Wrap-up from IBC
Last week, I returned to Singapore from the IBC trade show in Amsterdam. This is one of the largest shows, covering every aspect of the broadcast industry – from creative workflows, cameras, editorial, over-the-air delivery, and “Over-the-Top” delivery (to the Web, mobile devices, and set-top boxes.)
In a word, WOW. Amazing show, both for the industry at large, and for Adobe in particular.
Some interesting trends are happening that will change the quality of the media we watch in the near future. One of the buzzwords from the show was “HDR” imaging, and there are new cameras and display technologies that are driving this. The industry has stopped pushing more pixels on the screen, and is now focusing in on smarter, richer pixels. This means that colors that weren’t visible on a TV before are now possible. Brightness levels can be so bright that the image looks like a sunlit window.
In technical terms, the color space is called Rec. 2020, and it’s a wider color gamut than the Rec 709 spec used in today’s HD workflow. For brightness, the upcoming range of monitors can be 10 times brighter in terms of nits – today’s televisions go from 0-100 nits, and the next generation will go up to 1000 nits. Eventually, this could go as high as 10,000 nits, which is approaching the brightness of an outdoor day. This means that there can be rich detail in the shadows and the brightest parts of an image without blowing out. Bright flashes can have color to them, without being blown to a uniform white.
Television makers are already jumping on board, with the latest generation of televisions from companies like Sony and Samsung. Sadly, there’s no uniform name for these technologies. I did note that Samsung is using “SUHD” to denote their televisions that support richer color and high dynamic range.
Of course, to make this possible, new cameras pushing dynamic range have to be used. Companies like RED and Black Magic are pushing the native dynamic range of their sensors – 12 -13 stops was the range of 35mm film, and now we are seeing cameras pushing 14, 15, even 16 stops. Add to this compositing and post-production techniques, and it’s now possible to create a really compelling experience that hasn’t been seen before.
Adobe announced a number of upcoming features to the Creative Cloud video tools. One of these is a new workflow to accommodate this new HDR workflow. In Premiere Pro, a preview of new scopes that handle up to 10,000 nits of brightness was shown. And, new HDR Highlight control in the Lumetri panel was previewed. Adobe also talked about supporting the new Dolby Vision mezzanine codec, which is specifically designed for handling the new HDR and Rec 2020 signals. Dolby’s booth showcased their end-to-end workflow, and Premiere Pro was specifically shown as part of the HDR workflow.
On a completely different note, the presentations in the booth were stellar this year. Walter Murch was one of the speakers in the Adobe booth. If you haven’t heard of Walter Murch, you should look him up – he’s the only person on the planet to be Oscar-nominated for best editing on 4 different platforms*. And he talked about his experiences editing his latest documentary on Adobe Premiere Pro in 2 separate sessions. And he was the headlining speaker at the Supermeet, an independent event alongside IBC for editors.
Another presenter was Dado Valentic, a master colorist who has worked on over 60 feature films. He showcased the new color workflows in the Adobe Creative Cloud, including new mobile applications like Adobe Hue, and showed them working in a professional environment.
One of my favorite presentations was from Simon Bryant. He’s a music video editor, and has worked with artists like The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, and One Direction. He showcased the multicam technique he uses, and at one point he spent about 5 minutes talking about dialing in one specific cut in a video, providing a stream of consciousness description of what he’s thinking while cutting. I was mesmerized by his presentation, and when I turned around, so was everyone else – traffic had stopped in the aisles around the Adobe theatre.
The last area of interest I saw at the show was in the repurposing of content for mobile, web, and set-top streaming. Collectively, this is known as “over the top” delivery, and Adobe had a presence at the show in this space as well with Adobe Primetime. A number of my meetings with broadcasting clients all referenced over-the-top delivery, and Primetime had a lot of traffic at their counter.
Again, the nature of broadcasting is that it’s always evolving and changing. Lots of exciting stuff coming, both in the industry at large, and from Adobe in particular.