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Roundtable: Hello 2024

What's in store for AV this year?

A new year means new installations, live event projects and product releases. Our panel of AV experts reflect on its impact in 2023 and predict what this year holds for the industry

The Panel

Kevin Salvidge, Sales engineering and technical marketing manager, Leader/Phabrix

Kari Eythorsson, Product manager, Clear-Com

Jassim NP, Vice president of regional sales, Unilumin

Hosted by Verity Butler

Verity Butler: Can you introduce yourself and how you got into AV?

Kevin Salvidge: I have been involved in AV now for nearly 30 years, starting in in-flight entertainment. Passengers would watch films on the overhead projector and ceiling-mounted CRT displays, while audio was supplied by a pneumatic audio system. I now work for Phabrix, which is renowned for making highly reliable and flexible test and measurement instruments for rapid fault diagnosis, compliance monitoring and product development.

Jassim NP: Initial involvement in the AV industry started with my last job at a system integration company. That journey led me to join Unilumin. From being an integrator dealing with multiple products to representing a large LED solution provider, I am well aware of how multiple products and solutions can be matched to achieve the best possible audio-visual results.

Kari Eythorsson: I am a product manager for Clear-Com, which is a maker of intercom systems for various applications and markets – including live performance, broadcasting, corporate communications, military and more. Our systems enable users to perform their work more effectively, which is something I appreciate as I started in AV as an end user of Clear-Com products working in live concerts and theatre. From there, I progressed to system design, distribution, system integration and sales. AV is an interesting business filled with unique challenges.

Verity Butler: Are there any key trends you can see filtering through from 2023 into 2024?

Jassim NP: One core trend that is going to have a bigger impact in 2024 is seamless connectivity or integration between different devices and their UX. Last year saw big changes in this regard – and it will become more relevant in the coming years. This also plays a very important role in unifying solutions providers’ roles – from multiple vendors offering products that may or may not operate in sync, to a stage where a single solutions provider delivers one unified solution made by multiple different manufacturers, but designed to work from a single interface.

Kevin Salvidge: The growth in deployment of large LED walls in virtual production and entertainment venues is worth noting as a future trend for 2024. The virtual production process enhances creative control and reduces the need for extensive post-production work. It also significantly reduces production costs, as a large number of operators and equipment do not need to be shipped to remote production locations. This has been successfully used in several high-profile projects. 

The introduction of media over IP (MoIP) is another thing accelerating the deployment of large LED walls. IP networks significantly simplify installations of extended UHD-TV-resolution content. In a traditional SDI video world, this would have required multiple cables to a single display panel. Entertainment venues are continually trying to create that wow factor. With new, next-level venues now utilising MoIP, customers are being exposed to a massive step up in AV entertainment experiences.

"2023 brought our industry back to a more normal cadence – and that feels very much like a success

Verity Butler: What role will AI continue to play in the AV space going into 2024?

Kari Eythorsson: We continuously strive to streamline user interactions with our products for a better user experience. Collectively, Clear-Com’s employees have vast knowledge of the workflows relevant to various markets through real-world field experience. We can certainly now see the potential for AI to boost this knowledge for an even deeper understanding of what the customer needs and how they interact with our systems. From there, we can see how the technology can develop to actively assist our users in the background.

Kevin Salvidge: As with all new technologies, production techniques evolve and benefit from continued innovation. Creating the backdrops for these large LED walls can be challenging and labour-intensive, so AI will allow amazing images to be created and displayed in a fraction of the time it currently takes to create them.

Jassim NP: AI is already heavily utilised in various sectors and is rapidly evolving. Going forward, it will have a significant impact on the way things are done, especially when you consider its capabilities to learn and analyse feeds and input patterns in the AV industry. The true impact will be when releasing new equipment by manufacturers that is infused with AI into the wider market after the testing phase.

Verity Butler: Do you have a favourite project from 2023, and is there anything exciting coming up in 2024 for you?

Kevin Salvidge: Unfortunately, due to the sensitivity of the advanced technologies used in the projects we work on, we cannot identify individual projects. Needless to say, if you are visiting the cinema in 2024, you’ll be watching a film that, at some point, has used virtual production.

Leader/Phabrix products will have been instrumental in ensuring the finished product is delivered to the consumers successfully. We are also seeing more major sporting events and venues wanting to display video to complement the live action, and we expect demand to increase in 2024 – with a number of major sporting events taking place.

Jassim NP: Unilumin has a couple of projects that stand out due to their creative as well as complex nature in sports, XR, commercial industries and so on. We cooperate with a variety of industry leaders to deliver the best-fit results. Such as Riyadh Season, FIBA World Cup 2023, Goal Line Studios and Galaxy Macau. This year is going to be very exciting, as the industry has been innovating and pushing the boundaries. In terms of cutting-edge technology, you will see Unilumin’s latest innovations in MIP and COB products.

Kari Eythorsson: It seems obvious, but reflecting on 2023 brought our industry back to a more normal cadence and that feels very much like a successful project. I feel that everyone deserves recognition for the resiliency demonstrated over the last three years.

Challenges can also bring out-of-box thinking and allow that which may either be momentary or permanent, while having the potential to leave some good tools in the toolbox for the future.

Clear-Com embraced this, as can be seen in Eclipse matrix systems features. We can provide more agility to the physical location of a user with our role-based feature, which enables the user to log in to their configurations wherever they are on a system.

This year will be an exciting one for Clear-Com as we continue to offer simple and easy-to-use solutions with the ability to generate intercom systems on a brand-new platform, wherever you go.

Verity Butler: What can AV businesses do to meet their sustainability goals during 2024?

Jassim NP: I know for a fact that Unilumin has adopted the sustainable approach. Back in early 2023, Unilumin became the first brand to gain TÜV SÜD LED display carbon label certification in the industry internationally, devoted to transparency in carbon emissions for products. We will continue to roll out new products in line with this trend, which is an ongoing process.

On a broader scale, manufacturers need to base their plans on the design stage, starting with R&D. It can only be effective and sustainable when the thought process has gone into the development of a product.

Kevin Salvidge: Virtual production is already making huge steps in reducing the amount of equipment and personnel that are flying around the world to create high-end TV and cinema productions, thus reducing the industry’s overall carbon footprint. As the technology becomes ever-more affordable, this will only see a growth in virtual production and the continued reduction of our carbon footprint.

This roundtable was first published in the Spring 2024 issue of LIVE.


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