Season 1
Episode 4
26 Oct, 2023

Perifery at IBC: Leveling up with JB&A

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Episode Description

We launched a special show podcast to capture the insights and perspectives from several media industry leaders at IBC 2023.  

In this episode, Courtney Kehl, sits down with the VP of Technology at JB&A, Nick Smith. Describing JB&A’s business activities, Nick said “We’re a distributer network. So, we take other people's technology and then build them a resale channel.”  

With nine IBC shows under his belt, Courtney asked whether Nick has seen many changes since his first visit. He pointed out the obvious differences in booth placements and sizes, and the emergence of newer vendors showcasing. Calling out the growth of XR virtual production, he said “the virtual production world has kind of blown up the last couple years since the pandemic. So, we're seeing vendors that would have been on tiny little booths…now they're on massive booths with cranes and LED walls in them. It's fun to kind of see these companies explode.” 

He also observed how the IBC landscape has diversified over the years. While sat at the Perifery booth in Hall 7, he said, “when I look around the room, this used to be all storage vendors and some workflow tools. [Now] it's got computer manufacturers and LED walls.” 

Stating that it was her first time at the show, Courtney admitted to seeing everything as “a shiny object”, and Nick agreed with the statement, “Every show is still a shiny object to me because it's just like, all right, what can I find this time? I love exploring these shows.” 

When asked about new innovations, Nick shared that he was anticipating more AI presence at the event. He expected more AI integrations and more AI startups. The relatively modest representation of AI at IBC 2023 could suggest that that the adoption of AI into the media tech industry in still in its infancy. And Courtney agreed, saying, “Maybe people just aren't quite ready to fully adopt it, or they just don't know what to do with it, or perhaps we're all just exploring and experimenting more.” 

The pair both agreed that although the hesitation to fully embrace AI might stem from uncertainty about how to implement it, there is an exciting future ahead for its potential.  

With more than 43,000 visitors at the 2023 event (up 16% from 2022), Courtney asked Nick his opinion of attendee numbers. While applauding the large number, Nick also recognized that many people still aren’t traveling. He did, however, agree when Courtney pointed out the popularity of the Perifery booth, “You are the hottest product on earth right now.” And who are we to argue?! 

Wrapping up the conversation, Courtney asked what’s coming up for JB&A. Nick replied, “We've got a lot of new things happening”. He mentioned the company’s 2020 merger and its recent joining of the audio production group, JAM. Discussing JAM, he said, “They have a lot of great manufacturers, so it's giving us the opportunity to blend all the great video things that we've been doing for years, the storage, the asset management, with a company that's really strong in audio.” 

Nick also shared that JB&A is expanding its warehouse operations to a central location – a move which will enhance the company’s capacity to serve software customers effectively. Courtney summed up, “when you get the right people in the right place, magic happens.” 

Courtney: Well, alrighty. We're here at IBC 2023. Very excited to have Nick with us from JB&A, and wanna have you say hello to the folks, and what you do.

Nick: Hello world. No, I'm the VP of Technology for JB&A. We're a distributer network, so we take other people's technology and then build them a resale channel. Systems, integrators, bars. We get the progress being there.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So, as you're going through IBC and you're seeing what other folks are doing and people like yourself are getting the products out there and what not, are you seeing any changes? You've been coming to IBC for nine years.

Nick: Nope. Honestly, there's not a lot, I mean, always people move their booths around a little bit. Sometimes they get bigger, sometimes they get smaller. Definitely seeing some newer vendors here that used to be little tiny ones and now they're gigantic ones. I mean, especially in the space of XR virtual production. You know, the virtual production world's kind of blown up the last couple years since the pandemic, so we're seeing vendors that would have been tiny little booths. Like, hey, check out my widget. Now they're like massive booths with cranes and LED balls in them. It's fun to kind of see these companies explode. And then there's other companies, when I look around the room, but here this used to be all storage vendors and some workflow tools. It's got computer manufacturers and LED walls. And so we're just, I think it's just people are moving around and trying the show maybe for the first time.

Courtney: Yeah, well it's my first show. So yeah, so we've got a veteran that's been here many times over and knows the space inside and out. And then for me, everything's a shiny object.

Nick: Oh, that's good. It's definitely been exciting throughout every day. Every show is still a shiny object to me because it's just like, all right, what can I find this time? I love exploring these shows.

Courtney: Are you seeing any new innovations, anybody kind of breaking out?

Nick: You know, I thought, and I had this, even back all the way to NAB, I thought I would see more AI. I was really expecting to see, you know, with chat, GPT, and all the language learning models, I expected to see more integrations, more companies, more AI. I mean, we had this joke for years at NAB that you would. the same banner from here, but at one point it said HD and then they moved it to 3D and then they scratched it out into a 4K, you know, and it was like it was the same banner they would just change two letters on it every year, and I expected that to be scratched out and say AI.

And it's kind of, it's not that it's not here, it's not as big as I thought it was going to be more startups that are, hey, we're just an AI company coming into the market space, right? So I think maybe we're still a little bit away from all these language models that are being built up and that everybody sees them as homework killers, you know, my next best friend for writing a script, but I expected to see more of them in the grand period. Which is, yeah, it's coming.

