Signiant is excited to welcome Jens Fischer as our new territory sales manager focusing on DACH, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. With a wealth of knowledge about the M&E industry, and a special fascination with Esports, Jens brings a unique and dynamic perspective to the Signiant team.
This week we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jens about what led him to Signiant, what he sees as the future of the industry, and why remote production is going to reign in 2020!
Check out our conversation below!
Tell us a bit about your background in media?
Well, I took my first steps into the field of media even before I attended university. I worked for a small production company where you had to do everything on your own. Camera operation, editing, DVD authoring, lightning. It was during that time that I fell in love with audiovisual media, especially with video codecs. For me, it felt like a logical step to grow in this area. But even back then, I was already more fascinated by video, rather than audio.
During my time studying at Hoschschule der Medien Stuttgart, I was highly focused on TV production, especially s3D TV. And I graduated with a world premiere: the first s3D HD TV Show distributed by satellite across Europe. In parallel I enjoyed working as a 35mm projectionist. At this time, in addition to my courses, I’d already worked for SWR and gained experience in OB (Outside Broadcasting) Production.
Later, I moved to Mainz to study at the Hoschschule RheinMain. At this time, I was focused on next-generation HD formats like 1080p50 and video codecs like HEVC. For my master’s thesis I moved to Geneva to build the first live end-to-end 1080p signal chain during IBC 2011.
Most recently I worked at EVS, where I was focused on live TV production workflows with customers in the DACH region like Bundesliga, Cologne Broadcasting Center, WDR or ORF. In parallel I had the pleasure of taking care of the global Esports market. I’ve worked with publishers, production companies, streaming platforms and TV stations with the goal of improving Esports production workflows around the world and finding new revenue streams for my customers in this highly dynamic market.
What do you enjoy most about working in the media industry?
There is no status quo in our industry. The whole market is moving all the time. It doesn’t matter if we look to the technical aspects (e.g.: resolution, color range, frame rates), or workflows (centralized productions), or the business part (global consolidation of big players). The time of “one standard” is gone. We have to adapt over and over again. It’s never boring for sure.
Why did you decide to join Signiant?
Over the last five years, the global availability of bandwidth changed dramatically. MRLs (Media Rights Licensees) request more and more content in less time without needing to be at a venue. Centralized production is already part of our production landscape, and international media companies don’t stop at borders anymore. Because of all of these things, you need a fast, reliable and secure means to transport content and collaborate more easily. Signiant meets that need perfectly.
Is there a specific sub vertical or element of the industry that you find particularly exciting?
Sure. And that’s not even a secret! Esports pushed the boundaries of TV production over the last few years, and I still get goosebumps when I’m standing in the “Cathedral of Counter-Strike” once a year. Esports is such an exciting field! I could talk for hours about why OWL (Overwatch League) production is so amazing or how ESL increases the production quality year over year.
You have a great deal of knowledge around Esports. How do you think traditional media companies will respond to take advantage of the phenomenon?
Well, that’s happening already. Both sides are learning from each other. Esports is gaining knowledge about media rights packaging and the traditional sports world is learning more about fan engagement and social media workflows. For me, Esports isn’t a phenomenon. Esports has existed for ten years, already. In my honest opinion, traditional sports have to pay attention because they are already missing the next generation of fans. The average fan is getting older and brands need to find new ways to interact with the younger generation.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing media companies today?
Globalization. Ten years ago, I could easily survive by operating a mid-size OB company or TV studio, as borders still protected my business. Additionally, bandwidth wasn’t that fast. These days, you have to open your business and understand remote production, centralized archiving, global operating leagues, new demands from MRLs. Technology is creating new opportunities all the time and you have to adapt over and over again. Customers expect content everywhere for lower costs, and production houses are facing more competition than ever before.
Well, that was quite pessimistic, wasn’t it?
The good news is, thanks to cloud technology we can consolidate more and more production steps. In the past you had to buy one GFx-engine per distribution channel. Today you can add your on-air GFX via HTML GFx on AWS. Or you can use AI to create automated highlight reels. Same for live logging or content contribution. Just a few years ago, you needed an SNG (Satellite News Gathering) plus a transponder to connect your reporter with the studio. Today, a normal smartphone hotspot is good enough.
Give us a prediction – what change do you see coming in media in 2020?
I would say that centralized production at home will become much more common. It doesn’t matter if we look to the upcoming big events or mid-size to small leagues. Production costs versus production quality is an important topic. Thanks to affordable fiber links around the world, it’s easier to use local editing suites back at headquarters than to send everyone to live event sites. And the best thing is your employees don’t have to travel for weeks and can stay at home with their kids and friends!