The giant kit fest that is IBC (9-14 Sept) kicks off today and there’s little doubt what’s going to be the main focus for most visitors – 3d stereoscopic tools. Whether purchasing for a post house or stocking up a new studio, you’ll have stereo 3d very high up on your shopping list. 3d camera rigs, 3d monitors, 3d fix-it tools, 3d recorders, 3d whatever; it’s all going to be of interest.
You’d be forgiven for thinking there’s nothing else going on, but for each facilities company there are specific kit requirements that – gasp! – have nothing to do with stereography.
For camera suppliers, the Arri Alexa is in strong demand, as are the much-anticipated DSLR cameras expected to give Canon’s much-loved 5D and 7D models a run for their money.
Post production houses are just as keen as camera hire/sales companies to check out new cameras, as new models and formats have a massive ripple effect through to the kit required for editing and finishing.
Also key to post and vfx houses and studios are good quality, affordable reference monitors – any manufacturer able to produce a high quality, cost-effective monitor capable of replacing CRTs is going to be in extremely hot demand.
Over the following paragraphs are the detailed opinions of those making purchasing decisions at facilities companies as to the products that will cause the most buzz at the show. The comments are split into four different areas – visual effects, cameras, post production and studios – which are some of the key facilities sectors covered by the 1,300 exhibitors at the show.
chief technology officer, MPC
“One of the most interesting topics at IBC will be the maturing of stereo vfx workflows. Much like when HD came on the scene there are a few years of “whisper” suites and prototype equipment demos before the technology starts to mature and client expectations are known.
"There are a few approaches to some of the difficulties associated with stereoscopic. Companies like DVS and SGO have taken a custom hardware approach to solving some of the issues. The latest incarnation of Clipster includes many 3d-specific tools including stereo conform and EDL support as well as stereo DCI mastering. Mistika from SGO is positioned as a stereoscopic finishing system with an emphasis on grading but it also has editing and compositing built in. Both of these systems work well with most of the digital acquisition formats including the Red camera.
"Other companies are taking more of a software-led approach. Autodesk and The Foundry are probably two of the most interesting. Autodesk’s latest versions of both its systems products and software products all have support for stereoscopic working. An interesting addition to The Foundry’s Nuke product is Ocula; a set of stereoscopic tools to aid with alignment and discrepancies in both depth and colour. Away from stereo 3d, I’ll be looking for a decent monitor to replace CRTs with the Dolby offering being one of the prime candidates but the price may continue to be a shock.”
director of technology, Framestore
“I’ve decided to split my technology lists for this year’s IBC into three different sub categories, based on things I can get now, things I’ll be keeping an eye on and things that may one day be available. The ‘now’ things on my list include the latest cameras and workflow solutions for the weird and wonderful files they produce.
"I like an easy life so I’m looking for automation solutions for quality assurance and ways to automate other boring stuff like media transfers, file conversions, backups and archiving. To help make sure I don’t get eyestrain and headaches at work, I’ll be looking for the latest and greatest 3d stereo equipment, 3d cameras, 3d camera rigs, pre-production tools, post production tools, monitoring and test equipment.
"I’ll be looking, on the bright side, for monitor technology that’s better than LCD, has good contrast ratio, accurate colour rendition and a wide viewing angle. On my ‘future watch’ list are new ways of delivering moving images, better compression algorithms and where the next generation of grading, compositing, conforming and delivery systems may be coming from.
"Finally, on my ‘wish list’, which Moore’s law tells me should be coming along soon, are 50TB hard drives, 256 core processors, 500GB flash drives, 100GB networking and smart phones for your wrist.”
group technical director, The Mill
“Conversations at The Mill these days tend to be about how fast (or slow) the network is running, why the disks are full and what’s the biggest render farm we can fit in the building. A lot of the infrastructure that glues a vfx house together just isn’t covered any more at IBC.
"We don’t go to Amsterdam to look at 10GE switches or render boxes – we will however have a look at what SANs DVS have to show and what BlueArc is demonstrating with their network attached storage (NAS) technology. Most high-end ads are touched in some way by Autodesk Flame and Smoke and/or The Foundry’s Nuke-X. We will spend time with the development teams trying to influence their new versions to make our lives simpler and slicker.
"I imagine there will be those that are going to Amsterdam still wishing they’ll see a replacement to the Sony Grade One CRT monitor. We truly believe the industry has moved on. Most vfx houses now use relatively cheap Plasmas driven by 3d look-up-tables which clients have come to trust for a fraction of the cost of the old Sonys. Clients just want to see what their images will look like at home. £30k monitors are a thing of the past.
"Our clients want the full service and so whilst Flame and Nuke are essential, we buy a lot of lower cost 2d software from companies like Adobe. We will be trawling the aisles looking for clever plug-ins that were first shown at Siggraph but have now made their way to IBC.”
Duncan Martin director,
Pro Motion Hire
“We’ll be looking at lenses such as the new Zeiss compact primes that have interchangeable lens mounts, as well as preview monitors and rigs, and of course 3d equipment. Without question, 3d is still the main buzz – that and ‘super’ HD cameras such as Arri’s 2K Alexa.
