The regular Screen Africa Talent and Technology conference was held at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg on 23 July 2009, running again during the three day Mediatech Africa Expo. The conference covered two key topics, namely �Are you ready for 2010 and Beyond� and �Low Budget Production - does the answer lie here?�

�The conference was extremely well attended,� says Event Manager, Ellen Oosthuizen. �There were approximately 150 delegates, up on the last conference held two years ago. We have also had some great feedback on the topics and the speakers, which augers well for future conferences of this nature.�

The conference kicked off with a welcome and introduction by Lynn Mansfield, Chairman of SABIDA and Strategic Advisor to the SABC Group CEO and Chair of the NAB Technical Committee. Thereafter, the keynote address by Richard Waghorn, CTO SABC Technology, focused on assessing the opportunity for DVB-T2 in South Africa.

The morning conference session largely explored 2010 and technology-related initiatives. Representatives from Digital Dzonga, the principle broadcasters as well as suppliers in the set box sector, all agreed that progress is being made in terms of the roll out of digital terrestrial television (DTT), with presentations covering the outcomes of trials underway. The panel re-iterated that full migration is on track for the first half of next year.

In the 2010 panel discussion, David Swannack of Siemens revealed that a specially commissioned report by the SABC to research the public broadcaster�s readiness for 2010 indicated that the SABC was on track, except for a few areas which still required dedicated attention. Peter Kwele, head of SABC 2010, also reiterated the commitment of the SABC to create 67 public viewing areas for 2010.

After a refreshment break, there was a discussion on �Africa - Ready To Do Business� with an overview by Peter Bretherick of Telemedia. The panel consisted of Dr Melanie Chait of Big Fish, Melanie Gobb of GlobeCast and Marius van Straaten of Visual Impact. The panel presented mostly from a South African perspective in terms of doing business in Africa with panelists noting that there were still some notable challenges in doing business across the continent. Dr. Chait noted that despite these challenges, there has been well documented growth in media markets across Africa.

The afternoon session looked largely at low budget filmmaking and is reported on elsewhere in this edition of In Focus.

Event organiser Angela van Schalkwyk, Publisher/ Editor-in-Chief of Screen Africa, concluded. �The Screen Africa Talent & Technology Conference drew an excellent response from delegates. We were asked to run the conference annually (it is presently run alongside the Mediatech Africa trade show every second year) and the consensus was that the information from the conference was pertinent and useful. As DOP Tai Krige said it was real value for money as he got so much information from the conference. We had 27 panellists participating from both the broadcast and content development sectors. The profile of delegates was drawn from broadcasters, new media developers, production companies, industry organisations, academics and government organisations. All in all, I would call the conference a great success.