Broadcast Video Expo Brings the Best Out of London's Soho

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London's Broadcast Video Expo (BVE) has always been a parochial event with a chequered history that has seen it pass through different show titles and owners.

A mini broadcast equipment trade show has been running in the UK capital for 17 years but only last year when it became wholly owned by publishing group Emap, has it finally assumed a strong identity which for most of that time it was lacking.

Held in Earls Court, East London, BVE remains primarily a networking event to which Soho's press, post, and production community decamps for a drink and a catch-up. However the exhibition of around 330 companies does afford those who do not make it to the main trade shows NAB and IBC a chance to get hands on with kit. 

A series of seminars on topics ranging from stereo 3D post production to creating a user generated content channel from scratch, feel better researched, and packaged than previously.

Indeed the event has attracted its largest ever audience with over 13,000 registrations, up 7% on 2010.

What do people come to see? Industry heavyweights Panasonic, Arri, Harris, Avid, Canon and JVC rub shoulders with firms such as Cel-Soft which a new stereoscopic analyser to aid accurate 3D camera alignments; wearable camera systems developer DogCam; and cloud-based editing specialist Forbidden Technologies.

Belgium server manufacturer EVS is using the show to show off new 3D kit. Its DualPower video codec that doubles the recording channels of EVS's XT2  servers for 3D or 1080p operations, also provides four in and out 3D channels, together with support for live 3D-HD SuperMotion replay.

For Geoff Mills, director of global sales and operations at SGO, maker of finishing system Mistika, there is a compelling need to educate the market about how to produce quality stereo 3D.

"Everyone wants to be involved and improve their understanding," he says. "3D, as we know, is not just about using 2D disciplines; there is a learning curve people need to go through. And the more knowledge that is passed on, the better."

According to Mills, technology is one of the most pressing issues affecting 3D. "People are developing tools for the on-set handling and pushing that through to post, but there are workfl ow and compatibility issues. If you take the 2D world, it is pretty much mapped out. But 3D affects things from start to finish, from acquisition to how you show it, and the technology is still evolving."

For broadcasters, there is the added difficulty of delivering the content. Tektronix video applications engineer Mike Waidson presented a session examinging the techniques for transmitting left-and right-eye images, and multiplexing the images into a 1080p 3G signal.

"Correct acquisition of 3D images is obviously the starting point to a successful 3D production, so camera alignment, optics, colour balance and exposure are all very important, but shooting two images more than doubles the potential issues that can affect a 3D production," noted Richard Brooking, Tektronix video marketing manager EMEA.

"As with HD, quality is everything and you only need one ‘weak link' to ruin a 3D production."

A session on how to start, operate, monetise and sell your own UGC online channel was led by Philip Radley-Smith of i2i who urged delegates to follow his example.

Radley-Smith has established 30 sites containing niche content like trains, birds, and cards from user uploaded video. He then aims to sell these sites to publishers like Emap or Bauer which have similar niche interest digital aims.

"Right now there is a landgrab of UGC sites on the web and it's up to you to grab a piece," he told the audience. "Whoever grabs the biggest piece of land is in a stronger position because then other publishers will need to acquire you because you are in their way."

i2i has its own CDN and in-house software development team but he admits that starting from scratch is not easy.

"Start-ups can be very easily bamboozled by the different technology options and vendors," he warned. "It's easy to end up in a cul-de-sac with vendors who will lead you in a certain direction and then leave you there when you want to move on."

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