Q&A: Previewing IBC2017 with Michael Crimp

Ahead of IBC2017, one of the leading media and entertainment trade shows, NewscastStudio had a chance to speak with IBC CEO Michael Crimp.

What are you most excited about for IBC2017? What do you hope attendees take away from it?

To take the second half of the question first, IBC attracts around 55,000 visitors and every one of them has a different agenda. My fervent wish is that every single one finds the answers to their own particular questions.

What am I most excited about? Personally, I know I am in the right job at around 11.00 on Friday, when the exhibition halls get that first surge of visitors and the hum, the noise of business being done, begins to rise.

The charity football match on Saturday night is going to be a good event, too!

What are some of the hot topics that will be addressed during the conference?

One significant development from that first IBC 50 years ago is the nature of the conference. The founders were insistent that an exhibition needed a technical conference, and in 1967 it was based solely on papers outlining the latest research.

Today the technical papers programme still forms the centrepiece of the conference, and it is still seen as the most important, as well as the most prestigious place to introduce new thinking. But today our conference is much broader, speaking to the creative and commercial people in our community as well as the engineering and operational.

This year’s conference is subtitled Truth, Trust and Transformation, and has five tracks running over five days. Session topics range from the deeply technical, like new codec design, to fake news and alternative facts. Speakers range from Alberto Duenas, the principal video architect at chip-maker ARM to Dan Danker, the product director at Facebook.

Will VR and AR be addressed at this year’s conference?

Of course. And in the Future Zone, and no doubt on the show floor.

This is a great example of where IBC adds so much value to the industry. Technologies in this area are tumbling out, but the business and creative case seems to be lagging behind. We know what VR can do, but how can we tell stories with it? How can we monetise it?

IBC can bring all the sides of the industry together to dig into all the issues. And not just in debate but by seeing and experiencing the state of the art.

What is the Platform Futures – Sport conference aiming to address?

Platform Futures is one of the strands running through the conference. It looks at how the latest delivery and engagement technologies are opening new opportunities for the presentation of content.

Sport has always been a major driver – perhaps the major driver – of innovation in television and media. For many years now we have had a sport day as part of the conference. This year, we are dedicating the Platform Futures strand to sport on Sunday.

The stream looks at how new technology is pushing boundaries for live sports coverage; the increasing importance of fan engagement; and the phenomenon of ‘alternative sports formats’ like Twenty20 cricket and Rugby 7s, which provide exciting and lucrative alternatives to traditional competitions. It will also examine the unprecedented growth of eSports, and the exponential opportunities for broadcasters in a market that is now pushing towards the half-billion dollar size.

Will IBC and annual trade shows still be relevant in another 50 years?

Yes, I firmly believe they will. Of course you will be able to research basic information online – you can do that now. We have added to the online resources available with our IBC365 year-round online presence.

But it is much harder to exchange opinions and experiences that way. Human nature dictates that we learn best from direct contact, from friendly discussions, from chance conversations.

You cannot do that online. It is why we regard the opportunity to meet old friends and new peers as one of the key parts of the IBC experience.

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