ISE: The integration event from an event professional’s perspective

ISE has traditionally been perceived as an event for companies involved in buying and selling cutting-edge AV equipment. However, in recent years, the event has expanded to also appeal to end users – including event organisers looking to keep up with the latest developments in AV technology. In this blog, Anna Valley’s director of business development, Dan Orchard, explores ISE from the perspective of an event professional.

ISE is one of the biggest events in the AV integration calendar, bringing together industry professionals from across the world. And the exhibition is only getting bigger, after outgrowing Amsterdam’s RAI the event attracted 43,691 visitors and 834 exhibitors to Fira Barcelona in 2022. But the move across Europe isn’t the only thing that has changed at ISE. Traditionally, the exhibition has hosted AV manufactures showcasing their new products and systems integrators looking for the latest tech solutions. However, in recent years, the show has started incorporating more tech with event applications and targeting end users looking for inspiration for projects as opposed to permanent installations.

From exciting developments in LED to innovative audio collaborations and brochure-delivering-robots, ISE had it all in 2022. Here are my key takeaways about the tech I saw at the exhibition and how it could impact the events industry in the year to come.

A drive to reduce pixel pitch

One trend I picked up on, which I’m sure won’t come as a surprise, is the continual drive to reduce pixel pitch, with LED manufacturers constantly striving for higher and higher resolution. In fact, Unilumin predicted that most of their manufacturing will be products below a 2-millimetre pitch within the next two years.

The technology is certainly out there, with fine pitches like 1.5 millimetres becoming more common and incredible tech with pixel pitches as low as 0.6 millimetres already available. We’re even seeing higher resolution LED being introduced to the outdoor market – an area that, in the past, has had to sacrifice resolution for robustness.

If we’re seeing higher and higher resolution screens everywhere, how does this drive for ‘everything under 2mm’ impact the rental market? There are a couple of things to consider. In terms of rental, I’d argue that the technology is just not there yet. Finer pixel pitched LEDs are much more fragile by design – with diodes less than a millimetre apart, there’s no space for handling these panels which makes them much more likely to be damaged and more expensive to maintain. This also means that more stringent and time-consuming quality control processes would be required each time the equipment is checked into or out of a rental facility, which would affect hire costs. Another consideration is that the majority of live events don’t require a pixel pitch that fine. In the typical event scenario, where large-scale displays are viewed by audiences several meters away, a 3.9-millimetre pixel pitch provides a high-resolution viewing experience – equivalent to a smaller screen with a finer pixel pitch in a retail or corporate installation.

Virtual production

Another topic which dominated most of the well-known LED manufacturer’s stands at ISE was virtual production. This was a prime example of the rental market making a mark on the event, with minimal application for virtual production in an integration space (outside of the odd production studio.)

An interesting processing application came from Brompton, who demonstrated frame remapping where a single LED screen is filmed with multiple cameras locked to different frame rates. This allows production teams to use the same screen to show different content to different territories or to create different angles of a virtual production environment to match multiple camera positions. In addition to being of interest to our broadcast team at Anna Valley, this could also potentially be used for virtual events where content needs to be localised for international audiences.

Brompton have also made significant advances in the calibration process. Currently, calibrating an LED screen can take a number of days and needs to be done in a completely dark room. However, Brompton’s new Hydra system requires minimal set-up and is poised to reduce calibration time to hours rather than days. In a virtual production environment, large volume screens often need to be fully calibrated ahead of shooting – often to the weakest pixel. Using the Hydra system, you are instead given an optimum performance within the range of all the pixels at the same time, losing much less dynamic range. It will be interesting to see how this can be utilised across the industry and for in-camera techniques in virtual production.

Immersive audio

There was a definite break away from standard event stereo systems, and more exploration into the world of immersive audio at this year’s show. This is something that Anna Valley’s audio team have been pioneering and it was encouraging to see leading brands in immersive audio pursuing collaborations with prominent video brands. This is a vital step as – certainly for us at Anna Valley – it’s not just about video or audio in isolation, but rather about creating a holistic experience that ties all the senses in. This will definitely have a positive impact on immersive events and was encouraging to see.

People-tracking software

Several people-tracking software solutions were also shown at ISE. Using relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf cameras, these systems can be used to track people’s interaction with digital signage, providing useful data for advertisers like how many people walked past the display, what content they engaged with and for how long. Although it doesn’t currently have vast rental applications, it is certainly interesting to consider this tech from the perspective of large event venues that could use it to track the number of people entering their venue, the areas that they visit and how they interact with content displayed in the venue – and to share this data with exhibition organisers and sponsors. It will also be interesting to see whether this tech can be developed and used in more ad-hoc live event scenarios.

ISE: Something for everyone?

As a supplier of both AV rental services and fixed installations to the broadcast entertainment and live event industries, Anna Valley has regularly visited ISE to catch up with suppliers and keep up to date with the latest product developments. Whilst the show is still best suited to companies looking to buy or sell AV technology, there definitely seemed to be more tech for the event market on show than ever before this year– although this was probably aimed more at rental suppliers like us rather than event agencies. Either way, we’re looking forward to visiting again in 2023.

Get in touch to find out more about any of the topics outlined here or to discuss your next AV project.