Photo: What are people looking for at IBC 2017?
Photo: What are people looking for at IBC 2017?

What are the key industry themes at IBC 2017?

Buzzwords to look out for at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam include HDR, UHD, IP in live production, virtualisation and the wider shift towards IT environments, alongside AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Virtual Reality.

It’s symptomatic of the profound change impacting the industry that trade shows are less about individual product releases and much more about incremental innovation. It’s also true that incremental advances are happening faster and in more seismic ways than before. That’s because the industry is escalating from isolated black box broadcast-engineered equipment to software-based, IP transported data-driven systems.

This will be starkly apparent at IBC 2017, where Futuresource Consulting points toward the macro trends of HDR and UHD, IP in live production, virtualisation and the wider shift towards IT environments – “these are all familiar themes that will be revisited as the technologies mature,” it states.

While Virtual Reality (Augmented and Mixed Realities) will be widespread the lack of concrete monetization and viral must-see content has relegated interest.

AI takes off

In terms of new technology, AI is starting to come to the fore. “It’s been there for a while, but at NAB it started to feature in many more conversations than it had done previously,” says the analyst. “People are growing more and more excited about its potential across broadcast, and particularly in its ability to allow further workflow automation and the associated cost savings this allows.”

AI features in the IBC Conference, where a session outlines how machine learning is increasingly being used to create meaningful metadata from large content portfolios.

So many applications are being touted as ‘AI’ it is worth questioning whether the tech is actually just re-badged advanced analytics. For a glimpse into the future of intelligent automation, the conference is also hosting sessions on how we might emotionally interact with our media devices and TV’s and even with humanoid robots. Hanson Robotics which makes lifelike AI is a speaker worth paying attention to here.

Cyber security

The overarching theme of the IBC Conference is Truth, Trust & Transformation and it is ‘trust’ which is exercising the minds of CEOs and CTOs, not least following the HBO hack in August. While the pay-TV industry continues to haemorrhage money from illegal streaming of premium (usually sports) content, just as alarming are attacks on individual organizations, which have made internal emails and private consumer data just as much a target.

“Consumer data is one of the biggest assets that service providers have,” says Nick Fitzgerald, Chairman at managed services provider TV2U. “This data is being treated with the same value as content, which has changed the game when it comes to security.”

Cyber security needs to be addressed by the entire supply chain with clear the air discussions necessary about what is and what is not in place in distribution, production and post an important pre-requisite of any cyber defence. The Digital Production Partnership will make this argument at the show. There’s even a behind closed doors executive-only forum on the topic at IBC.


Perhaps the one area where black box hardware continues to dominate is acquisition. At IBC, Barry Bassett, who runs kit hire company VMI, is specifically interested in new 4K offerings which he expects to be announced by ARRI and Sony.

“Beyond this I’ll be on the look out for more lenses, grip, camera accessories and new, innovative, esoteric products which simply increase production values,” says Bassett. “We’re also interested to learn what progress is planned for the migration to 8K especially if there any new monitoring products. Basically, we all shoot 4K and higher now and have the option to deliver in HDR, yet monitoring HD in standard dynamic range is still the norm.”

Broadcasters are not embracing UHD in the same way that HD took off and became commonplace. A conference panel including speakers from Sky and Netflix explains why.

Everything comes together

Russell Grute, consultant at Broadcast Innovation thinks 2017 will be a particularly intensive IBC. “Many areas of next generation technology that have been in-flux will come together,” he predicts. “From the key IP building blocks, implementation and standards right up to practical 360 degree media planning, production and processing for all media outlets.”

Among these will be SMPTE 2110, the next stage in the evolution of video over IP supported by the AIMS consortia of companies. While ST 2110 is yet to be ratified as standard, its specification for splitting audio and video into essences for greater flexibility in transport will be widely supported by companies involved in live production.

Posted by Adrian Pennington, technology journalist. 1st September 2017.