The future of broadcasting – from industry insiders at IBC 2017

Canon staff overlooking IBC through a broadcast camera’s lens on the Canon stand at the 2017 International Broadcasting Convention (IBC).
Canon staff survey the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) through telephoto field lenses from atop the lens steps on the Canon stand. Shot on the Canon EOS 6D Mk II. © Joby Sessions

From IP-only delivery through to harnessing higher quality output in 4K and Ultra HD, it’s all change for the broadcast industry as shifting viewing habits and new digital platforms challenge traditional strategies and encourage experimentation in online arenas.

Viewers are no longer tethered to their living rooms.

“Viewers are no longer tethered to their living rooms,” Justin Gupta, Head of UK Broadcast and Entertainment at Google told this year’s International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, Holland. “Video didn’t kill radio in the end so I think TV is safe from the Internet, but it is evolving.”

“At the moment, broadcasters are trying to ride two horses with one saddle,” says Liz Ross, CEO of Freeview Australia, which brings free-to-air broadcasters onto one digital television platform. “There’s both the broadcast side and the digital side – but often they still have one budget and one structure.”

With a push for ever higher quality images, and faster turnaround times on production, new technology including the 4K UHD capabilities found in Canon’s XF405 compact professional handheld camcorder, offers exciting opportunities for the industry as it moves forward in the changing landscape.

Changing viewing habits

The way viewers watch television has changed dramatically in recent years, as on-demand services and streaming giants, such as Netflix and YouTube, take an increasing slice of the market. Digital platforms demand quicker delivery and have inspired more global-minded broadcast strategies to keep up with viewer appetite for immediate content.

The new Canon XF405 compact camcorder films 4K UHD at frame rates of up to 60p, and features a 15x optical zoom with a full-frame equivalent range of 25.5-382.5mm.
The new XF405 compact 4K camcorder gives broadcasters the flexibility to work alone in the field while recording 4K UHD at frame rates of up to 60p. © Joby Sessions

Fast-changing patterns of video consumption mean millennial viewers are spending less time with traditional broadcasters in favour of social and mobile platforms. Social networks are also becoming more video-orientated – video now makes up 50 per cent of all of Facebook’s mobile data traffic, the firm’s Product Director Daniel Danker told IBC.

There is more and more content available – anyone can now self-publish on social channels and smaller, more portable cameras have contributed to the rise of the single shooter. The EOS C200 offers 4K in Cinema RAW Light from a body that weighs approximately 1,430g, making it perfect for a run and gun shooter who’s looking to provide content in a format that more and more clients are clamouring for.

“It’s important to remember there are a lot of competitors coming in, so don’t sit on your hands,” says Kim Poder, CEO of Modern Times Group Denmark. “Change your business models and adapt to new audiences.”

“Anything that Facebook or YouTube are developing, whether it’s a linear service or investing in video, is absolutely competition,” says Ross. “We also see platform synergies come out of all of this – Facebook has become a really powerful platform to cross-promote, to build anticipation, get your promo videos up and get a water cooler effect. Social networks play a big, cost-effective role in marketing, particularly where that tougher-to-reach, younger audience is concerned.”

Quality control

Whatever the platform, there is a consistent drive for better quality, with moving image makers increasingly choosing to shoot in 4K, and digital broadcasters including Netflix and Amazon demanding materials delivered to them in the same resolution.

The whole of the broadcast industry is tuning into 4K.

“Higher quality output, particularly 4K and UHD on the TV, is becoming really important,” says Ross. “I’m always a little more questioning about how forgiving a consumer is of the resolution on a smaller screen. But there’s an expectation, and particularly if a consumer is switching from watching linear HD to watching a programme on an app – they are going to notice the difference.”

“The whole of the broadcast industry is tuning into 4K,” says Paul Atkinson, Canon’s European Pro Video Product Specialist. “It gives you an image that has more clarity, more colour, more depth and more contrast. People are demanding this kind of higher image quality and larger TVs to watch it on.”

Broadcasting is increasingly mechanised, as robotic arms and arrays move cameras into new positions to capture the best action.
Broadcasting is increasingly mechanised, as robotic arms and arrays move cameras into new positions to capture the best action. © Joby Sessions

“There’s also more of a demand for the high dynamic range output and Canon is able to accommodate it,” he adds. “We film in a wide dynamic range with a wide colour space. What we are doing there is providing the maximum amount of image and colour information, which allows you to operate in a high dynamic range workflow environment.”

These higher specifications are now being housed within increasingly smaller products. The newly-released XF405 professional handheld camcorder is compact enough to enable broadcasters the flexibility to work alone in the field, while recording 4K UHD at frame rates of up to 60p.

Featuring a 15x optical zoom with a full-frame equivalent range of 25.5-382.5mm, the camcorder is ideally suited for fast-paced news or documentary environments – with the lightweight body coming in at 5.3in x 3.8in x 8.4in and just over 1130g.

“The new XF405 is a small, handheld 4K-capable camera that records in a very web-friendly format,” says Atkinson. “This also makes it relatively easy to edit footage you capture on it.” Despite the shift in viewing habits, the demand for moving image is creating opportunities for broadcasters, with technology making the industry more accessible than ever before.

Canon’s IBC stand (D60) can be found in Hall 12, at the RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, between 15 and 19 September.

Skrevet af Lucy Fulford