IFA, IBC, Cedia and Cinema

I’ve had a writing week and my fingers have been hammering at the keyboard. We got the IFA report out earlier this week and the main issues were just a few hours behind. I attended the Midwich Technology Exposed event at Mercedes Benz World at Brooklands on Wednesday and we’ll try to get that report done for LDM next week (the company is the biggest A/V distributor in the UK).

For the rest of the coming week, I’ll be punishing the keyboard to get the IBC report done. This time of year is crazy for us, with, IFA, IBC and, of course, Cedia. Thanks to Chris for his help with IFA and the Cedia report – he’s showing me up in getting things done. I would have liked to have covered another couple of events this month, but we just ran out of bandwidth.

The three shows are very different. IFA is about consumers and TVs, while IBC is about TV production and transmission and both of those are very European shows. On the other hand, Cedia is about high end home cinema and the installation market, which is much bigger in the US than in Europe. The ISE show is supported by Cedia in Europe, but the focus of that event is very much on the commercial side of things, rather than home cinema and I suspect that there were more high end home cinema demos at IFA than I remember seeing at ISE.

The weaker market for home theatre in Europe reflects a number of factors, I believe.

I have often said that when I am having dinner with friends in Europe, it’s rare for the conversation to get around to recent movies, although there may be a lot of discussion of good TV programmes, whether ‘scandi noir’ or Breaking Bad. However, if I’m with friends in the US, there is often a discussion about recent releases (or classics). Although there is a history of good cinema all across Europe, for most people, cinema is not seen as very culturally significant, compared to literature or music. The influence and importance of Hollywood is always a surprise for me when I’m on the other side of the Atlantic.

The exception to this trend for cinema not to be taken seriously is probably France and that may explain why France is often quoted as the strongest home cinema market in Europe. The French government has often been keen to support the local industry. Of course, the Cannes film festival is the biggest film festival in Europe and Mipcom is, as I understand it, the key event for trading TV content in Europe, which reflects this interest. (or it may just be because of the weather and environment of Cannes!)

Of course, another factor in Europe is that house or apartment sizes are often so much smaller that home cinemas are simply not practical. There are some people that use projectors as TVs, and, of course, better brightness and the elimination of lamps are making that a more practical proposition. I reviewed a projector earlier this year and was surprised how practical that was. However, I don’t think that I’m about to trade my PDP in, yet. On the other hand, I have a big room that I don’t currently use, so it would be a fun project to try to get it set up as an occasional home cinema room.