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TECHNOLOGY RTS Thames Valley NAB 2014 review by Simon Tillyer, Editor, tv-bay magazine A sunny, early sum- mer evening wel- comed over 40 people to the RTS NAB review on 14th May. This annual get together features a panel of guests, chaired by Dick Hobbs discussing their experiences and thoughts of NAB. The panel consisted of Maya Severyn (Head of Technical Services & Support - Chellomedia), John Ive (Director of Business Development & Technolo- gy - IABM), Alan Bright (Director of Operations – Presteigne Broadcast Hire) and Graham Pitman (Chairman – Vidcheck). It was described as the best mixed panel for a long time with interests covering a wide range from exhibitor to visitor and with one who decided that NAB was not worth the trip. A quick poll of audience hands showed that around 2/3rds of the au- dience went to NAB this year and with Dick’s working title “who owns you this week”, in reference of course to the multitude of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place recently, the debate kicked off. John Ive is well placed to comment on growth and gave encouraging news that the industry is continuing to expe- rience a 5% year-on-year growth and went on to list a seemingly endless number of companies that have got together in some way or another. As in any business area, mergers and acquisitions are good for the good, but 34 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 90 JUNE 2014 not so good for those that are strug- gling. Although NAB was where these deals were announced, many have been agreed since late 2013 and, as Graham Pitman commented, may well have been on the cards since 2008 when investments stalled and some people have been waiting to get out of the industry and sell up ever since. Maybe now is the time that is right for both investors and business owners? It was predicted that what we have seen in this area is only the tip of the iceberg with a poll indicating that of the 1500 exhibitors at NAB, there are 28% expecting to acquire someone and 33% wanting to be acquired. Robin Lince, on behalf of the IBC, added that 1500 exhibitors has been pretty stable for a number of years with the same reflected at IBC so al- though some leave and some merge, there seems to always be a new sup- ply of innovative companies coming through. Graham Pitman was involved in man- ning the Vidcheck stand during NAB, a duty he hadn’t done for a number of years, and had a very busy time with often not enough staff to cope with visitor demand. He felt this depicted the rise in file-based products whereas more modular based manufacturing booths might not have seen such activity. Commenting further on mergers and acquisitions, Graham went on to give an overview of the large organisations which he considered were tier 1, the middle group being tier 2 and the smaller companies being tier 3. The point being that he felt the tier 2 com- panies had effectively been sucked up by tier 1’s leaving a void in the middle and leaving just the biggest organisa- tions and the smallest with little middle ground. Coming from a “hardware” back- ground myself, I was pleased to hear a voice from the back of the room saying “do we, or do visitors to NAB, really care?” This nicely introduced Alan Bright, Presteigne Broadcast Hire, who as a visitor from a dry hire company, had an insight as to what he was looking for from the show. His first response was that he didn’t really care about mergers and acqui- sitions. The only concern from his part was on-going support and as long as this was maintained then who owns who is not really an issue. Interestingly 50% of their spend is with leading manufacturers who have not had to reduce prices for many years, manufacturers such as EVS were noted in this category as well as lens manufacturers like Canon. Being involved heavily in live sports, Alan’s interest was not predominately around 4k which although works well for drama and other genres is not yet well adopted by live sports for all man- ner of reasons. His thoughts over IP technology for signal distribution were also that the industry is hesitant to adopt at this early stage and much of it is still covering in smoke and mirrors. That said, and as reported in issue 89 of tv-bay magazine, the recent Ox- ford Cambridge boat race utilised an extensive IP mesh network supplied by Presteigne to bring coverage of the race for the host broadcaster. Companies like Blackmagic Design are well known for innovation and caus- ing a stir at shows and this was no different with the release of URSA and its ground breaking $6000 price tag for 35mm 4k technology with modular front end options. Alan’s comments on this were that it certainly can’t be knocked and is impressive but is “uncomfortably cheap”. Sports broad- casting rights being at the upper end realise the savings made for this type of camera wouldn’t make it attractive for a risk adverse broadcaster in the scheme of things. It could, however, be utilised for second screen (red but- ton) type feeds as could many of the new innovative products being shown for the first time at NAB.