Cameras on and mics off as lights dim at BroadcastAsia
Cameras on and mics off as lights dim at BroadcastAsia
Learning to adopt to innovations and disruption can take its toll, so there’s something almost comforting about visiting BroadcastAsia each year. The products and the technologies may change, but you’re almost guaranteed to witness the same exhibitors and visitors that appear each year in order to ‘catch up’ at Suntec Singapore. Celebrating its fortieth anniversary, the exhibition format is under pressure to further establish itself a viable, current attraction if it is to prosper during its fifth decade.
Following the disappearance of some 2018 exhibitors – notably Chauvet, Christie Digital, Linear Acoustics and Panasonic – the widening aisles combined with increasingly visible common networking spaces don’t bode well.
Rebranded ConnecTechAsia in 2018 by new owner UBM Media, the three-day technology event comprises CommunicAsia, BroadcastAsia and NXTAsia to represent an ecosystem of info-communications, broadcasting and emerging technologies. ‘Despite significant uncertainties in today’s global economy, the pace of the digital revolution remains unabated,’ commented InfoComm Media Development Authority (IMDA) chief executive Tan Kiat How at the ConnecTechAsia2019 opening ceremony. ‘Despite living under a cloud of uncertainty, one thing is clear - digital technology is sparking innovation, boosting productivity, spurring economic growth and raising the standard of living for societies around the world.’
Regardless of the morning rains, large visitor numbers turned up on cue to the opening of ConnecTechAsia in the Marina Bay Sands exhibition centre. With the telecommunications sector catering for the demand for greater speed and connectivity, CommunicAsia focused on the latest developments in 5G, SatComm, fibre communications and broadband technologies. NXTAsia draws visitors who are keen to better understand how emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, Cloud, cyber security, IoT and smart cities are having an impact on industries and businesses.
In contrast, Broadcast Asia welcomed back regular broadcasters and personnel from houses of worship, educational facilities and hotels. Returning to Suntec Singapore for a third year, BroadcastAsia saw little of the IT savvy crowds attending EnterpriseIT and CommunicAsia. Despite the regular free shuttle bus operating between the two venues, the exchange of broadcasters and IT-savvy technicians appeared to be a trickle rather than a flood.
The dynamism and fast evolving changes witnessed at Marina Bay Sands are somewhat less evident at Suntec Singapore although OTT platforms, audio over IP technology, live production, UHD content and the latest film production equipment were all on display. However, visitors converged to witness how the digital environment is changing production, broadcast and content consumption as a result of emerging technologies such as 5G and the IoT. With TV digitisation, networking everywhere has totally transformed the TV industry and this trend can only increase with the emergence of 5G and 4K technologies. Equipment vendors and turnkey suppliers can no longer be reliant on those once in a decade big budget upgrades and as 5G technology is set to become a reality, new customers are needed.
Broadcast? Asia? As an exhibition that is based in Singapore, its regional catchment area has decreased over the years as neighbouring markets have matured sufficiently negating the Lion State to continue its dominance as a regional hub. At best, the attendance of overseas visitors in recent years has constituted 50% of the total. Whether it’s TV or radio, economic analysts argue that broadcasting revenues are in decline as younger viewers turn to Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google displayed on their mobile and smart devices. Indeed, a recent BBC survey in the UK discovered that more viewers are streaming their content from iPlayer than watching live broadcasts.
While consumer demand is driving broadcasters to create content using 4K and 8K cameras from exhibitors such as Arri, Canon, Ikegami, RED and Sony, there was a somewhat familiar feel on the level 4 and 6 show floors of Suntec Singapore. A number of audio console suppliers such as Avid, Calrec, Lawo and Stagetec all presenting their latest platforms for radio, TV and production studios were present.
Clear-Com demanded the attention of event organisers and broadcasters with FreeSpeak, Helixnet, LV Core and Trilogy comms platforms, while LaON Technologies continued to highlight the significance of stable 5GHz technology and RTS demonstrated their user-friendly IP-addressable Odin platform that supports Dante-compatible OMNEO IP technology.
