There was a time when IBC was the trade show at which all the things shown behind glass at NAB became real products. Recently, though, the tendency of all filmmaking equipment to devolve into a computer has changed things; who needs a Lemsford case full of hardware when you have Resolve, and a laptop? Then again, our preference for not owning computers, but instead using someone else’s computers which are located on a nearby continent, has changed things again.
It’s not all software, though. Fulfilling an unwritten rule that really interesting things must be announced before the show, Fujifilm (and ProVideo Coalition) has already discussed the Duvo 24-300mm zoom, a PL-mounted, broadcast-styled hybrid privately shown as a non-functional mockup in Vegas. Don’t scowl at that 2.9 to 4.2 aperture ramp; the Duvo 24-300 weighs a mere three kilos, is less than a foot long, and it covers full frame sensors with the 1.5:1 extender in. Expect to see it on half-time shows and nature documentaries near you, but don’t ask how much it costs unless you have a really well-funded employer.
That’s a reassuringly solid piece of real hardware, and so is Sony’s recently-announced Burano, of which we’ll say no more, since enough has been said (though, really, that viewfinder on a transitional cinema camera?). Burano and Duvo might coexist wonderfully. A straw poll of other pre-show releases, however, quickly turns to software. Atomos and Teradek have both been pushing cloud-related features designed – among other things – to let people all over the world look at what the taking camera is seeing at any given moment. Whether or not that’s an attractive prospect for camera crews depends on the potential for the client to invite several dozen global executives to look over one’s shoulder. Snark aside, it’s a very new idea.
Beta SP tape
The contrast to that is something like Frame.IO’s storage connect feature, which moves on-premises storage to, well, somewhere-we-don’t-care-where-it-is storage. It seems likely that most of it will come down to storing stuff while we’re travelling and editing it when we get back. That saves luggage, although the workflow is not vastly new compared to, well, changing a Beta SP tape. In an ideal world, this sort of cloud integration will let people do genuinely interesting new things with a distributed production team; having someone sat at home cutting could make for an almost rapid-prototyping approach to film and TV production.
Dedicated cynics might grouse that cloud features are a relatively easy thing to add to devices such as transmitters and recorders. Network code is complex, but it’s very available. Either way, if it’s to be the year of cloud at IBC, that’s not tremendously surprising. It’s already been the year of cloud at NAB, notwithstanding the desires of some people that the show should really have been all about AI. It wasn’t. It was about cloud connectivity.
Still, those of us who work out of the back of a white truck will be comforted know that so long as we want to keep shooting live action, there are things computers still can’t do. Lighting, for instance: Arri has announced its new Skypanel X, with interchangeable modifiers. The Aputure-Prolycht marriage might not yet have spawned spectacular product announcements, but we’ll see.
And until recently, there was one glaringly conspicuous thing that computers couldn’t do: they couldn’t really archive very big data very well. And things haven’t changed that much; there’s still no way to laser data into glass blocks. Recent developments tend more toward refinements of the status quo, such as the recent IBM-Fujifilm collaboration on a 50-terabyte tape cartridge. The IBM 3592 JF (catchy!) is compatible with the IBM TS1170 drive and offers a 50-terabyte native capacity, more than two and a half times the capacity of the current-generation, 18-terabyte LTO-9 tape.
This brings us back to Fujifilm, a company which does a lot more than lenses and stills cameras, which seems to be the media manufacturer for IBM’s tape format. Big Blue itself doesn’t seem to be pushing the device for film and TV work. For its own part, Fujifilm is promoting its bouncily-named Kangaroo, which it describes as a “plug and play long-term data archiving solution.” It looks like a nicely-packaged server, though the tape is LTO, not IBM’s capacious new baby. Still, it’s good to see attention being paid to the traditionally-neglected subject of archiving.
Conjure up sunrise with a mouse gesture
All of which brings us back to our original thesis. We used to archive our 35mm negative in old salt mines (which worked only sometimes). Kangroo, of course, is a computer system, though it’s a big-iron computer system in an impressive flight case. It’s a bridge between the world that turns up in a white truck and carries C-stands for a living, and the world which conjures up sunrise with a mouse gesture. For now, those two worlds seem to be collaborating wonderfully, and it’s a fairly safe assumption that IBC 2023 is likely to reflect that.
The only thing that might stop us finding interesting new things and reporting on them here is if the Amazon Web Services booth has become so vast and opulent that it occupies the entire time zone. Companies like AWS enjoy the film industry because the film industry enjoys big data, and cloud providers charge by the megabyte. AWS was the size of a small village in Vegas, though there weren’t, yet, any defensive fortifications designed to keep people out. Or in.
More to follow from the show floor.