Content Focus

2019 wrap-up: Revelations and resolutions

We asked some of our friends about the past year and their hopes for 2020. We learned that the TV industry has a way to go before it fully joins the digital world and that collaboration is the watchword for the future

Simon Devereux, group head of learning & development at The Mill and director and founder of Access:VFX

Top achievement of the year?

How quickly the Q-VFX movement gained traction. Launching at London Pride in the summer, Q-VFX is now a global initiative. Growing our community hub has meant so much to those in the visual effects industry who identify as LGBTQ+. I’m blessed with co-chairing the network, collaborating with an incredible team of grafters who want to make some real change! 

Your most humbling moment?

The feedback received after our three-day Animation Summer School! The feedback after the event from working-class families and parents of BAME children truly cemented our work, justifying our mission of creating a more inclusive and diverse visual effects animation and games industry. 

Best thing you watched?

I adored Us, Jordan Peele’s follow up to Get Out. It had so many layers to it, breaking down the human psyche and depicting both our dark political and social climate, while being absolutely terrifying. The man is a genius!

Your battle cry for 2020?

Join the Access:VFX e-mentoring programme as a mentor!

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be?

More support and financial investment for inclusion programmes and non-profits like Access:VFX! We have the potential to create real change for everyone and build an inclusive future where we all benefit.

Markela Deverikou, guarantee vision engineer, NEP UK

Top achievement of the year? 

Being the lead guarantee engineer for Winter Love Island.

Your most humbling moment? 

When an esteemed work colleague, who I hold in high regard, complimented my work as an engineer and as a colleague.

Best thing you watched? 

The Handmaid’s Tale. Very powerful and the grading is fantastic.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

She believed she could, so she did.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

The lack of diversity.

Charles Conroy, VP of gaming, The Switch

Top achievement of the year?

Supporting ESL One at one of the biggest esports events of the year! Supporting TwitchCon in San Diego was also an exciting time for esports generally and The Switch. 

Your most humbling moment?

Being appointed by The Switch to lead its expansion into esports – it was when I realised the broadcast industry was getting behind professional gaming. It was grounding. 

Best thing you watched?

It’s between the Overwatch League Finals and ESL One Katowice. 

Your battle cry for 2020?

More esports events and pushing the envelope in broadcast! Especially with new tech such as AR/VR, I want to keep driving innovation in broadcast. 

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be?

I would definitely increase the use of remote production – both for traditional sports and esports. It really is a fantastic tool.

Nic Hatch, CEO, Ncam Technologies

Top achievement of the year? 

Launching the MK2 camera bar, fundamentally changing the possibilities available to our customers.

Your most humbling moment? 

Watching Tommy Caldwell scale the 3000ft Dawn Wall of El Capitan and risk not completing the climb, because he refuses to let his co-climber, Kevin Jorgeson, fail. Incredible feat.

Best thing you watched? 

The Dawn Wall

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Ensure Ncam becomes the go-to company for camera tracking and scene/location data collection.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

Introduce more incentives to educate young people with the latest technology and provide more opportunities for people trying to get into the industry.

Steve Reynolds, president, Imagine Communications

Top achievement of the year? 

When Imagine set our goals for 2019, the number-one priority was a focus on delivery. The results are tangible. We’ve taken several big projects from concept to full deployment in under a year, including the launch of the National Playout Center for Nine and Seven in Australia. 

Your most humbling moment? 

We work with so many brilliant business leaders and technologists that we’re constantly learning how much we don’t know. We recognise we’re just contributors to someone else’s big idea. Imagine provides solutions, but it’s our customers who are transforming their businesses.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

First, helping our customers make more money. Second, continuing to enable our customers to make content and operate those multiple platforms more efficiently and more cost-effectively. 

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry what would it be? 

The media tech industry puts too much focus on the tech as the objective, when we really should be focused on the industry. I’m already seeing a shift towards focusing on business outcomes.

Tim Shoulders, president, Grass Valley

Top achievement of the year? 

Launching the Grass Valley Technology Alliance, and achieving the highest switcher sales in the company’s history across Q1 and Q2 combined.

Your most humbling moment? 

We launched a comprehensive initiative to look at our company culture. What I found is that we do important work, bringing the world together through the magic of media. We’ve taken the first steps towards becoming a purpose-driven company.

Best thing you watched? 

The FIFA Women’s World Cup. It was exciting to see these great athletes perform on such a large stage. It’s also wonderful that women’s sports have come so far and consistently dominate the headlines with events like this.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Leading through collaboration.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

I’d like to see more collaboration between suppliers in media tech to drive the development of the business models that will help our traditional broadcast customers succeed in this new media landscape.