"Also, there will be a lot of interest in DSLR cameras, in particular we will be looking at Panasonic and Sony’s answers to the Canon DSLRs camera, which are rumoured to be previewed at the show. The industry seems to be on a bit of a high off the back of the World Cup, European Championships and the impending Commonwealth Games, so I think people will actually be buying as opposed to window shopping – well, we certainly will be.”
md, Procam Television
“I’m looking for a HD wireless monitor, something lightweight and compact. I’m also keen to identify workflow solutions and methods of making media management simpler. I’ve always liked products from Convergent Design – the Nano Flash is their smart and compact system enabling affordable tapeless workflow with Compact Flash cards. These guys have also developed a portable 3d HD recorder/player, the Nano 3d, and I can see this being an important development for affordable 3d shoots.
"With the launch of our new company, Pro3D in September, I will also be looking at compact 3d cameras to see how they perform alongside cameras mounted on 3d rigs.”
post production consultant, Jigsaw
“You can expect to see the Arri Alexa camera at every turn, which is certainly one to see close-up if you’re interested in the future of digital cinemas. 3d will no doubt be a major talking point – Panasonic are leading the way in the dual-lens camera market with their AG-3DA1 but, with leading stereoscopic figures preferring the control of a dual-camera system, there will be many new 3d rigs from an increasing number of manufacturers.
"Also, look out for the growth of DSLR hybrid cameras and 35mm alternatives based on Micro 4/3s and Sony’s NEX system. The most cutting edge tech on show will probably be NHK’s Ultra High Def camera systems that are capable of 8K resolutions.”
“Long ago you’d never meet a post person in the camera halls at IBC, but this year you’ll see them prowling to try and keep up with this year’s acquisition ‘gotcha’. Whether it’s a camera or a new solid-state medium, it’s here that our immediate future takes shape and the race to perfect the best workflow begins. I’m keen to see what Avid bring to IBC as the fruit of the MaxEdit and Blue Order acquisitions – we’ve seen a tempting glimpse at NAB and there’s significant potential.
"Stereo fix-it tools will be in abundance I’m sure, but there’s only so much we can do with badly shot stereo. I like the idea of [the stereo 3d workstation] Sid, which heralds a welcome new way of thinking at Quantel
co-owner, Platform Post Production
“As a post house specialising in graphically demanding projects, we’re finding clients are starting to explore the possibilities of their projects being produced in Stereo 3d. We’ll be looking at products that enable us to fulfil our clients’ 3d ambitions cost effectively, whilst ensuring projects run smoothly and profitably for our business.
"A robust and flexible file-based workflow is paramount, since we’re looking to add to our stereo 3d capabilities, so we’ll be looking for a solution to further improve our file-based workflow, our service, and our bottom line. Picture monitoring is another area we’ll be looking at, not only from a 3d projection point of view but also the slowly improving flat panel products.”
technical director, The Farm Group
“We’re in the throws of re-developing our live and tape-based logging applications, so we’ll be looking at various ingest and transcode tools – the key suppliers being Telestream, Amberfin and NLTEK. Meanwhile, our Isilon appears to be growing at an alarming and, I have to say, reliable, rate (touching wood), so we’ll still be looking for fast and reliable secondary storage solutions. Our current favourite is an offering from Infortrend but ask on a different day and we’ll give a different answer.
Archiving is a subject that we continually investigate (then promptly bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away). You never know, IBC might help us find a universal, reliable, secure, fast and cheap format.”
group director of technology, Pinewood
“IBC this year is going to have two major areas of interest for me – 3d stereoscopic tools and core infrastructure to support working in an environment of data. As more of the movies being made at the studios consider shooting in 3d, for the majority that choose this route it will not only be the first time they have made a 3d movie but quite possibly the first time they have shot a movie digitally rather than on film.
"At Pinewood, Shepperton and Teddington Studios we are therefore looking to further develop our core infrastructure to more easily enable productions to move large amounts of data around the lots and to deliver the services that are required for digital filmmaking, whether for 2d or 3d. We’re also beginning to see convergence in the required tools for film and TV making at the studios, and will be looking at IBC for storage and media asset management systems that deliver for both. Typically, different productions will have their own favourite tools for certain tasks.
"Rather than trying to second guess requirements and buy these tools at the studios, what we’re looking to do is develop the core infrastructure that will allow a multitude of different productions the ability to use the equipment that they wish, connected into the studios’ ‘data warehouse’.”
vice president, MTV Studios
“MTV Studios are looking at a variety of elements at IBC this year. With our plan to migrate to a native HD infrastructure, IBC is a great time for us to look at our intention to bring multi-format cameras to the studios, as well as high definition switchers and routing, video effects, graphics and flat screen displays with flexible multi-viewers, integrated under monitor displays and tally routing in the galleries.
"We are also looking at new 5.1 surround sound monitoring and multi-format sound mixing and encoding for each of our studios. And, as the industry-wide move away from tape-based acquisition continues, we are looking at disc storage solutions and increased direct ingest into our post production systems.
"Another thing we are exploring at IBC is new compression options for live HD transmission to broadcast clients. We’re also interested in developments in low energy solutions for lighting, miniature camera systems and studio camera supports. Finally, IPTV is an area MTV Studios has been working on closely over recent years (with our inhouse web content colleagues) and is something we’re continuing to explore. There’s a sizeable presence for IPTV at IBC so we’ll certainly be checking this out.”