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IBC 2016 - Transformation in the Digital Era

The theme of IBC 2016 focused around “Transformation in the Digital Era: Leadership, strategy and creativity in media and entertainment.” The conference explored how the entertainment and media sector is using the accelerating power of technology to transform its businesses. The Best of IET and IBC was also launched this year.

This year, our editorial looked at the exciting technology on show in IBC’s Future Zone – an area of exhibition space where the world's most hi-tech media companies and research organisations proudly demonstrated their very latest concepts and experimental technologies. This year the immersive technologies of 360º video and VR dominated the Zone. Here, you could not only see tomorrow's media but you could personally experience it, leaving impressions that would remain with you long after leaving Amsterdam.

We then presented eight papers chosen as the best contributions to IBC2016 by the IBC Technical Papers Committee and the executive team of the IET Multimedia Communications Network. These included the overall winner of IBC’s award for the Best Conference Paper, 'WiB – A New System Concept for Digital Terrestrial Television' and papers representing other hot topics of 2016: HDR (High Dynamic Range) processing and subjective quality evaluation, Object-based Broadcasting, Virtual Production, 360° Video, Crowd-based Newsgathering and Gaze-tracking.

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VR innovations

There was a special focus on VR and AR technology and production methodology in the Future Zone this year.
Stitching video from multiple cameras or sensors to create a 360-degree panoramic movie on-the-fly is one of the main bottlenecks of such production. A demonstration by Argon360 aimed to show that this stitching can happen on a chip in the camera with no further complication.

Streaming sports in VR may offer the next best experience to being present at the event, but what's so good about not being able to chat with friends next to you? New York-based developer LiveLike is launched a social sharing app for VR. The audio portion of a VR experience is as important as the visuals in helping viewers navigate and storyteller's narrate which is why b-com has devised a means to apply High Order Ambisonic audio to VR content.

Plus, you can go hands-on with a claimed world's first solution to remotely moving and stabilising 360-degree cameras in the form of the 360° Evo from Motion Impossible.

Customised broadcasts

IP technologies and OTT streaming is enabling ever greater interactivity and personalisation of media, a clear trend in Future Zone activity. BBC R&D, for example,displayed Cook-Along-Kitchen-Experience (CAKE) a real-time, interactive cookery show that changes as you cook with it using a mix of AV and text. This is the broadcaster's first wholly object-based experiment from production to experience.

Pressing a 'red button' to view alternative camera angles can be a painful process, leading to delays before the new video starts but Minglvision's software – trialled during Formula 1 races – permits users to switch between angles with a claimed zero latency.

Socialising Around Media, or SAM, is about content finding the user’s second screen through syndication. The EU-funded project aims to change the “inactive viewer” into a “proactive prosumer” with social media interaction and decision making on content.

Project Dreamspace's ambition “is to make it possible for directors, designers and artists to build experiences directly from visual components, working together on set or in the performance space, and see the results immediately,” explains Sara Coppola, project manager, The Foundry. The EC-funded consortium will showcase the results of its first year’s work, which focused on the technical components necessary to enable virtual production.

3D, VR or UHD are all ways to bring a more immersive experience of live events to the living room but NTT Laboratories has floated a concept that will enable viewers to experience the feeling of actually being in a sporting venue. It calls its immersive public viewing approach 'telepresence' and is targeting it for readiness by 2020.

50 years in 2017

IBC is 50 years old next year, and one of the factors that has always kept it at the forefront of thinking about the rapidly changing world of electronic media and entertainment is a willingness to keep evolving. The industry has changed enormously over the course of IBC’s history and the show the organisation mounts has done the same.

From different locations to the wide range of different feature areas that reflect the very latest trends and technologies impacting the industry, IBC has never been afraid to be a pioneer and reflect the needs of the industry that drives it. Over the years it has championed and helped promote many new technologies, ensuring that its 55,000 attendees every year can research and learn about the very latest disruptors that may affect their business in the future.

Of course, there weren’t always 55,000 attendees but that figure has grown 14% over the past five years, an impressive growth rate given some of the wider economic issues that have affected this industry and many others.

This year IBC continued to grow. Recently it has been able to take advantage of some major expansion works at its Amsterdam RAI home that has been undertaken to add further capacity to what is already one of Europe’s leading venues. This was a necessary change as in the same five year period from 2010 to 2015 the number of exhibiting companies attending the show has risen over 25% from 1,337 to 1,678.

For 2016 a new hall joined the number of carefully themed and curated areas that encompass the IBC Exhibition, meaning that visitors can effectively walk from one end of the industry to the other.

The new hall joined the lengthening list of feature areas and special exhibits examining different aspects of the industry, many of which would have been hard to envisage 10 years ago, never mind 50.

Last year, for example, IBC introduced three brand new areas into the show mix. The Technology in Action Theatre explored industry case studies in a free to attend theatre; the IBC Launch Pad was a special area that was reserved for first time IBC Exhibitors; while the innovative IBC Hackfest saw coders, developers and more compete to spec out a new product and compete for a €5000 prize fund. All of these features returned with exciting new developments in 2016.

These joined established areas that have become IBC landmarks such as The Future Zone, which exhibits only the very latest technology fresh from the world’s R&D labs and research institutes; the IBC Big Screen Experience which harnesses the power of the 1,700 seat auditorium at the centre of the RAI and equips it with the very latest state-of-the-art cinema equipment; and, of course, IBC Content Everywhere Europe, which is rapidly becoming the leading forum for the broadcast industry to assess the latest developments resulting from the transformative new 24/7 connectivity.