Q. Evaluate 3D one year after it was perhaps over-hyped by various industry types at IBC 2010—what is it really settling down into?
The 3D popularity cycle is an odd one, generally recurring every 25–30 years, at least in mainstream cinema. The drawbacks in the technology that existed when Jaws 3D hit screens in the ’80s haven’t really been conquered, and until they are I think 3D will be unable to take off in the home market in any major way; over-exposure to 3D in the cinemas during the recent spate of movies already seems to be precipitating an ennui amongst viewers there. As long as people have to don special specs to get the 3D experience I can’t see it making massive headway in the home TV market, sadly. There may be a wider sphere of interest in sports events using current technology, such as those transmitted by Sky in the United Kingdom recently, but I’m not sure how well those have gone over in terms of overall viewer figures.
Q. What broad technology trends do you think will be front and centre at IBC?
I’m not sure that there will be a single overriding trend that will dominate this year, as perhaps 3D did at last year’s show, but I think there will probably be a general ramping-up of interest in technologies that are already in the market. Obviously there will be a lot of continued emphasis on HD creation and related technologies, such as compression and scaling for content distribution across multiple platforms, with IPTV also being a prominent feature for a lot of companies. Digital workflow management systems are bound to feature heavily on a lot of visitor schedules, as organisations increasingly move to all-digital, file-based workflows. However, if I had to stick my neck out and choose one term that we’re likely to see in profusion across IBC2011, I’d say that we’re going to be hearing a lot about ‘the Cloud.’
Q. What’s new that you will show at IBC that broadcasters should look for there?
At IBC2011 we’ll be demonstrating our FlashNet software with the new Linear Tape File System (LTFS) technology that has recently been launched by the LTO Program (IBM, HP and Quantum). We’re very excited by LTFS, as it opens up all sorts of innovative workflows for new and existing users. Tape archives may not necessarily be the most exciting element of broadcast operations, but we’ve already seen a lot of interest in LTFS from major organisations and we think there may well be a bit of a buzz around LTFS at IBC. SGL’s FlashNet fully supports the LTFS standard, and at IBC we’ll be demonstrating just how this new technology can revolutionize workflows for all kinds of broadcast-centric organisations.
Q. How is your new product offering different from what is available on the market?
This is really ground-breaking technology, using LTO5 tape with an advanced file system, which allows portability between disparate systems. Before now, content within an archive has been “locked in” to same-vendor systems, but LTFS now allows tapes and content to be freely moved across systems and departments, and to even change major elements of users’ traditional digital workflows—ingest to archive on location is just one example of how this can be really revolutionary. Unlike other “open” archive formats, LTFS is not constrained to the broadcast environment, and it’s not just another wrapper; media can now be transported across all departments and installations, broadcast or IT. In addition, LTFS is available now, and we’ve already had contact from some large customers enquiring about how they can convert their existing archives.
Q. Where are you based and how many employees do you have? Anything we should know about your company?
SGL is headquartered on the south coast of the United Kingdom, with sales and support offices around the world, including the United States and Asia Pacific regions. Currently we comprise around 30 employees. Last year was our 20th anniversary, and in that time we’ve installed FlashNet in more than 4,000 locations, which isn’t bad for a company that is still managed day-to-day by the original three founders!
At SGL we know what we’re good at, and we stick to it. Content storage management solutions are what we’ve always provided, and we like to focus on the things we’re best at. This means that we can be flexible, truly innovative, and highly responsive to our customers’ needs.
Q. How many years have you been going to IBC and what’s your fondest memory? What’s your favourite restaurant or pub?
I’m a relative newbie on the IBC scene, and this is only my fourth show; however, each year seems to bring something different, which keeps everything interesting. My fondest memory is probably returning to my hotel at the end of day one of my first IBC, when I’d made the schoolboy error of wearing a new pair of shoes! I’m sure that the simple act of removing a pair of shoes has never met with such sounds of pleasure!
Leidseplein is a great people-watching spot, sitting outside under the (heated) umbrellas, and of course the Bell at Rembrandtsplein is always a good hang out for the Brits. (It is rumoured that, if the phase of the moon is right and the wind is in a certain direction, one of the SGL MDs, Bernie Walsh, might occasionally put his hand in his pocket (though such tales may be apocryphal!)). The rijsttafel at the Purimas Indonesian restaurant near Leidseplein is consistently excellent, and the service is wonderful, but for a truly exotic experience I think the SupperClub takes some beating.