Probably the big story of the year in the broadcast and media industry has not been about technology, but the sudden rush of mergers and acquisitions around the time of NAB. If you believed the talk then you would be convinced that bigger was better – and that IBC would have only a handful of exhibitors in a year or two’s time.
I do not believe that to be the case. My own company, Pixel Power, was established in 1987 as a specialist business, starting in graphics and expanding into related areas like branding and playout. Today, 27 years on, we remain independent, and what business analysts would describe as an SME: a small to medium-sized enterprise.
I am delighted about this state of affairs. Our aim today has not changed since my business partner and I started Pixel Power. Our over-arching goal is to be able to stay close to our customers, so there is as short a line as possible between the real requirements of a changing broadcast business and the developers and product managers who can translate these needs into real solutions. We have to be flexible enough to be able to respond to what those customers are saying.
I am not criticising any of the mega-companies in our industry, and I am certainly watching the latest crop of acquisitions with interest. But I know we can do what they cannot, which is develop a solution quickly, accurately and cost-effectively. That way, we help our customers be better broadcasters, and save money.
Here is one example. Broadcasters around the world told us they needed good branding, but they needed to do it smarter. Tying up edit suites to generate the many versions of a trailer, for example, is a very bad use of resources. If only there was a smart way of creating and delivering a marketing campaign, they said.
So we came up with the idea of Pixel Factory, which is a new application running on our standard graphics engine. You give it an address for the video resources, a soundtrack and a work order, and it will automatically generate all the versions of a trailer you will need, to a standardised template which secures your branding.
In a similar vein, for a number of years now we have offered a solution that automatically manages programme junctions. It looks at the automation playlist and generates menus and rundowns, and selects – or builds – appropriate promos. Give it some rules and it will select which programmes are appropriate to promote, based on what is around the junction.
What a company the size of Pixel Power can bring is, first, the ability to react to this sort of requirement – which is not obvious until you talk in detail to broadcasters – and second the ability to tailor the product so it can be installed and then relied on. That is what a company the size of Pixel Power brings to the industry: responsiveness based on real understanding. As far as I am concerned, small to medium-sized can be very beautiful, too.