The Media Production & Technology Show 2024

A view outside the Olympia Conference Centre
Queues build up outside the Olympia Conference Centre

Previously named The British Video Expo, this annual event showcases the latest innovations in video and audio production. This year’s show was hosted at the Olympia Conference Centre near Hammersmith, and I was thrilled to attend for a few hours and try out some of the exciting new tech.

Despite running over 2 full-days, the event was busy from the start with a long queue of people winding from the entrance. It’s obviously very popular with media professionals, especially as it’s free to attend. After a quick bag check, I was greeted to a huge hall of stands, with everything from cameras and microphones, to the latest in cloud-based services. As well as products, live talks are held throughout the day covering many topics. Although attendees are provided with a floor plan, I tend to meander through the space, observing what’s on offer and if something takes my eye, I go and chat with the reps. As a filmmaker, I obviously salivate over the latest camera kit and lenses (and often dream of having the budget for them) but several new pieces of technology really took my eye this year.

Virtual Production

There were many stands offering their take on the virtual TV studio. The simplest form were video walls and floors, allowing a user to stand in a space with whatever background and floor they require.

Video wall and floor
A video wall and floor

Moving up in complexity, other solutions offer green screen replacement and camera tracking. These systems remove the green background and replace it with a virtual TV studio. Because the camera movement and lens parameters are tracked, when the camera is manoeuvred, the background moves appropriately too. Beginning with a presenter standing in a small patch of green studio space, the viewer sees a huge studio space with the presenter standing within in.

Virtual Studio
The greenscreen is removed and the presenter is placed into a virtual studio

One step up from these are video volumes. These are spaces with large, curved video panels. Ultra-realistic backgrounds are displayed on these, often created with game engines like Unreal. The actors or presenters are placed into the volume and are often lit by the background panels and others out of shot. When viewed through a camera, it looks like they are in the scene depicted on the displays.  The cameras are often linked to the game engine, so when the camera moves, the background can be manipulated in real time to reflect the camera change. This technique is being used more and more in high-end film and TV, as well as education, as it provides on-location shooting without the need to leave the studio. And if you want to be on another world or inside a human cell, it can be easily arranged.

I had a long chat with several of the companies and one question I did pose was whether video volumes would eventually make green screen redundant. The answer was a resounding “No”. With volumes, because the actor and background are recorded together, if changes are needed further down the line, then it cannot be done easily. With greenscreen, one background can be swapped out with another one at a later date, making it much more flexible. As it turns out, one system kills two birds with one stone. As the recording is made, the background is quickly alternated between image and pure green. One movie with the image background is sent to one recording, and one movie with green background is sent to another recording. This way, you get the same performance, but one is complete, and the other is against green, ready to be replaced later.

Below is a video showing how volumes are being used in the movie industry…

Many universities are using video volumes for teaching and research. It does make subjects more engaging when a teacher can take buildings designed by architecture students and visualise them – walking through the building in real time. Or have dance students perform in an elaborate set, joined by say 20ft Chinese dragons flying in and out.

Here’s an example of virtual production used in the educational context…

Graphics Tablets

The big player in this field is the Japanese company Wacom, which makes highly sensitive screen tablets for creatives. But since a patent on their technology passed, other manufactures have come into the field and released their own versions. Having a large Wacom tablet myself, I was keen to try and compare. I found the ones I tried to be excellent and I was very fond of the new screen, which has a texture like paper and doesn’t reflect any light, making it a fantastic drawing surface. I was also happy to offer some suggestions for future changes, which the rep seriously took on board.

graphics tablet
A graphics tablet

3D Scanning (Photogrammetry)

These systems take lots of photos of an object from various angles and create a 3D model in the computer, which you can navigate. Some systems use 100s of cameras which take the photos all at once, so you get an object (e.g. a person) at a precise snapshot in time. Others use a single camera, and you move it around the object, taking photos as you go. An example at the show was of the latter, which created very complex and detailed models of landscapes.


This is constantly evolving and becoming more and more common in new products, particularly in video editing packages. There were several talks about the evolution of Ai in production. From a personal point of view, I do like the use of Ai to speed up mundane tasks, to help productivity and to clean-up footage and audio. I’m not so keep on Ai replacing the creative side of a role. Being creative is essentially human and one of the most enjoyable parts of the job, so I do shudder when I see fantastic works of art made instantly using Ai from a huge training model of real artist’s work. I didn’t see too much focus on Ai at this event other than for improving workflow. One exception was an impressive system for motion-tracking people without the need for location markers on the person. Their movements were mapped onto a 3D robot, which was augmented next to them.

A person is motion tracked and a robot is augmented next to them, following the same movement
A person is motion tracked and a robot is augmented next to them, following the same movement

Final Thoughts

The show from above
The show from above

After 4 hours, my brain was totally full and my arms tired, having acquired about 5kg of magazines and flyers. Technology is changing at such a rapid pace and the usual meat & potatoes of cameras and lenses are being joined by some exciting new tech, which is getting more and more powerful (and often smaller and smaller). Over the past 20 years we’ve gone from 4×3 standard definition video broadcast on bulky TVs, to widescreen HDR 4K video, streamed onto ultra-thin displays. It’s hard to imagine what we’ll have in 20 years’ time. But I’m sure we’ll see it first at the Media Production & Technology Show in 2044.

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