Thoughts Before IBC 2017

The IBC trade show opens in Amsterdam this Thursday. Companies have been sending out press releases for the last 3-4 weeks; either pre-annnouncing their IBC news, or reminding us to visit their booth at IBC.

(Though August, as you can imagine, is a very difficult time to get anyone to think about business, so the rush of press releases picks up significantly after September 1.)

As I read these releases, one phrase that I’m not seeing a lot this year is: “game-changing” and it’s cousin: “This changes everything.” And I think this is a good thing.

Because, from my email and the people I talk with, we are all pretty exhausted with having our game changed every six months – where the gear we bought in February is out of date by September, long before we have it all paid for.

This constant upheaval can work in an industry that’s flush with cash, but most of us – both media producers and the companies that supply them – are struggling with lower revenue and the need to stretch our equipment and budgets further.

All too often, we become paralyzed – unwilling to purchase something new for fear that it will be outdated, replaced or abandoned in a few months. This hurts all of us – end users because we can’t take advantage of the latest technology and manufacturers because no one is buying the technology they have on sale today.

Instead, what I’m seeing is an increasing emphasis on extending the gear that we already have. One example this week was Panasonic unlocking features in their already-existing GH-5. The hardware we bought last year, now does more. Sony is also applying this same software upgrade technique to expand the features of their existing higher-end cameras, rather than force us to re-purchase all new gear.

I expect this “extend through software” trend to continue at IBC; though there will always be new gear announced, that’s just the nature of the beast. However, by reassuring us that the gear we buy today won’t be obsolete tomorrow, everyone benefits.

As an industry, we need to keep growing and pushing the envelope of technology. While, as media creators, budgets look to continue shrinking while competition keeps increasing. Still, leveraging new technology opens up new markets for us to explore and exploit, provided that technology is both affordable and available.

Over the next twelve months I expect to see a renewed balancing between manufacturers needing revenue to continue development and end users needing stability to make money on the gear they have before investing in the next new thing.

But, at least, right now, the game is not changing right out from under us.

As always, let me know your thoughts.

2 Responses to Thoughts Before IBC 2017

  1. Mike Foley says:

    As always, thanks Larry for your expertise and insights. A variation on the “fear that [new gear] will be outdated, replaced or abandoned in a few months” is . . . frustration with the supply/production lag between announcement(s) and actually being able to order-and-receive that next-generation of gotta-have-it equipment.

  2. Caesar Darias says:

    Great points, Larry.

    It’s crazy to say but I’ve recently selectively used my iPhone 7 Plus for B-Roll. I shot 1080 60p and 4K. I doubt anybody would know that I used a phone. With the right lighting anything is possible with that phone.

    The current cover picture of Time magazine with the “Firsts” theme was shot using an iPhone. There are 12 versions.

    If these companies are not careful, a phone may put them out of business. Don’t mess with customers.

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