Challenging times

I am writing this on 18 March, but only 77 days in 2011 is proving to be a momentous year for global events.
We started out with catastrophic floods in Australia, then the earthquake in Christchurch. I once spent a wonderfully happy day in Christchurch, and it was, at least until 22 February, without doubt the loveliest small city I have ever visited.
A particular sadness for me and for our industry is that one of the buildings that was completely destroyed was the local production base for CTV. Making good local television in somewhere as beautiful as Christchurch must have seemed a dream job.
At the same time the spirit of revolution is growing in the Middle East and North Africa, starting relatively painlessly in Egypt but growing more and more uncomfortable in previous peaceful places like Bahrain. As I write, it looks as though the West is going to be intervening in the civil war in Libya.
And finally there was the massive earthquake off Japan. That led to the tsunami which caused such destruction, wiping out whole communities and causing loss of life on a scale we will probably never fully understand. In the path of the tsunami was the nuclear power station at Fukushima, taking out much of its infrastructure which in turn has led to fears of radiation leaks. By the time you read these words, in a couple of weeks time, we will know much more about the integrity of the structure.
The awful devastation in Japan has been brought home to us by the sheer amount and quality of the video footage. This is not shakycam or mobile phone clips but well shot HD of the water as it tore through towns, a tribute to the bravery as well as the skill of the camera operators.
You do not need me to remind you of any of these events: the news is filled with the sadness of it all. But I have been reflecting on what it might mean for our industry in the coming months.
News directors everywhere are, I am sure, weeping over their budgets as they despatch reporters and presenters to the latest hotspots, following additional safety and survival training. They struggle over the logistics of shipping flyaway satellite uplinks from Tripoli to Tokyo. Crews are robbed of time with their families: I know of one engineer who had barely returned from the Tunisia/Libya border before being summoned to Osterley ready for the first available flight to Japan.
But this issue of TV-Bay will be published for NAB, and with so many leading manufacturers being Japanese, we have to wonder how they will cope with the coming crises.
Whatever happens to the Fukushima power plant, I think we can all be certain that it will not be generating any power in the foreseeable future. That is currently leading to power reductions across Japan. If as a result of the Fukushima situation other power nuclear installations are also taken offline temporarily that would lead to a massive power shortage, which could severely restrict the manufacturing ability of the country.
I am already hearing stories that it is becoming harder to find stocks of HDCam tapes. The price of flash memory chips has already soared 20%.
There is also an economical element to the problem. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the value of the Japanese yen went up in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. We have all seen the devastation caused, the destruction of whole cities, and we can only begin to guess at the billions the reconstruction will cost.
So the Japanese government, and the insurance companies, have to move money out of overseas investments and repatriate the funds, which pushed up the value of the yen. Now the G7 group of countries has intervened in an attempt to stabilise the currency but how long we can continue to manage the market is unclear to me – the rest of the world has its economic problems, too.
It seems likely to me, then, that the impact will continue for some time after the initial shock has faded. We may find ourselves in the difficult position of wondering whether to entrust our business with a Japanese company because of security of supply and cost, when we know that our moral responsibility is to stick with those manufacturers who have been such powerful allies and partners in the past. It is not going to be an easy dilemma to resolve.
For those of you who turn to the back page of TV-Bay for the usual light-hearted whimsy, I apologise but it did not seem appropriate just at the moment. My thanks go to all the reporters, camera operators, recordists and engineers who are braving privations and personal danger to bring the news to our homes. It is vital in keeping us informed about our world.
For those of you making the trip to NAB, safe journey and I will see you there. We can, at least, all hope that we will be able to get home again this year.

Tags: iss052 | floods | ctv | tsunami | japan | devastation | Fukushima | hdcam tapes | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • PacTV Truck at NAB 2014

    PacTV Truck at NAB 2014

BSC Expo 2019 Report
Paul MacKenzie BSC Expo returned to the Battersea Evolution on Friday February 1st and Saturday 2nd. It is a busy and friendly event though this year in need of some temperature control: exhibitors around the entrance area were uncomfortably aware of the wintry conditions outside and the main hall was in need of cooling.
Tags: iss136 | bsc | cinematography | canon | c700 | c200 | cartoni | holdan | blackmagic | peli | panasonic | sennheiser | sony | fs5 | teradek | viten | flowtech | Paul MacKenzie
Contributing Author Paul MacKenzie Click to read or download PDF
Looking for the Silver Lining
Harry Grinling According to the World Meteorological Organisation, there are 10 different types of cloud, each of which can be divided further into sub-types. They range from the cirrus, the thin floaty clouds which generally serve only to make the sky look beautiful to the towering, all-embracing cumulonimbus which can deliver fearful quantities of rain – the biggest cumulonimbus clouds can contain 50 million tonnes of water.
Tags: iss136 | cloud | lto | archive | storage | Harry Grinling
Contributing Author Harry Grinling Click to read or download PDF
TV Futures - The Shadowing Experience
Daniel Jones My name is Daniel Jones, and it is no accident that I’m currently studying BSc (Hons) Television and Broadcasting at the University of Portsmouth. Since completing GSCE media studies I have been constantly questioning what I watch with questions such as, “Wow, how was that filmed?” or “That looks amazing, I wonder how long that took?” It should come as no surprise that I made it a big focus of mine to get myself some real work experience to give myself some answers to these production questions.
Tags: iss136 | portsmouth university | runner | student | education | training | Daniel Jones
Contributing Author Daniel Jones Click to read or download PDF
Streaming - Shut up and Sit Down
Matt Lees Twilight Imperium is a board game all about strategy and backstabbing. Known for its length of gameplay, the team behind Shut Up and Sit Down decided to deliver a mammoth 10-hour live broadcast, streamed to Twitch. Matt Lees is here to tell us how it went down.
Tags: iss136 | streaming | blackmagic | atem | 4k | canon c100 | sony pxw-z90 | Matt Lees
Contributing Author Matt Lees Click to read or download PDF
NAB Intelligence
Bruce Devlin - new It's that time of year again. 06:30 on road bikes on the Las Vegas Strip with a merry bunch of folks who believe they look good in lycra. As we pedal West up the hill towards Red Rock there will be stories of the year just gone and questions about what to look for at the show. I, for one, will be attending the Devoncroft event to check up on who is spending what and where. I will then look forward to the topics that might be buzzing around the halls. I predict there will be many displays of Machine Learning hiding under the banner of Artificial Intelligence. Some of these will show better picture quality, others will show personalisation engines, some will be improved search tools and yet more will be synthesising pictures and motions to replace reality with and Artificial reality that's more compelling for the viewer.
Tags: iss136 | nab | class | ai | smpte | st2110 | imf | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF