The Digital Media World Exhibition, which closed yesterday, was "unfocused" according to many attendees, but "interesting" according to others.
The event aimed to exhibit all elements of moving-image creativity from film, video, games, special effects and post-production, through to multimedia content and Internet-content creation.
Built as a showcase for the latest technologies in these sectors, the show ran at Olympia 2 between November 14-16. Exhibitors included Apple, Macromedia, Sony, Newtek, Iomega, Avid, Obtree, Alias|Wavefront and Computers Unlimited.
Platform issues Apple representatives, who asked not to be named, said: "It's been a focused show, we've met some corporate customers. They aren't concerned about which platform they use, but want it to be the best for their business."
Apple ran seminars and training sessions at the show. The company claimed: "The training area was jam-packed all day. The presentations were packed for our QuickTime 5, Mac OS X, Final Cut Pro and iMovie2 demonstrations." At first, visitors were unsure of OS X, but they then became excited by the new OS, the reps concluded.
Apple's reps also seemed excited at the growth prospects for this creative market. One observed: "Most of the people I've spoken to have been looking into moving to video."
Good show Macromedia spokeswoman Sarah Mowatt said: "It's been a good show for us, we've had a lot of feedback from people, though London's transport chaos has impacted on attendance here.
"The impact of convergence in digital media is affecting the way people are looking at the industry. We split our show between Flash 5 and Dreamweaver. We have treated the show as an opportunity to meet our end users and to educate consumers in what our products are capable of."
Ann Taylor, an animations assistant attending the show, said: "The show began quiet, but soon picked up. 3D products were very interesting. It's been like one big melting pot, but I think the show has been a bit unfocused, and its unclear whether it's appealing to the high, middle or low end."
Peter Anderson, of Computers Unlimited, agreed: "We have had a lot of interest in Bryce 4.1 and Poser 4. I think it's because these products very much appeal to a mass market, they are very visual."
Clarified Show-goers seemed to be split between students, small-production companies and a few people looking into moving their business online, thought Anderson. He said: "I do think the show needs to clarify what it has become, it seems a bit unfocused. I believe this reflects a change in the industry as technology improves and advances are made. At the moment I'm not sure where the show identifies itself."
Simon Edward, editor and designer at IBEX, a firm which makes documentaries for TV, said: "The show was better last year. The whole exhibition was better laid out – the walk-around experience was better. All the same, I find the technologies on offer inspirational."
Graham Toms, of Newtek, makers of 3D application Lightwave, said: "We've seen a lot of people who actually create content, or artists looking into moving into3D design and video.
"The problem with people at the high-end of this industry is that they're hiring technicians to make their 3D products, rather than artists. It's one of the problems we've been seeing here, convincing large companies that you need artists. This isn't an industrial revolution, it's a renaissance."
Creative exodus Toms added: "Many companies are mistaking content for creativity. Aardman Animation had to hire animators in the US because the best UK animators have all moved there to get better pay and better working conditions. UK business does not understand creative people."
On the focus of the show, Stuart Arthur, also a Newtek rep, said: "The problem is a lot of these technologies are crossing over. The industry doesn't really know where it's going. In a way the lack of focus at this show is a mirror of what's happening in the industry."
Disapointing Iomega's Olivier Van Den Eede seemed disappointed by Digital Media World. He observed: "This show is too specialized for Iomega. There's been a lot of students and teachers, but no big players or key purchasers. It's been a bit disappointing in terms of sales" This feeling was reflected by other exhibitors on the Professional Products Pavilion.
Rachel Beckett, Discreet's UK marketing manager, said: "It's hard to tell how good the show's been for us. We've scanned in at least 12,000 people. The show is much more diverse than last year's."
Digital media is changing, and the show's seeming lack of focus is symptomatic of an industry on the verge of what companies, such as Apple, expect will be a major turning point for film, animation and design.
Check out these pictures from the show floor at Digital Media World.