IBC 2016…Everything’s rich IP, VR/360, Intelligent and flexible data?

While attending the 2016 IBC show, I noticed some interesting trends, cool demos and new offerings. For example, while flying drones were missing, VR goggles were everywhere; 360 was paramount versus first-person story telling with AI; IBM was showing 8K video editing using flash memory and magnetic tape; the IBC itself featured a fully IP-based video studio showing the path to future media production using lower-cost commodity hardware with software management; and, it became clear and there was no question that digital technology is driving new entertainment experiences and will dictate the next generation of content creation, viewer identification, distribution and consumption including the growing drive to OTT channels.

In general, IBC 2016 featured the move to higher resolution and more immersive content. As mentioned on display throughout the show was 360-degree video for virtual reality, as well as 4K and 8K workflows. Virtual reality and 8K are driving new levels of performance and storage demand, and these are just some of the ways that media and entertainment pros are increasing the size of video files. Nokia’s Ozo was just one of several multi-camera content capture devices on display for 360-degree video.

Besides multi-camera capture technology and VR editing, IBC’s the “Future Tech Zone” included even larger 360-degree video display spheres than at the 2015 event.

IBM had a demonstration of a 4K/8K video editing workflow using the IBM FlashSystem and IBM Enterprise tape storage technology, which was a collaboration between the IBM Tokyo Laboratory and IBM’s Storage Systems division. This work was done to support the move to 4K/8K broadcasts in Japan by 2018, with a broadcast satellite and delivery of 8K video streams of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The combination of flash memory storage for working content and tape for inactive content is referred to as FLAPE (flash and tAPE).

The argument for FLAPE appears to be that flash performance is needed for editing 8K content and the magnetic tape provides low-cost storage the 8K content, which may require greater than 18TB for an hour of raw content (depending upon the sampling and frame rate). Note that magnetic tape is often used for archiving of video content, so this is a rather unusual application. The IBM demonstration, plus discussions with media and entertainment professionals at IBC indicate that with the declining costs of flash memory and the performance demands of 8K, 8K workflows may finally drive increased demand for flash memory for post production.

Probably one of the coolest was Imagine Communications integrated storage technology IOX Storage, a very clever all-purpose “shared” storage approach for access, via OTT, cloud DVR solutions enabling media companies to provide better performance, scale, flexibility, stability and collaboration on the fly.

Summing Up

Well, this years IBC was unlike any of the past as the industry has REALLY shifted and is now ready for full IP engagement…or at least on a road map towards it. 2016 showed some clear trends to more immersive, richer content across all pipes with clear direction towards 360-degree, VR content and 4K workflows. Clearly, the trend is for higher-capacity, higher-performance workflows and storage systems that support this workflow. This will lead to a gradual move to easy use of flash memory to support these workflows as the costs for flash go down. At the same time, the move to IP-based equipment will lead to lower-cost commodity hardware with software control.

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