5:00 with Simon Westland

Simon Westland, Director of Sales EMEA at Blackmagic Design.
Simon Westland
Simon Westland

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DS: It’s good to see you at CABSAT. What do you see as the main trends in the market right now?

Westland: Across the entirety of our market we are starting to see the Ultra HD pick up. Certainly when we came to CABSAT last year and the year before it was too early for people to really commit to something they were unsure about. Now the real defining difference is that nobody is going out and just buying HD – HD is seen as the lowest, which sounds crazy, but everyone has got one eye firmly on 4K. We know 4K is here because we have seen with all of manufacturers, all of the camera activity is 4K. As soon as the acquisition is in 4K, the other links in the chain have to be 4K as well.

DS: What’s driving that? Is the consumer demand there as well?

What’s driven that is a few things: The camera side of all the acquisition being 4K is one thing, but also if you look at it from a consumer perspective, if you go into any of the electronics and TV retailers there are fewer and fewer HD TVs. Everything else is 4K and the price of those is dropping fast.

It gets into a space whereby it makes sense for the consumer. They see Amazon Prime streaming 4K, they see Netflix with their 4K service. The problem when you looked at 3D was that it wasn’t necessarily an enjoyable experience for people and you didn’t want to sit at home and put glasses on. What happened was that the technology was leading, whereas with 4K, it just feels beautiful, it looks amazing. The extra detail makes it more three dimensional anyway just because you have more pixels and therefore you get a greater sense of depth. So two things that have driven it have certainly been all of the cameras, even when you buy a compact camera now, it’s 4K. The camera technology has driven it on one side and then the delivery at the other side to the TVs means that people are now upgrading everything in between, all the production kit is rising up to 4K, which has become a sort of benchmark for people.

DS: How about the broadcasters - do you think they are ready for 4K?

We talked about the internet guys and broadcasters still have to work out their delivery but we are seeing that come up rapidly now. I know Sky just introduced their new 4K-ready box and they are talking about delivering 4K content in the autumn. Sky are a very significant broadcaster not just in the UK but globally and they are considered to be pioneering.

DS: How is Blackmagic placed with respect to the 4K chain?

We put a lot of energies and a lot of time upfront making sure that we had almost every part of the chain. So our switchers, routers, converters, every one of those products is 4K capable and that’s all with 12 Gig SDI which means you’re doing it on a single cable so instead of going quad or dual link or messing about in terms of different forms of connectivity, we’ve got single cable with 12 Gig SDI.

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