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Sunday, 29 January 2012 06:00

Taking a Look at IBC 2011

Written by  James Thompson
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img_5548In search of lighter, smaller and less expensive gear, broadcasters and filmmakers flocked to the recent International Broadcast Conference (IBC) at the RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre in Amsterdam. This year’s IBC had an increase in attendance as many gathered for insights into the next wave of production.

“We are delighted with this year’s strong visitor numbers,” says IBC CEO Michael Crimp. “They are a very clear indication of the resilience and optimism of our industry despite the current economic climate. The attendance for IBC2011 stands at 50,462, which is a final increase of 4 percent on last year’s total attendance of 48,521 by the end of the show.”

IBC offered a wealth of information through conferences, events and more than 1,300 industry exhibitors that covered the showroom floor with products and services for the global entertainment marketplace. One highlight included an appearance by Filmmaker James Cameron and Vince Pace, co-founders of the Cameron-Pace Group, who promoted their new partnership and spoke about the industry’s movement to 3D. Cameron and Pace showed 3D footage on the IBC Big Screen that included sports, entertainment and a 39-minute preview of the upcoming feature Cirque du Soleil.

img_5679The IBC Big Screen was also a big hit for exhibitors and conference sessions. The 1,700-seat auditorium in the center of the RAI played host to conference sessions and special movie screenings. Several exhibitors used the facilities to demonstrate the abilities of their products. ARRI and RED Digital showcased exciting footage shot with their latest digital cinema cameras, including the RED 5K EPIC. And P+S Technik was on hand to showcase a music promo shot with its new PS-Cam X35 digital camera.

The IBC showroom floor offered so much exciting news and information. At the Harris booth, Senior Product Marketing Manager Andrew Warman presented solutions for postproduction techniques in play-out systems in the production workflow process. “We’re filling the need essentially,” said Warman. “[Our customers] have experience with Harris on the play-out side, and they discovered they can actually reapply the technology, products and workflow they are using into the production workspace as well.” Desktops and the reduced cost and hardware for massive storage units have changed the production landscape. Warman also noted that massive storage, collaborative editing, good media management tools, asset management tools and archive interfaces are all pieces that are needed in the production and postproduction process. “It gives all the opportunities and users in the system access to the whole tool kit,” he said.

IBC2011 featured many exhibitors displaying products and new technology that will influence capturing content for film and broadcast production workflows. Fujinon, the lens division of FUJIFILM Optical Devices U.S.A., Inc., displayed new XA4x7.5 MD-D3R/L motor-drive HD zoom lenses in a matched 3D pair that got quite a bit of attention as the 3D market continues to blossom. The lenses feature high-precision optical systems supplied in matched lens pairs for correct 3D image rendition. Their compact size and weight make them ideal for shooting 3D in tight spaces, on jibs or for handheld work.

img_9380P+S Technik introduced a new magazine for the ARRI SR III cameras. The PS-Mag 16DSR-III bridges the gap between the film and digital worlds. As a portable digital recording unit, it’s designed to interface with the ARRIFLEX SR III Super-16 film camera. This will allow cinematographers to shoot a film camera utilizing existing film accessories and high-quality lenses with the accuracy of the original optical viewfinder while recording digitally in RAW format. 

Thanks to NVIDIA, working with computer graphics has just gotten a lot easier and faster. Known for its high-end graphic processors to power new applications and workflows, NVIDIA introduced GPUs and GPU computing to accelerate a range of new applications, including accelerated editing and adding new video. “[This] allows the artist to support more creative options without having to go off and render and wait,” said Justin Boitano, NVIDIA’s director of marketing. “It gives them the ability to work faster and be more productive.”

Third-party technology has helped Autodesk with the release of the new Subscription Advantage Packs for its Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites 2012. Subscription customers can now get new functionality with powerful new enhancements that will allow them to work more efficiently. The Subscription Advantage Packs can be downloaded from the company’s Subscription Center or directly through the interface of Autodesk software.img_5555

Latching onto the new thunderbolt technology, AJA Video Systems introduced Io XT, the company’s first Thunderbolt-enabled professional video I/O device. The Io XT connects to a Thunderbolt-enabled Apple computer via a single cable. The real advantage is a second port that allows daisy-chaining to other Thunderbolt peripherals, like high-bandwidth storage and high-resolution displays through a single interface, simplifying the connection of multiple devices and creating a very portable package. “It’s an exciting technology that you can get so much power over a single cable off of what is essentially a consumer device that you can finally deliver, in an elegant way, the promise of doing anything up to uncompressed HD and anything beyond on portable devices,” said AJA President Nick Rashby.

Portable live production is going to a whole new level with NewTek’s TriCaster 450 EXTREME and TriCaster 450 CS. The TriCaster 450 EXTREME is a small, lightweight unit that packs a powerful punch. It will literally replace a production truck as a single operator or small team can switch between multiple cameras, virtual inputs and live virtual sets while inserting clips, titles and motion graphics with multichannel effects. It also offers everything from live streaming and animation to audio mixing and more. The TriCaster 450 CS provides an optional control surface, and Michael Kornet, NewTek’s Chief Marketing Officer, believes that TriCaster hardware would be a valuable tool on film sets. “You can use this while recording and actually bring eight separate cameras in, all synchronized at full 24p,” Kornet reported. “Summing up the TriCaster is hard because it does so much for so many people and just changes the game in so many ways.”

img_9362Shooters working with the new breed of HDSLRs and DV camcorders, or those needing a powerful on-camera soft-lighting fixture, will be happy to know that Litepanels re-designed the MicroPro LED light, which now provides full-color temperature variations. According to Barry Rubin, Litepanels’ director of worldwide sales, the new Croma LED light fixture will go from 5600°K daylight to 3200°K “and anything in between.” It’s also powerful yet runs cool; power efficient (running off six standard AA batteries); and lightweight enough to rest while onboard your camera.

For the smaller DSLR market, Polecam showcased its new Wide Head that has pan-and-tilt capabilities and is remotely controlled. It can work on a rig or in a standalone environment off the rig. To facilitate unlimited panning, the Wide Head has 12-volt power and monitoring options built in via slip rings. Power can also be provided for camera DC adapters.
Since going small while capturing content has become the norm, K-Tek has created a boom-pole solution for tiny cameras like the GoPro and Contour. At IBC2011, the company introduced three “tadpoles” with extended reach for the next generation of handheld cameras. K-Tek also shortened its notable boom poles: These poles pack up in 1-foot (30.4 cm) or 2-foot (60.9 cm) lengths and can extend up to 6 feet, 8 inches (203 cm), depending upon the model.

Following this small theme, Sachtler showcased a new fluid head for the growing market of videographers and DSLR filmmakers. The company’s Ace tripod system was designed for smaller HDV camcorders and video-enabled DSLR cameras weighing up to 8.8 pounds. It’s compact and lightweight (due to a special composite material), ergonomically designed and offers an intuitive feel.

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