Buzz adds a dimension to IBC

Confab focuses on 3D demos, postproduction consolidation

AMSTERDAM -- 3D and acquisitions in the postproduction sector had leaders of the entertainment-technology industry talking here at the 2009 International Broadcasting Convention.

The discussion surrounding 3D largely is focused on the potential of the home market this year as leaders look forward to the proliferation of 3D-ready TVs.

U.K. broadcaster Sky was on hand demonstrating test content, from sports to ballet, as it prepares to launch a 3D TV channel in 2010. Meanwhile, in the postproduction sector, it was revealed that a new dedicated 3D post house, FlyingS3D, will open next month in Paris.

Scheduled 3D screenings here included a 16-minute preview of James Cameron's "Avatar."

A key element of IBC is its massive technical exhibition, and 3D was visible across the RAI Convention Center floor. Demonstrations included prototype 3D broadcast technology, new 3D camera rigs and a host of 3D capabilities for existing products from postproduction tool manufacturers including Avid, Autodesk, DVS, the Foundry and Quantel.

For many, company acquisitions coming just before IBC underscored the consolidation occurring in the post industry. The economic climate has contributed to the pace of this activity as facilities tighten their belts and in some cases postpone nonessential buying decisions.

Perhaps the most discussed deal was Australian post and broadcast-technology developer Blackmagic Design acquiring DaVinci Systems.

DaVinci is a leading developer of Digital Intermediate/color grading systems that are used by such Hollywood facilities as Technicolor and Ascent Media Group's Company 3.

Blackmagic also owns a postproduction facility in Singapore that owns two DaVinci systems; it was through that relationship that Blackmagic learned DaVinci was for sale. CEO Grant Petty acknowledged that DaVinci had been losing money but that it had a strong product line. He intends to aggressively continue R&D and market the Resolve DI/color grading system as well as the Revival restoration tool. He said his focus would include 3D and high-resolution 4K capabilities.

Also of note was the deal that saw EditShare acquire Lightworks' nonlinear editing family and Geevs broadcast servers.

Lightworks, which launched in the early 1990s, sported one of the first nonlinear editing technologies with the original Avid Media Composer. Although it doesn't have a user base the size of Avid or Final Cut Pro maker Apple, it does have its fans: It's the editing system used by Oscar-winning editor and longtime Martin Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker.

Word also spread about Avid's acquisition of MaxT Systems, a developer of server-based applications and storage. One notable driver was MaxT's work in developing a cloud-based shared editing environment.

On Sunday, the IBC bestowed its International Honor for Excellence, the event's most prestigious award, to the Metropolitan Opera. The Met began its regular broadcasts of Saturday matinees in 1931, and "Live From the Met" has been broadcast on public TV since 1977.

In 2006, the Met began transmitting operas captured in HD to digital cinemas around the world. This season, the program reached 900 screens in 40 countries.