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IBC Big Screen 2019 learnings

I made my first trip to IBC in Amsterdam this week; for the uninitiated, IBC is a HUGE trade show for broadcast and film technology – I’m told 50,000+ people attend from all over the world. It’s sprawling -- there are entire rooms filled with exhibitions of microphone covers, or cables, or speakers, or camera cases, or (more excitingly) cranes. No offense to the tripod peddlers, but my favourite booth had to be NHK’s, which had a gorgeous 8k TV display as well as some early prototypes of glasses-free 3D monitors and a rather scary yet cool look at how we might be using AR with our home TV sets in coming years.

Luckily I wasn’t at IBC buying or selling any equipment, instead of I was MC’ing and moderating at IBC Big Screen, a conference -- excellently curated by Pippa Considine -- that talked to experts in that overlap between creative and technology.

Here are some of my favourite tidbits from the Big Screen sessions:

There is one real scene shot of Africa in The Lion King. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel said the crew’s trip to Africa, and its resulting footage, was used mostly for reference later. But the initial shot of a sunrise was one he captured in a remote spot in the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. VFX supervisor Robert Legato noted that that particular scene was called out by some fans as looking too beautifully fake (cue laughter). Deschanel remembers lions coming within about 10 feet of the crew when they were shooting in Africa.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’s post-production team worked on the project in 250 separate chunks (aka scenes). There is more than 5 hours of footage in all.

The next David Attenborough wildlife epic looks amazing as usual. Seven Worlds, One Planet examines at how diverse life developed on each continent and how that diversity is being lost now. Trailer for Seven Worlds... here. The shoot involved 80 expeditions in 40 countries; 1,400 filming days and 3,000 hours of footage. It will premiere this autumn on the BBC. Can’t wait.

At any given time, BBC Natural History has 50 crews working around the globe. The BBC’s Natural History Unit uses drones not just to shoot stunning landscapes but to observe animal behaviour in ways you can’t see on the ground. From above, they could see Galapagos sea lions chasing tuna like a pack of, well, lions.

There is a scene completely cut from Rocketman that’s “Honky Cat” done with a 1920s theme. Here’s hoping it's on the DVD extras?

Game of Thrones fans became so obsessed with the show that they tried to fly drones over the set in Belfast to figure out if Jon Snow was still alive. Season 1 had only about 5 dragon shots the whole season, by the final season there were about 260 dragon shots in the big battle episode.

The forthcoming independent feature film Nomad, directed by Taron Lexton and with Kevin Garrison as cinematographer, is shooting in 25 countries with all natural light, no greenscreen, all shot on real locations, and no CGI. It’s being readied for a December 2020 release. The film team had less than 2 1/2 minutes to shoot a scene in Chile with the July 2019 solar eclipse as the backdrop.

India has more than 800 TV channels, and 30 OTT services. In 2019, for the first time, original content produced for OTT services will be greater than original films (the count was 1800 hours of OTT original content in 2018). Hit films Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion shot for 300 days each feature. Imagine a 300 day shoot, people. You can watch on Netflix.

our panel of Indian film experts (and we learned why we can't call them Bollywood)

And some other random observations at IBC:

There is a canalside “Beach Bar” behind the convention centre. They sold mini kegs of Heineken! An innovation I would like to see at all film festivals. Maybe you will see me in Cannes with one of these in a backpack….

There is a crazy restaurant across the street from the RAI conference centre that charges you by the hour. We pre-bought the minimum of 2 hours. Strange concept. But surprisingly tasty food and all the beer you can drink in your time slot.

Why queue at the bar when you can just buy your own keg?


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