Warner Bros are also participating in a series of sessions on encryption, mastering and distribution. While digital intermediate solutions and technical specs may not have a direct impact on those currently working in UK television, Stopford believes that "the take-up of this format by the film world will play a major role in driving the uptake of HD production and post-production".
He notes that digital cinema will guarantee a ready supply of digital/HD assets which can be used directly from source to broadcast. The need to redigitise material for HD use will thus be removed, helping move the uptake of HD along.
Facilities are becoming ever more interested in digital intermediate (DI) systems. These software products not only mean that facilities can cut back on expensive hardware investments, but can also radically alter workflow speed.
It means that tasks like colour grading - typically the domain of a single telecine colourist - can now be transformed into a non-linear process as multiple files are created and worked on by several operators simultaneously.
Manufacturers worth visiting in this area include Discreet, Filmlight and da Vinci. "This year's focus will be on non-linear colour correction systems which we can apply in the commercial arena," notes Tim Wharton, director of engineering at Rushes.
He adds: "So far, a lot of these systems have been targeted at feature film producers. We would like to see if the same type of workflows can be applied in the commercials market. The fast turnaround required in this space makes this a challenge for the manufacturers.
The additional benefits that non-linear working may be able to offer to clients, however, makes it important for us to aim to offer this soon."
With more and more producers choosing to buy their own kit in-house, heads of technology at indies such as Darlow Smithson and Parthenon Entertainment are taking on a concern that has traditionally been the domain of the Soho facilities house - workflow.
Darlow Smithson's head of post-production, Dan Carew-Jones, is hoping to see products that help in the development of "an integrated, rational workflow", and reveals that he will be visiting companies like Apple, Avid, Canopus, AJA, Sony and Miranda.
Workflow issues are also on the mind of Ascent technical manager Chris Watson, who says he will be sending staff from various areas to look into improved workflow systems, from standard definition up to 4k resolution, software to rival the Protools audio editing package and technologies that are evolving to deal with electronic storage, archiving, distribution and delivery.
"In particular, I'll be looking at FilmMaster from Digital Vision/Nucoder, which offers real-time 2k restoration solutions for grain reduction and dirt/scratch concealment," he says.
Newsroom and Archive
The newsroom and archive sectors of the industry cover a wide spectrum. There are many developments to check out at IBC, but, for Keith Cass, director of technology at ITN, the most alluring is IP newsgathering. "This includes emerging technologies such as file-based electronic news gathering (ENG) cameras and the broadband global network (BGN) through to the latest in video file transfer," he notes.
Looking ahead, these sectors need to have the latest technologies in place quickly and IBC helps provide them with the information they need to make the best decisions on kit refreshments.
"With such a large operation we have a rolling programme to refresh our kit, but with the opportunity provided by tapeless production, automation and HD, we're keen to explore these further," says Peter Coles, BBC head of news production facilities.
"There's always something happening in news, but we are re-equipping most of our newsgathering technology at present, plus our archive digitisation project is gathering momentum," notes ITN's Cass. "We're quite advanced in our project, but I will be looking at any emerging technologies that may have relevance in this area. These include high capacity storage, video indexing tools and middleware IT products."
It's tools which aid the distribution of archive in the new tapeless environment that interest Fiona Maxwell, controller of operations and servicing at ITV. Maxwell says she'll be dropping into Microsoft's lounge at IBC to check out the buzz on Smart Jog, a French technology that enables fast and secure transmission of files to anywhere in its worldwide network, from any location.
"We're currently looking at all the new methods of delivering a digital library, and tools like Smart Jog claim to allow you to send files electronically over a secure private network." Maxwell explains that this eliminates the need to create a tape and the physical workflow associated with shipping, tracking, customs clearance, quality-control, and ingest at the receiving end.
Delegates from this end of the sector may also be interested in attending an conference session which examines how to cope when it all goes pear-shaped.
Whether from a simple power failure at the studio centre or a transmitter collapse, Disasters -
the Broadcaster's Responsibility looks at the measures broadcasters have in place for continuing their business and information services in the event of a technical crisis.
Linda Dodd, the BBC's post manager, is currently championing the BBC's move towards a tapeless production environment that will see programmes shot, post-produced and delivered digitally.
She says: "Managing an area which involves integrating a seamless and tapeless post-pro-duction solution on top of the customer's existing infrastructure has thrown up all sorts of issues and learning curves over the past couple of years - I'm always keen to explore the latest claims of tapeless solutions. I'm hoping to get around a number of key suppliers in this area including Quantel, Avid and Apple."
For David Blackham, head of operations at Granada Bristol, it's HD-based content analysis tools that are the most important thing to search out at the show. "I'll also be looking for server-based applications for online logging and distribution of media rushes, and new plug-in effects and algorithms for Final Cut Pro, Shake and Protools," he reveals.
Broadcasters come to IBC to either assess or buy equipment they need for upcoming projects. Sometimes they may even come across an unexpected gem too.
Enteraction TV was set up to enable brands to launch TV channels (clients include Thomas Cook and the City of London) and due to a number of impending launches its operations director, Alan Moore, has a kit wish-list as long as his arm.
"We have a couple of major new channel launches this year, each with very different requirements. These range from cameras (possibly solid state), lights, virtual 3D tracking systems for a new studio, desktop browsing systems, on-air branding tools, scheduling systems and encoders," says Moore.
He adds: "I'm not actively going to IBC to buy new kit, but if I find something that will work for one of the projects we're working on, and I get a good deal, I may need a bigger suitcase."
"There is always something that comes out of the woodwork at IBC, not something we were seeking but something that looks like it has potential," adds Mark Tugwell, head of BBC outside broadcasts.
"We've bought many things - some major things - due to a chance find at IBC, for example a high-end digital comms system, which we're now rolling out across the fleet. It might have come to our attention anyway, but who knows?"
The delegate's choice: events
9 September 11am HDTV keynote address, then The State of HD Around the World
2pm Challenges and Solutions for HD Broadcasters
2pm Disasters - The Broadcasters' Responsibility
4pm New HD Broadcasters' Needs and Issues
10 September 11am HD Varicam on the Big Screen
1.30pm Digital Intermediate - an Industry Update
5pm HDCam demonstration
6.30pm IBC Saturday night movie - Madagascar
11 September 10am Analogue Television Switch-off
2.30am Content Management and Archiving
12 September 4pm D Cinema conference special session, with Star Warsproducer Rick McCallum
6.30pm IBC special screening: The Wizard of Oz(restored)
The delegate's choice: stands
Name Stand no
1 AJA 7.610
2 Apple 7.521
3 Avid 7.830 / 7.938
4 Canopus 7.531
5 da Vinci 7.330
6 Digital Vision / Nucoder 7.631
7 Discreet / Autodesk 7.420
8 Filmlight 7.110
9 Miranda 8.241
10 Quantel 7.220
11 Sony 9.410 / OE9.001 / OE9.002/ 9.131
12 Panasonic 10.431
13 Microsoft The Topaz Lounge