While highlighting the MediorNet decentralised network, Artist digital matrix intercom and Bolero wireless intercom, Riedel, was hosting its regular Techtalk discussion panel on the second day. This year’s experts have also been giving their views to the question ‘Is Technology Empowering Production in Asia?’ The German innovator also invited visitors to take up the Bolero Challenge in which contestants raced each other to set up a predefined Bolero configuration.
Offering 4 and 8 balanced analogue input and output channels respectively to and from the Dante network, Sonifex showcased its Dante-compliant multi-channel VN-AI04 and AVN-AI08 audio interfaces. Fellow Brits TSL highlighted their networkable audio monitors, including the SAM-Q-SDI which included customisable configuration, lockdown controls and expandable capabilities via the licence system. Designed for radio stations on a budget, AEQ Kroma was promoting the Systel IP HD VoiP on-air telephone system.
But this year’s display of microphones provides an accurate forecast of how the AV and broadcast sectors are perhaps evolving. Sennheiser promoted their TeamConnect and MXCW wireless/MXC wired technologies once again at NXT Asia, while Deity under the management of Chen JinFu made a debut appearance at BroadcastAsia. Audio-Technica, beyerdynamic and Yamaha UC were all absent. Both Audio-Technica and Shure were present and correct at last month’s InfoComm SEA in Bangkok, which would suggest the many AV sectors represented by the Thai exhibition promote a better ROI over pure broadcast. While podcasters represent the new wave of broadcasters, the potential offered by the growing corporate, defence, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality and worship sector dwarves it.
Catering to the media, the themes of continued digitalisation, broadcast audio over IP, 4K/Ultra HD and high dynamic range technology resonated on the Suntec show floors. Level three meanwhile enticed visitors with a packed conference schedule. While some exhibitors argued that a segregation of TV and radio-based technologies on both levels would perhaps enhance visitor clarity, the conglomeration of showcased technologies ensured an even dispersion of activities.
With KOBA, SMPTE, BIRTV, InterBEE and a multitude of national broadcast shows all vying for attention, BroadcastAsia is clearly attempting to cement its status as an ASEAN regional hub for future exhibitions. As such, most exhibitors are content in welcoming their customers to familiarise themselves with the Blackmagic Design HyperDeck Extreme 8K HDR or AJA KiPro GO multichannel recorder. Unfortunately, the split in the AV and IT venues goes against the current trend of convergence as few CommunicAsia visitors dedicate a time out to Suntec.
Like fellow fourth level exhibitors Arri and Ikegami, Sony inspired media operators and content creators wishing to practice their camera skills or personally experience the detail associated with HDR, 4K/8K resolution. Designed to streamline live content, the newly launched palm-sized 4K HDR camcorders (HXR-NX80 and PXW-Z900) garnered much interest, while the daily prize draw to win an HXR-NX200 camcorder guaranteed a flock of visitors.
Demonstrating technologies such as Ultritouch, KVM, Dashboard Control, OpenGear and Carbonite switchers, Ross Video was promoting its Ross Unified Venue Control System workflow not solely to broadcasters, but also houses of worship and venue operators.
Asia Pacific marketing and operations manager, Vivian Vu, questioned beliefs that there was little attendee crossover across the three shows. As an exhibitor for the past seven years, Vu stated that the day one attendance has been considerably lower year on year.
One marketing executive representing a major exhibiting manufacturer pondered if the era of the trade show has hit a new low point. ‘Buyers have more options to seek answers from user groups and forums online, he stated. They do not need to come to Singapore from other ASEAN countries where the hotels are super expensive. There seems to be a trend towards downsizing with more exhibitors taking minimum size shell scheme booths. Some of the other larger booths from previous years are now sheltered under their respective native country pavilion where booth space is often subsidised.’
Established media such as the Straits Times and Mediacorp steel themselves against the might of FAANG, possibly prepared that the worst is yet to come. BroadcastAsia can include itself part of this fraternity and as such cannot rest on its laurels.