IBC, the annual ‘big meet’ for the broadcasting industry, matters more this year than it does in most other years.
The level of turnout by visitors and exhbitors, the quality of press announcements and the general level of buzz around the show will tell us whether or not the industry is back on its feet after the doom and gloom of 2009.
There is, of course, very little chance that manufacturers will turn up telling us that everything is back to where it was in 2007. We won’t get to that point any time soon, if at all. But they will be able to give us some idea of whether or not orders are starting to trickle back in after last year’s project cancellations and delays.
Another reason the show matters is that it will give us a much clearer idea of whether or not stereoscopic 3D is going to take over the world. In case you haven’t noticed, suppliers are flogging S3D like mad, hoping that consumer demand for it is going to help lead the industry out of the current slowdown referred to above.
Whether or not filmmakers and broadcasters feel the same way is another thing. Few are likely to want to invest in new infrastructure when they’ve only just finished upgrading their systems to support HD.
From an artistic perspective, do filmmakers really think that 3D is the best way to showcase their work? If you read this column last month, you may have noticed that we are not that fussed about 3D. While Avatar on an Imax screen may be an amazing experience, there’s a big difference between a film conceived over ten years with a mega budget and the typical kids animation film. For us, a typical 3D movie experience is no better than a 2D experience; you just have to wear the silly glasses.
This is where sports comes in. Suppliers are increasingly mentioning sport as the thing that is going to make 3D the new HD. That’s why the IBC Conference will dedicate a whole day to sports broadcasting on September 11. Stereoscopic 3D and its potential role in sports broadcasting will feature prominently throughout the day.
If 3D really can make the experience of watching sport more enjoyable, and thus boost ratings and advertising, perhaps it will gain widespread consumer acceptance. Otherwise, it may remain just a niche and not the driver of recovery the industry hopes it is going to be. IBC will give us a clearer idea of which way things are going to go.