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CUTTING ROOM What a difference a decade makes by Dick Hobbs I f you have got to the back of this magazine, you cannot fail to have noticed that it is issue number 100. I asked Simon Tillyer and Matt Robbins, the dynamic duo behind the publication, how it all started. “The website was initially just a project,” Simon said, “and when Matt arrived in the summer of 2005 we created TV-Bay Ltd”. So naturally, I wondered what was happening in the wonderful world of broadcasting at that time. So I looked at the review of NAB2005 which I wrote for a now-defunct magazine. It started with the news that Omneon – now part of Harmonic – gave journalists pedometers for NAB, with the idea that whoever walked the farthest by the end of Thursday won a prize. It was a great idea – too late for someone to revive it this year, but I can recommend it – but it was let down by poor execution. Once the pedometer was clipped to the trouser belt, the reset button was all too easy to hit so you never got a full reading. I claimed that I must have walked 20km a day, and it is printed in a magazine so it must be true. Re-reading that exhibition review, the one thing that jumps out at me is that I still had to talk about HD as being something specifi c. Leitch (remember them?) launched a server with a software codec, which allowed you to buy an SD server and upgrade to HD later. “You do not need to pay extra for a switchable version,” boasted Dave Dougall. I devoted a couple of paragraphs to a company called Modulus Video (they were acquired by Motorola two years later), demonstrating MPEG-4/AVC. I thought its HD at 10.5Mb/s looked excellent. I mused on whether HD would ever look good at 5Mb/s. Never believe what industry pundits write in magazines. Digital Rapids (now part of Imagine Communications, which is also the current resting place of Leitch) were already showing off cleverer fi le handling than anyone else in the business. They launched an HD version of the Streamz server, which came with 584 gigabytes of storage as standard. Or one-eighth the capacity of the word processor I am writing this on. Over at Sony, there was a “technology demonstration” of XDCam running in HD. I pointed out that, at NAB2004, I had suggested that XDCam would never be capable of recording HD. Clearly I had spurred the entire Japanese software development industry forward to achieve this milestone. Today we tend not to think about resolution as important. Well, most of us don’t, anyway. Marketing folk still get excited by it. Please note, guys, if I get a press release telling 98 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 100 APRIL 2015 me something now supports 4k, my reactions are (1) well why wouldn’t it; and (2) why would I care? Leitch and Digital Rapids are not the only favoured names that have disappeared. Back at NAB2005 the best post production tools were made by the maverick Canadians of Discreet, before it became immersed in Autodesk. I wrote about the advances in process control by Pro-bel, before it became part of Snell, before it became part of Quantel. Announced at NAB was the acquisition by Avid of Pinnacle, a software company that made editing systems for the rest of us. I remember the announcement was made at an event at the end of an interminably long Sunday of press conferences. After the presentation I had just picked up a glass of champagne when the outgoing CEO of Pinnacle came up and asked me what I thought. Tired and jet-lagged, I made what I thought was a relatively incisive but inoffensive comment. Clearly it was not, because I was then dragged into an intensive half hour of detailed discussions about business models and market strata and product positioning. Not sure I ever got to fi nish that glass of champagne. The paragraph in the report that really leaps out at me, though, was about 24. We think of 24 as a current hit show, don’t we? But I wrote, back in 2005, that the fi rst two series of 24 were edited in standard defi nition. Surely that cannot be? I looked it up on IMDB and, sure enough, series 1 was 2001, series 2 was 2002. Hands up anyone who believed they had seen Jack Bauer in standard defi nition. Just 10 years ago, we still needed to know about fi lm scanning and telecine. We worried about the transition to HD. Changing a server meant complex and possibly dangerous fi le conversions. The Z1 was Sony’s best-selling product. People still thought that MXF was the salvation of the future. And we did not have tv-bay’s KitPlus to guide us. If one thing is certain, the next 10 years are going to see even more radical developments than the last decade. If you are reading this on the plane to NAB then good luck with whatever you are shopping for, and if you see anything new and exciting fi nd me and tell me. I’d like to be more accurate in future.