Creatives flood b'casting technology confab

AMSTERDAM — A newly revamped Intl. Broadcasting Convention bowed its 26th edition Friday in the Amsterdam RAI convention center here with its biggest effort to date to lure in producers and other creatives to this historically technology-oriented event.

The IBC has tried before to bridge the techno gap with such sidebars as the Le Nombre D’Or widescreen awards.

This year’s event, however, has brought in a phalanx of high-powered consultants and industry toppers, largely from the creative side, to talk interactivity, high definition (HD), D-Cinema, even copyright, in more than four dozen no-nonsense conferences and panels aimed at producers and other creatives.

IBC president John Wilson told Daily Variety that in a multi-platform economy, “the need to bridge the gap between producers and the technical side of the industry is greater than ever.”

Teaching technology

Michael Crimp, corporate affairs director for the event, added, “We found with the Le Nombre D’Or Awards,” which gave out kudos to widescreen (16×9) productions. “Producers came, but instead of attending the screenings, they were on the exhibition floor trying to understand the technology. We wanted to help them along.”

Among those attending and often chairing sessions were toppers from the Motion Picture Assn., the American Film Institute, the BBC, Germany’s ZDF and a raft of other broadcasters and production companies, mainly from Europe and North America.

Some like John Norton, production manager for Seven Resources, an arm of the Australia’s Seven Network, made the trek across the globe for the first time.

Following a conference on HD presented by several BBC toppers, he told Daily Variety: “The new IBC brief couldn’t come at a better time. The Australian government requires us to produce 20 hours of HD a year as of July 2003. I’ve got just nine months to get people trained and get something up and running.”

The convention has more than 1,000 companies exhibiting on the floor of the RAI, 6% fewer than last year. The IBC several years ago drew nearly 50,000 delegates and 1,400 companies exhibiting, but a general recession in the industry has thinned it, and Crimp said he couldn’t really predict how many delegates might eventually show up before the event ends Tuesday.

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