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Snell & Wilcox — Joe Zaller

Q. What broad technology trends do you think will be front-and-centre at IBC2008?

The industry is going through a series of transitions, with some customers undergoing multiple transitions at the same time — from single to multiplatform distribution, from traditional SD operations to digital, file-based and HDTV operations; and of course, the transition to 3Gbps operations. At the same time, everyone is looking for ways to become more efficient and to “do more with less,” while continuing to get value from their existing equipment wherever possible.

Q. What’s new that you will show at IBC2008 and that broadcasters should look for there?

Snell & Wilcox will have a huge range of new products at IBC2008, and we’re focusing on meeting the needs of our customers as they transition to HDTV and 3Gig operations in a seamless and cost-effective way. There are many examples of this across our product range.

For example, our IQ Modular range of infrastructure products provides both legacy compatibility with existing equipment, while at the same time enabling a smooth and future-proof transition path the HD and 3Gbps operations. At IBC2008 we are adding a number of modules to the IQ range, including support for 3Gbps operations and a comprehensive solution for Dolby E audio.

We are also introducing a number of enhancements for our Kahuna production switcher, which has only gotten more powerful since its launch while picking up significant market share along the way. With these new upgrades, there is more that is new in Kahuna now than when it was first launched! We have quadrupled the size of Kahuna’s RAM and clipstores, enhanced our support for third-party devices, and added new control panels and mainframes to the range. We have also added new functionality to the Kahuna Impakt DVE, including a revolutionary technique called Fluid Effects, which lets users wrap live video over any 3D model, in real time.

And finally, we have enhanced and expanded our conversion product line. At the IBC show we are launching three new standards converters: the Mach HD entry-level motion compensated converter; the Alchemist Ph.C - HD TX, which is designed with teleports in mind; and the CVR700, a linear standards converter that also offers up/down/cross conversion. We’re also adding numerous enhancements to our flagship Alchemist Ph.C - HD standards converter. These include timecode conversion, film tools, and full support for Dolby E audio.

Q. How is your new product offering different from what’s available on the market?

There are a number of things that set Snell & Wilcox products apart, primarily driven by technical innovation, commitment to quality, and customer service. For example our Kahuna production switcher was the first and is still the only true multiformat production switcher, and we continue to push the envelope in terms of product innovation — our new Fluid Effects being a good example. Our IQ Modular range of infrastructure products offers both legacy compatibility and a future-proof solution along with comprehensive control and monitoring and content QC. And in terms of conversion, Snell & Wilcox products are consistently judged best-in-class by customers worldwide.

Q. Where are you based, and how many employees do you have? Anything else we should know about your company?

Snell & Wilcox is an international company with headquarters in the U.K. and regional offices in most major markets. We have about 300 employees, and this year we are celebrating our 35th anniversary, and the 20th anniversary of our first HDTV product. I live and work in San Diego, Calif.

Q. How many years have you been going to the IBC show and what’s your fondest memory? What’s your favorite restaurant or pub?

I attended my first IBC in 1988 when the show was still in Brighton and relatively small. It has been exciting to be part of IBC’s expansion and growth into one of the major industry events of the year. I have many fond memories of IBC shows, mostly revolving around the friendships I have made in the industry over the years. There are many fine restaurants in Amsterdam, and the Dutch hospitality is first-rate. One place I always try to visit in Amsterdam is the Bangkok Thai restaurant, just off the Rembrandtplein. The food is outstanding.