Steve Wind-Mozley, CMO, Vizrt

Top achievement of the year? 

Working with the team to create and deliver the philosophy of software-defined visual storytelling, which I believe will shape the future of our industry.

Your most humbling moment? 

Joining Vizrt was a pretty special and humbling moment – I get to work with some bona fide geniuses.

Best thing you watched? 

BBC Studios has delivered a rare and delicious delight in His Dark Materials.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

More stories, better told. 

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

I’m looking to change more than one, but I’ll start with encouraging a more diverse talent base to take up software engineering in our industry. The future belongs to IP-native, digitally adept, customer outcome-focused talent. I’m pretty sure at least 50% of them are going to be female.

Sabina Hemmi, CEO and co-founder, Elo Entertainment

Top achievement of the year? 

We secured a Series A investment after running a profitable, bootstrapped company for over seven years. It’s been a huge change and growing the company since then has been a huge achievement.

Your most humbling moment? 

In 2019, I got mono and it made my productivity hit a wall. It was demoralising to feel powerless, but I think it helped me to triage the most important tasks. 

Best thing you watched? 

Without a doubt The International 2019 Dota Championship tournament.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Discipline.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

Web advertising is an industry that I desperately want to see disrupted.

Rob Black, COO, ESL UK

Top achievement of the year? 

When ESL One Birmingham sold out in record time.

Your most humbling moment? 

Successfully launching the first Weavr beta product to widespread acclaim.

Best thing you watched? 

Seeing Li “VKLiooon” Xiaomeng become the first female world champion in an open field esport event.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Embrace and manage change.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

The lack of agility.  

Charlotte Wheeler, event director, Media Production & Technology Show

Top achievement of the year? 

Selling out MPTS, increasing our visitors by 35% and securing the assets of BVE.

Your most humbling moment? 

Seeing the happiness and fulfilment of my team after working so hard to deliver our show. They deserve all of the success we can give them.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

Attracting more women to the tech industry. It’s a tough call and one that won’t be changed overnight, but with the work from many organisations such as Rise, things are changing slowly. . .

Ollie Baumann, head of innovation, MediaKind

Top achievement of the year? 

Winning the NAB Technology Innovation Award for our joint project with Deutsche Telekom and partners. Being recognised with such a prestigious award was amazing! 

Your most humbling moment? 

What’s been incredibly humbling for me personally is seeing the huge development in live streaming quality and immersive experiences over the past year. I’m excited to see the potential of niche sports, especially esports, come to the fore and drive innovation across our industry. 

Best thing you watched? 

Egan Bernal win the Tour de France!

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Adapt and innovate! 

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

I would definitely like to see Multicast ABR enable low latency.

Scott Davies, CEO, Never.no

Top achievement of the year? 

The implementation of our cloud-based graphics rendering, Real-Time Graphics. We were excited when Viacom saw the potential and used it for its world premiere of Madonna’s Medellín video.

Your most humbling moment? 

My family life is challenged by the dreaded ‘C’ word. It keeps you grounded when you see the people you love going through harsh treatments on a regular basis. It was both a proud and humbling moment that Never.no was involved with Breast Cancer Now’s Wear it Pink campaign. 

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

The attitude to new tools needs to change – especially for new engagement concepts and strategies. We’re still seeing senior industry peers pushing back on technology that enhances audience engagement, because they don’t understand the technology or are happy with the status quo.

Dr Neale Foster, CEO, Access Europe

Top achievement of the year? 

Access’ acquisition of NetRange MMH GmbH and the announcement of its partnership with Viacom. 

Your most humbling moment? 

Visiting Shenzhen in China and seeing the scale of modernisation and social improvements of public transport. It was impressive to see the number of electric vehicles and the positive environmental impact they’re having on the city. 

Best thing you watched? 

Even though this was released in 2018, it has to be Westworld 2. I liked watching the robot story being told from a different perspective and it made me question: will a robot ever have the rights of a human? It was fascinating to see compassion and soul put into robots and I’m already looking forward to Westworld 3.

Your battle cry for 2020? 

Access will play a key part in enabling new exciting experiences for car users and new revenue opportunities for OEMs and other third parties as we enter a new world of connected experiences on the go.

If you could change one thing in the media tech industry, what would it be? 

The industry is evolving rapidly, and the big issues are the increasing need to protect data, especially personal data, and the dominance of certain tech platforms.

This article originally appeared in the December 2019 issue of FEED magazine.

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