BIRTV, Beijing’s International Television & Film equipment exhibition was held this year from August 22 – 25. Attendance was up 5%.
The Chinese market seems to be showing interest and acceptance of high caliber products. Around 500 manufacturers exhibited, directly or through their local representatives: Arri, Sony, Tiffen, Grass Valley, Cooke, Fujifilm, Angénieux, Canon, P+S Technik, Cartoni, Shape, Transvideo, Miller, Lite Panels, Cinetech Italiana, SFDF, Hitachi, Technicolor, Panasonic, Fujinon, just to name a few.
The number of professionals and visitors made this BIRTV 2012 one of the largest events within the film and broadcasting industry in Asia, and as the market in China continues to grow, BIRTV is now, more than ever, the showcase for top-of-the-line products.
Production, content, as well as transmission were the themes of this year’s show. Among these highlights, visitors focused on further exploration and improvement of production as well as transmission and display of content in HD, 3D, and other formats, while Digital Cinema was presented by both technicians and management from around the world.
As last year, several Film and Digital Times friends and sponsors were in Beijing and we took note of their remarks and reflections about this year’s BIRTV.
Pat Grosswendt (Litepanels), said, “In regard to BIRTV, I felt that the response was not restricted by seminars or the lingering effects of a diverse economy. Those who made it to our booth enjoyed what they saw and understood that advancements we have placed in our broad product line play well into the technical advancements of LED technology. No matter how small the crowds seemed to be in the International building, people made it a point to come by and kick the tires.
“On the whole, it was slow. Slow for all, until a surge of interested people came along. The visitors we experienced in the Vitec booth were people truly interested in taking a bigger step towards a purchase and usage. Many of them have been sitting on the fence or considering purchasing — or had purchased some domestic brands as well as international options, but returned due to their dissatisfaction with those choices or opinions. As a manufacturer, those kind of communications are very strong statements to the end-users’ perceived value of a similar product compared to ours. From that vantage point, the show has greater value than the mere numbers of people that walk into the building. Realizing the difference is the difference.
“It seemed as if there weren’t as many domestic copy-cats as in the years past, but still a sweltering amount of similar products to ours in regard to the all very well-known Litepanels 1×1 or Litepanels on-camera products.
“I think that a live presentation such as the one we offered our clients, with product at hand’s reach with a human model interacting with their camera, offers more of what some people desire. It is easy to have a blue screen with a model or a beach setting with cameras around the stand for the end-user to focus on the talent in bathing suits to pretend they are checking the sharpness of the focus or depth of field. But by trying to get the clients into the booth, offering products at work for that touch and feel experience, for that realistic approach to lighting talent, really works well.
“A more inviting personal relationship is what I think is needed in any show. So that no matter how many people come, large crowds or small, there is a tactile experience they have had when they walk away from our booth.
“China and APAC countries are truly different from a foreigner’s perspective compared to an NAB, for example. But still, somewhat similar in that people are bored with the task of having to go. Long travel, crummy hotel rooms and service, etc. The anticipation by Day 3 of tearing it all down and getting home or back to a backlog at the office. Cine Gear, Satis or Micro Salon in Paris, or Cinec in Munich, on the other hand, have that personal relationship mantra as it is in Hollywood, and attended by Hollywood or local film pros. NAB, IBC, BIRTV are attended by some film crews, but mostly engineers and chiefs. It becomes a precursor to that next step, which is a demonstration in person at their facility. In their house. And we all want that.
“So, in a way the shows are a necessity for all of us. I guess we just need to make lemonade out of the lemons that slow shows seem to give us.”
Nicolas Meallier (Angénieux) said, “Thales Angénieux was pleased to participate once again at this year’s BIRTV show. Visitors at the JEBSEN booth (Angenieux’s partner in the area) had the opportunity to see and try for the first time in China the latest Optimo 19.5-94, one of the two brand new Optimos presented earlier this year at NAB.
“New versions of the Optimo 24-290 and the Optimo 17-80, the Optimo 28-340 and 19.5-94, were specially designed for today’s larger format sensor cameras and S35 film cameras — with an image diagonal of 31.4mm.
“Jebsen also presented the Optimo 45-120, and the two Optimo DP zooms: 16-42 and 30-80. Developed a few years ago, the Optimo DP family has become popular for digital cameras (Alexa, Red one, Red Epic, etc.) in the US, Europe and Asia.
“As for the Optimo 45-120, launched at last year’s NAB, it quickly became a ‘must have’ of the Optimo family thanks to its optical performance in such a small size. See you next in Beijing in 2013.”
Alex Chelleri (Tiffen) said, “Let me say that BIRTV was as usual mixed for my 18th time: not as many people of importance, as the Olympics had taken their budgets. September is budget time for the TV and Film industry, and in October there will be a change of leader in the political party, who in turn will reshuffle the most important positions in the ministries.
“Having said this, China remains on track to consume more Tiffen products each year. Their ambitions seem to be the same as, or even better than, the West in so many areas, like spending money on foreign products. This helps them to compete on the foreign markets when comparing the equipment used on each film.
“I always explain it this way. The first question asked in China is: ‘Who has one of these?’ In the West, I am asked, ‘How much is this?’ So you can see that the Chinese are more interested in ‘association’ rather than by costs.
“The BIRTV show has always been a way for us foreigners to gauge how much effort we should put into a market that has so many ‘home-grown’ products. I always come away knowing that with regular monthly visits, knowing the ‘right’ people, and being able to educate the market beyond the product helps to build business.”
Luke Tai (Infratrans Vision) said, “From my company’s perspective, this year’s BIRTV was very successful, maybe due to the good location of our booth. Since the 3D industry has already become the Chinese government’s established policy, many customers pay attention to our company and we got many enquiries after the show. So this was really a successful exhibition. With Stereolabs software, we feel more confident to advance to the 3D TV market.
“In my own opinion, the film age has gone, it’s the digital age now.
“People here in China pay more and more attention to 3D. For example, based on all my follow-up visits, 90% of the customers enquired about 3D-related products; and according to my own observations, I think most of the Chinese products will become more and more popular, though they are still in the low-end range, like matteboxes. But some companies really do very well, with very cost effective products.
“I believe, in the coming years, Chinese products will get more and more attention. Though most of them are copycats now, I believe they’ll add more of their own designs and gradually develop on their own, and more people around the world will like and use them.”
In addition to the traditional exhibits, BIRTV next year will again hold international forums and conferences for professional visitors and end-users, providing an in-depth look China’s future market.
Report and photos by Jacques Lipkau Goyard.