Softel Ltd. & Softel-USA LLC - Sam Pemberton, Chief Executive Officer

Sam PembertonQ. Any thoughts on how the current economic climate will affect the show?

Although attendance will likely be down, the usual adage that the right people still come tends to hold true in my experience. Some of our most exciting projects have come about through conversations at the show during tougher times. I do feel it more important than ever to pre-schedule time so that key meetings take place no matter the change in attendance.

Q. What's new that you will show at IBC2009 and that broadcasters should look for there?

2009 is an exciting year for Softel. We're showing off a new single-box "vFlex" solution, which takes care of the encoding and insertion of ancillary data in to a variety of streams, including SD and HD. The unit handles a whole host of data such as subtitles, captions, wide-screen signals, parental controls, simple graphic overlays, etc. Traditionally a multitude of different units perform these tasks, but making a 1U box solution allows significant savings on rack space (all too often at a premium for our customers these days). Moreover, vFlex consumes a fraction of the electrical power that traditional systems do allowing cost savings and meeting environmental commitments.

The next generation Swift vTX solution handles the transcoding of subtitles and captions and now allows users to encode them on to a range of video servers, such as Omneon, Grass Valley, Harris and Pinnacle. Swift vTX is designed to work in tandem with our flagship Swift TX playout device, which takes care of time-of-air insertion for last minute edits and live shows.

We will also be showing off the latest version of MediaSphere, which is capable of playing out interactivity to a diverse range of platforms, each using a variety of middlewares. Following the same "save hassles, space and power" philosophy behind vFlex, MediaSphere is a 1U solution. Of course, fault tolerance is crucial, so all of our systems are designed to accommodate up to n+n.

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

We aim to create highly efficient systems, which offer excellent value and return on investment while integrating seamlessly into the broadcast or production ecosystem. Our offerings are available as standalone systems, but are also available as pre-integrated OEM offerings through a host of partners. In addition, Softel is the only company that offers solutions within the subtitling 'niche' from creation right through to playout for any format of subtitle or caption and in any language. Equally, very flexible and dynamic systems capable of streamlining the ecosystem are becoming a trade mark of Softel engineering.

It is also of note, that by having systems installed and used day-in and day-out throughout the world, Softel is able to offer truly global expertise.

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

We have U.K. offices in the beautiful village of Pangbourne, near to Reading in Berkshire. Our sister company, Softel-USA LLC has full-service offices in Los Angeles, Calif., and in the New York area. We are an SME company employing more than 50 full-time staff.

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've been attending the IBC conference since 1995. I have a host of fond memories, some of which go back to my very early days attending the show. I recall how in awe I was of the show and how impressed I was (and still am!), by our industry's ability to offer innovative ways to get television to the viewer.

My first year of being lead project manager for the company's showing at IBC was in 1997 and I recall with enthusiasm the evening before the show opening when we had crossed each "t" and dotted every "i." The sense of satisfaction from the whole team stays with me to this day. I remember sitting down for dinner afterwards excited with anticipation of the show's opening the following day. We had a great show, which is, of course, what it's all about!

Like most people who visit Amsterdam regularly, it's hard to single out just one favourite. But if pushed, I'd have to say that one of the best is the very authentic Café Loetje near the Ruysdaelstraat stop from trams 16 or 24. The food is fabulous (especially their fillet steak!) and few places in the world can beat it as a venue to sit back and soak up the local atmosphere. Highly recommended!