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It’s been a long and frustrating wait but the in-person shows that were cancelled two years ago are finally back on track. One of the most eagerly awaited in the UK is the Media Production and Technology Show which returns to Olympia in May. The two-day event resumes service with a bumper and free conference programme delivering face to face insight into the key trends impacting production and post.
Charlotte Wheeler, Director, Broadcast Tech & Sport Group at show organiser’s MBI, said: “As we all know, it has been a difficult time for our industry these past couple of years, and as the first UK broadcast technology tradeshow to take place for two years, the MPTS team has been working hard to ensure we deliver an outstanding show for 2022, bringing our community back together to reconnect, network and celebrate our much-loved industry.”
Wheeler’s certainly right that this show has become a bit of a date for networking as Soho reconvenes to Kensington. All the conference sessions and booth exhibits are one thing, but the haphazard chance of meeting people you know, and lots you don’t, in the show’s environs has been sorely missing these past couple of years.
This is also the first show since the acquisition of rival BVE in late 2019. Wheeler says MPTS has been focusing on developing its tech sector footprint with some of the largest names in the market and that she expects to welcome a broader technology and production-oriented audience spanning the creative industries to this year’s event.
So, what can we expect? Opening the show is British Academy Television Award and Royal Television Society Television Award winning Louis Theroux, who will talk through his varied and extensive career in award-winning documentary production. Keynotes include BAFTA winning multi-hyphenate Adam Deacon who recently set up his own production outfit Deaconstructed to champion urban storytelling; and a behind the scenes look at Saturday night shiny floor shows The Masked Singer, The Wheel and Strictly Come Dancing from the show’s producers.
As might be expected a lot of the discussion centres on how the industry can emerge fitter, stronger and happier from enforced isolation and jury-rigged workflows of the Covid-era. Among them is a look at the impact on production and crews with the thoughts of Carrie Pennifer, Head of Production, Arrow, and Bridget Bremner, Sky Sports’ Head of Production.
Covid-19 has put a firebreak under work-life practices and the extent to which more flexible remote working and better employee conditions in postproduction will be debated by execs including David Klafkowski, CEO, Racoon and Zeb Chadfield, The Finish Line.
Aside from remote production, the biggest tech trend accelerated by the pandemic is virtual production, a suite of interlocking technologies and a new methodology sweeping across every part of the creative process from location scouting to final VFX. Demand is growing more quickly than expertise in this area with education about what it means to film in a LED set a massive piece of the puzzle. With that in mind, there’s a new area of the show focused on Virtual Production with a special stage build from partners 80six and content sponsored by Pixotope.
There’s a related session on the use of virtual studios and eXtended reality for live broadcast too, showcasing the work of Discovery and ITV Sport.
Audio is far from neglected with an expanded Audio Theatre covering the latest trends and innovations in sound, ADR, dubbing and mixing, location sound, music composition, podcasting and sound restoration. Look out here for a keynote chat with Chris Burdon, Re-Recording Mixer from Warner Bros. De Lane Lea discussing amongst other projects, his work on Top Gun: Maverick, the sequel that finished filming in mid-2019 but only hits cinemas this summer. The line-up also includes talented composers across TV and Film such as Nainita Desai (who has scored For Sama), Daisy Coole (Ask For Jane) and Benji Merrison (The Green Planet).
A new Technology Theatre, sponsored by Ross Video and supported by SMPTE, brings together tech experts speaking across a variety of topics covering 5G, AI/Machine Learning, Cloud Tech, Future Tech Investment, the Metaverse.
There’s also a dedicated theatre focussed on Production and Lighting plus the MojoFest area which hosts discussions of emerging media topics like NFT’s and the Creator economy – all in all plenty for visitors to find something of interest to them.
“With the UK as a vibrant and essential hub with so many of the world’s best content creators developing and producing content on our home ground, MPTS is perfectly positioned to bring creator excellence together,” Wheeler adds. “We are so excited to welcome everyone to a larger show that delivers a real hands-on experience of the latest technologies, together with world-class speakers covering all aspects of audio, content creation, pre-production, production, post and distribution. MPTS 2022 already looks to be an unmissable event.”
The evolution of production and post is underpinned by cloud infrastructure which is examined in by speakers from Channel 4 and M2A Media discussing their delivery of the recent Tokyo Paralympic Games. There are wrinkles in the ‘cloud or bust’ narrative too that have come to light in rush to migrate to data centres not least of which is the actual cost of storage and transferring data to and from virtualized environments. These nuances get an important airing too.
Surely nothing is more vital though than the strides made by the industry toward reducing its carbon footprint. Going green for productions has moved far beyond bringing your own bottle and knowing what can go in the recycling bin. ‘Sustainable Production – What’s next on our path to Net Zero?’ should be on everyone’s agenda.
One thing the pandemic did not reverse, arguably accelerated, is the demand for the UK’s production capacity and talent. Inward investment in film and TV is at record high, topping £4.713 billion in 2021 reinforcing the UK’s position as a leading global production centre. The drain on talent notwithstanding (skills shortages are addressed here too) the Media Production and Technology Show couldn’t come at more apposite time to showcase our local industry – and simply have some fun.
“The quality and range of our speaker programme has always been, and continues to be, a major factor in the success of MPTS,” Wheeler added. “The team has been working hard to secure industry experts whose insights are a crucial part of the programme as well as speakers from smaller or growing sectors who are best placed to highlight new trends, technologies and ideas that will take the industry forward after what has been a very challenging two years for us all. This is our biggest programme yet, and we hope visitors enjoy all that it has to offer.”
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