Courtney: I would agree. It's AI, it's a part of pretty much every single day, whether we know it or not. It's part of the conversations that come across my desk. I would agree with you. I was expecting to see a little bit more leaning in across every company that you walk by. Maybe people just aren't quite ready to fully adopt it or they just don't know what to do with it or perhaps you know we're kind of all exploring and experimenting more.

Nick: Yeah, I think so. I think the traditional AI that you know, they aren't new. AI has been different. years. We saw it do transcription and then we started to see it do image recognition. So it was like Veritone, which we're doing AI aggregation cloud. It's like you want to use a little Lamsome, a little Google, a little Watson. We have it all in our banner. And you can use it all here. But most of those were the one trained modules that just did one thing. I find the Pepsi logo wherever it is, I can see this person's face and recognize that person's face. They weren't intuitive enough to teach themselves. where we see some of the new LLMs, some of the ChatTube teams and those, they sort of like, hey, let me scour the internet and I'll teach myself what I need to know.

Courtney: Right, right, filling the gaps.

Nick: That's the piece I think that everybody's still a little hesitant. Sure. And I'm not seeing that LLM in the browser yet. It's still just traditional machine learning. Of course, they're here, it's sort of everywhere. Yeah. But not to the level that I think it can be.

Courtney: Yeah, I think as it comes forward, the use cases really make that a little bit more comfortable.

Nick: There's that fear still of it's gonna take my job away. And I think it is going to take some jobs. I mean, if I look at entry-level logging in a TV station, somebody has to go through every piece of footage and tag it. This was Nick interviewing Courtney. This was Bob calling up a log. Somebody had to pick that information. I think that's the first job that goes away. Because now a machine can look at it and say, well, I know who those two people are and I know they have headphones on, so they must be doing an interview done.

Courtney: Sure. I would argue that it's not necessarily away jobs but it's kind of restructuring what a human does versus you know where their bandwidth goes and where their resources are.

Nick: Totally agreed, however, for the last 50 years in life, everybody's first job was I'm a logger at a TV station and eventually I get to be an editor. So now what's that entry-level job going to be for them other than speaking for us?

Courtney: It will change, absolutely, 100%.

Nick: No, and it's the same thing for transcription, right? It's been done by humans, perhaps, and now it's being done by computers. So there are issues, I think there are entry level positions that are going to disappear. People have to find another way to break into the issue.

Courtney: Right, right. No, well said. Yeah, absolutely. I think it's all very exciting. We'll just kind of see where it goes. And it seems to be changing every single week, every single month. So who knows, when I have to see 2024, maybe we'll see more of it. We'll have a little bit more adoption in the world of AI and other areas as well.

Nick: I agree. You too. Cool. car production, using it to generate content, using it to generate scripts, even if it's just the first draft to get the story started and things like that. So it's a lot of sort of a kick start to many projects. Which I think is a great use for it.

Courtney: Yeah. So with the, just shifting gears a little bit, you see the audience, you see the crowd year over year. This year, I think there's about 40,000 attendees. Last year it sounded like 37. Are you seeing growth in the interest in the audience size? Or what have you seen at this year? Nick: I think she's got a lot of audience. Okay. NAB felt the same way. You know, over the last couple of times, I don't think the crowds have fully come back. And I think some of that is true to certain countries as well. When I look at NAB the last time around. Some of them haven't been able to travel yet. Sure. So I think it's still building back. Okay, that's fair. But it's definitely picking up speed.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I will say for Perifery, there's been non-stop traffic and a constant flow of people and noise.

Nick: You are the hottest product on Earth right now. You did win awards in NAB, so those people have to come over and see that award.

Courtney: Sure. Nice work. I'll take it, I'll take it. Okay, that's great. All right, well as we're wrapping up, just anything that JB&A specifically, you guys got coming around the corner, We're working closely with you, we're excited about our partnership and everything that we've got coming around for 2024, or sorry, the end of 2023, but specifically more next year.

Nick: We've got a lot of new things happening, I think. So we went through a merger back in 2020 and we've been sort of moving around the company the last couple years, but we've landed in a really good spot. inside of a group called Jam. Jam is very audio production centric. They have a lot of great manufacturers, so it's giving us the opportunity to sort of blend all the great video things that we've been doing for years, the storage, the asset management, with a company that's really strong in audio. And kind of blend those two companies together to give our customers some even better resources. And more access. Plus we're moving our warehouse to the center of the country for a twice small version. We have a production facility there where we're going to be building servers, outfitting our customers, which are software customers, and building the hardware to push their product out. So it's giving our dealers a partner that they can do with.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I was excited to hear yesterday you were talking about the injection that you're getting from the parent company, really just focusing on your creative.

Nick: It's one of those things that when you get merged, when you get sort of acquired, it's like, hey, cool, what are you going to do? what happens now. And it took a couple years, but now it's finally like, OK, guys, here's these resources. Right. Here's this new warehouse. Here's this new production. Here's these things.

Courtney: Right, really leveling up.

Nick: Yes. And I think it took three years, but we're there now. And we're getting the tools we need to grow. So it's more different than the other teams. Everybody sort of gets to take the fun that's going on.

Courtney: Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely. It's exciting to see what's coming around the corner. It's also exciting to have our teams working together, because I know when you get the right people in the right place, magic happens.

Nick: Absolutely.

Courtney: Well, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Of course. I always love talking shop and around the industry as well. I think I said it's a new one for me. So it's all been quite the experience. Thanks for being a part of it.

Nick: It is a great show to be at.

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