It’s BVE Jim, but not as we know it

Well, on a strictly binary “was I right or was I wrong?” I clearly got it wrong. But walking around the show this year as a BVE veteran, one could be forgiven for thinking you’d walked in to the wrong hall. 

For me, the show has always been about broadcast and production kit. Cameras, lenses, tripods, video and audio switchers, lights, with the added bonus of excellent seminar speakers drawing big crowds. I remember when I was managing the sales team of one of the leading resellers, we had a huge stand, complete with OB truck in the hall. It was a blessed relief when the big name speakers like Louis Theroux or Richard Ayoade were speaking on stage as we got a bit of a break from the hoards of keen clients, wanting to learn about the latest camera and lens technology. And we actually made it pay, despite it being the most eye-wateringly expensive real estate in London for those 3 days.  

The demand for knowledge was overwhelming, and the camera shoot-out areas where we had the latest Sony, Canon, Panasonic, JVC and RED cameras side by side were always the most densely populated areas of the show floor, at least until mid-afternoon when the thirst for knowledge was overtaken by a thirst for beer. 

Fast forward just 3 or 4 years and the show floor was more remarkable for the manufacturers who weren’t there, than for those who were. In much the same way as many Soho post production people navigate their way around Soho not by the street names but by the pubs (left at the Crown, then right at the Ship), I always navigated BVE by where the stalwarts had their stands. Turn right at Arri, and then left at Fujinon. 

This becomes somewhat disorienting when neither Arri nor Fujinon were there. But for that matter neither were Canon, or RED, or Sony, Grass Valley, SAM, Vitec, Black Magic, Panasonic, Cooke, Zeiss or Ross Video (although Ross did sponsor the bar if that counts). And if they weren’t there, then the attendees would surely have expected the authorised resellers of these manufacturers to be present? Again, not a single camera or lens reseller had taken floor space, and of the numerous post-production resellers around, only Tyrell were exhibiting this year. 

Of the marquee names, only JVC were there this year, and they seemed quite happy with how the show went for them. But they, along with the rest of the manufacturers and resellers, now have a big decision to make, given the significant date changes for next year’s UK Trade Show calendar. 

The ITE Group, (which owns BVE along with many other trade shows in other sectors), have decided to move BVE to June, a month after the Media Production Show (MPS) which has already announced its new date of mid-May. I don’t believe that any organisation will invest in 2 London trade shows within a month of one another when they draw such similar audiences. And who would attend two London shows so close together anyway?  It makes little commercial sense for there to be two “generalist” UK Broadcast trade shows anyway, given the success of the niche BSC show in January and the smaller, TVBAY-backed regional shows, in amongst the global juggernauts NAB and IBC in April and September. 

I gather that MPS already has a range of manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic, Sennheiser and Fuji already committed to attending, and the resellers ProAV, Jigsaw and Digital Garage are also signed up. MPS is also in Olympia, which is a big plus for many, given the time it takes to get to the Excel. Crossrail should have been up and running by now, which would have cut the 45 minute journey time from Soho to 16 minutes. But it’s not.

So decision time is looming, and I just can’t see both shows going ahead.

Trying to find some positives from this year’s BVE Show itself, I did manage to meet up with a couple of friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, and networking will always remain in most people’s top 3 reasons for attending any Show. 

In terms of new kit, I’d not seen the new SimplyLive slo-mo device which looked clever, and will compete head-on with the Newtek 3Play equivalent. And their larger unit will compete with EVS in the 4K HDR sports environment where BTSport and SKY call the shots.  And for the seminars, the only one I saw was from the Mission Digital guys who really know their subject, so the ACES talk from their colourist Pablo was thorough and well-presented as you’d expect.  What were the other seminars like?  

And it was certainly warmer than last year, which was welcome.

A good friend of mine was filming some interviews on various stands, and he told me that he’d had numerous people approach him asking about his camera, and where they might get some advice on the show floor on camera choices. But there was not a single camera reseller exhibiting that he could direct them to. It seems the demand for knowledge was present, but answers were in short supply. Something is broken. 

It’s so far removed from the show that I once looked forward to, and have been attending for so long now. But maybe it’s just evolving and I’ve got it wrong?  Perhaps I need to remove my rose-tinted glasses?

Last year my prediction was clearly wrong. But maybe I was only out by a year.  

If you were there either as an exhibitor or an attendee, what do you think? Did it work for you?