If it’s late February, it must be time to head down to east London’s ExCel centre for the annual UK kit show for the broadcast production world, Broadcast Video Expo.

The show’s been running for an impressive 20 years now, moving from its slightly cramped premises in Earl’s Court five years ago to the more spacious and inviting environs of ExCel. That gives the show’s 15,000 visitors and 300 exhibitors a bit of breathing space.

So what to see at the show this week? BVE is not the place to go for the big new product launches, that’s reserved for NAB in Las Vegas in April or, at a push, IBC in Amsterdam in September. But it’s the key kit show in the UK and obviously a much shorter (and cheaper) journey for the British contingent than the United States or the Netherlands.

It’s a great way for production professionals to firstly see each other (trade shows are about networking as much as anything else) and secondly to get hands on with the kit announced at those two big shows.

At NAB and IBC, the sheer crush of people means getting hands on with the tech and getting to quiz manufacturers properly can be tough, so BVE is often a better opportunity. Its more compact size also makes it a quick and easy way to survey an entire industry in one go and get a handle on the latest technology and toys available to the filmmaker.

Beyond the show floor though, there is a lot more on offer. The BVE seminar programme has a lot going on with sessions on the latest tech and programme making techniques. It also has a host of interesting keynotes to catch.

Documentary maker Louis Theroux will be the focus of one of those in a session that takes place on the Thursday morning. Theroux will talk about his career in documentary that spans over two decades with his work to date including Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, When Louis Met… and films including My Scientology Movie, The Most Hated Family in America and his recent revisit to his earlier When Louis Met…Jimmy, re-examining his media relationship with Savile. The session will see Theroux share his experimental filmmaking highs and lows.

Bafta winning writer and director Amma Asante is also at BVE for a keynote interview called  ‘Power to the writer – writing a winning screenplay.’ The session’s being chaired by film critic Mark Kermode and will run through Assante’s writing career that covers TV series and now movies like Belle and A United Kingdom.

Also on the Tuesday, Kermode will be interviewing Adrian Wootton, the chief executive of Film London and the BFC on the rise of UK-US co-productions and what the benefits are to UK producers and production services. That takes place in the Production Theatre at 2.30pm.

Kermode’s other interview will be with actor director Dexter Fletcher who will discuss his career highlights and how he came to make films including his debut Wild Bill, the musical Sunshine on Leith based on music from The Proclaimers and, earlier this year, Eddie the Eagle which dramatised the life of the British ski jumper starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken.  

Mark Herbert of Warp Films, the company behind This Is England, 71 and Four Lions is also giving a keynote with his top tips for getting a film made, delivering high quality cinematic production on budget and producing for both film and TV.

Emerging technology is also a focus of the seminars. Hot topic High Dynamic Range unsurprisingly makes an appearance. A panel including The Farm’s tech director David Klafkowski, Phil Layton of BBC R&D (who will talk about the BBC’s own version of HDR, Hybrid Log Gamma) and Televisual Media’s own James Bennett will be getting to grips with what the impact of HDR will be, what it adds to the post production workflow and when traditional broadcasters will embrace the format. Another session on lighting will also tackle HDR.

Cinematographer Tony Miller will run a session on the challenges for DoPs in shooting productions that will eventually be seen with a far brighter highlights, detailed blacks and more intense colours. A separate session by Technicolor colourist Jodie Davidson and Goldcrest’s Lee Clappison will also touch on how the shift to HDR content will effect the colour grading industry.

Other hot tech topics also get an airing. On the Wednesday at 2.50pm, there will be a panel session on 4K IP workflows. 8K also features with a session sponsored by RED with topics ranging from handling 8K from acquisition to post, the creative benefits of shooting in 8K and the increased demand for higher resolution content with a case study on Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Virtual reality and 360 have a number of sessions dedicated to them including a panel on the Tuesday at 2.30pm on storytelling in 360 degrees and shooting in 360 without losing quality. James Manisty of Alchemy, Jamie Mossahebi of Happy Finish and DoP Rob Hollingworth take part in that one.

Other VR sessions on the Thursday at 10.30 and 1.45 will also ask the simple question of whether VR will go the way of 3D before it, or will it stay for the long run? For ‘Getting virtual – Is VR a fad, a gimmick or here to stay? a panel will take a cold hard look at whether virtual reality will become a business necessity and whether companies should start investing time and money in the format. Other sessions will look at when VR will become broadcastable and how post production will deal with it.

Jon Creamer

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