Tech-minded IBC stretches creatively

Attendance up from last year

AMSTERDAM — It was a curious Intl. Broadcast Convention that closed Tuesday, reflecting an industry in a state of flux and tech companies eager to forge links with the creative side of the business.

The 26th edition of the event, held at the Amsterdam RAI convention center, drew some 40,000 attendees, up 5,000 from last year, when IBC unfolded during the same week as the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.

In prior years, the convention has drawn considerably better, but organizers admitted that industrywide recession has left its mark.

Reaching out

This go-round saw a major effort to broaden this usually tech-dominated event, but a series of several dozen themed sessions aimed at drawing in producers and creatives had mixed success.

The conference sessions and master classes, some chaired by industry toppers such as Nick de Martino, director of the American Film Institute’s New Media Technology Section, and Emmy-winning f/x supervisor Mike McGee (“Dinotopia”) “were an important breakthrough in that they were techno babble-free,” noted John Wilson, president of the IBC.

Wilson added that heavy attendance at the sessions “tells us we are on the right track and we plan to go even further down the same road next year.”

That’s a good plan, according to Nigel Woodcock, business development manager for BBC training and development. Woodcock, who has made the trek to IBC for the last eight years, told Daily Variety, “I can’t see that we’ve been overwhelmed by creative and production people this year, although had we been, it would have been a great step forward.”

Combat coverage

Chris Cramer, president of CNN Intl. Networks, was among a raft of industry toppers at the event. In a keynote speech, he left little doubt that preparation is under way for war in Iraq. “Covering this conflict will require new editorial and technical skills,” he said, adding, “We will be constrained only by access and by physics in terms of what we can get down a videophone.”

Some 1,000 companies, down 6% vs. 2001, exhibited their latest tech wares at IBC. In an informal poll, several exhibitors said they were seeing a cautious turnaround in the industry since a low point late last year.

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