In Search Of The Next Big Thing At NAB 2019
With U.S. broadcasters still in a state of multichannel, multiplatform confusion, this year’s National Association of Broadcasters’ (NAB) Show looks to be largely a collection of technologiesin search of a buyer. Any buyer.
Local broadcasters in large part are not interested in 4K, yet there will be plenty of 4K production and distribution equipment on display. Artificial intelligence algorithms will be shown running a myriad of software programs—from AM systems to live remote production systemsthat perform tasks traditionally performed by a human director-but they can be expensive and overkill for a lot of applications. And, for U.S. professionals of all types, there’s been a collective “let’s not go there,” sigh in regards to 8K.
One technology advancement that is gaining significant traction is capturing images in HD esolution (1920x1080p) with more colors (high dynamic range) and at higher frame rates (approximately 120 frames per second). In countless side-by-side tests HD HDR images are viewed as sharper and more pleasing than the hard visual eality of 4K.
That’s why this year at the 2019 NAB Show we’ll see several new HD camera with HDR capability (from Grass Valley, Hitachi, Ikegami, anasonic and Sony) on the show floor. Most will be offering new software upgrades for existing HD cameras that facilitate “visibly superior HDTV productions with increased contrast, expandedmid-tones and greater detail in dark and bright picture regions,” according to one company’s press release.
These new cameras support the most common DR specifications, including HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) and HPQ, which is compatible withthe HDR10 open standard for consumer TVs. The reason is that broadcasters are not distributing 4K to consumers, so why spend the money on4K-production equipment when the less disruptive HD HDR spec is more than adequate.
While the industry continues to promote the move to IP infrastructures, evangelizing its list of benefits over baseband SDI (resolution independence, smaller lighter cabling, and long-distance outing capability), the majority of installed systems are indeed based on SDI. That could be why major equipment suppliers like FOR-A and oss Video continue to beat the drum for 12 Gbps system designs. This strategy is very capable of handling both HD and 4K signals while preserving the legacy equipment and infrastructures.
After introducing the world’s first single link 2G SDI production switcher at last year’s NAB convention, FOR-A Corp. is this year showcasing ommercially available production switchers, video servers, keyers and test signal generators that support both 12G-SDI/4K and 3G-SDI/HD resolutions. The switcher can be configured for 80 inputs/32 outputs or 64 inputs/48 outputs.
However, the company is also allowing customers to hedge their bets on IP as well. While the 3 M/E HANABI HVS-6000 uses a single cable link, and video signals are processed throughout as a single image, it can be purchased with an optional board-mounting SFP connector that supports an IP interface.
Many other companies on the show floor will show display converter or gateway products to help customers seamlessly move between IP and SDI as required.
Remote processing, or the cloud, has now become so ubiquitous that it’s become a given that at least parts of every broadcast facility is tied to a distant data center due to the efficiencies this technical strategy brings. Virtually every piece of technology that once was available as a dedicated hardware- only solution is now sold as a software-based service (SaaS).
At the NAB Show this year Telestream istaking its Vantage media-processing platform nto the Cloud with the launch of Vantage Cloud Port. The company will also demo OptiQ, its Cloud-based channel-creation system, previously own as Project Orchid. OptiQ is a SaaS one-click channel-creation solution that allows organizations to leverage public and private clouds, as well as on-premise virtualized infrastructures. This announcement will be echoed in many exhibit booths, as the infinite system scalability and low capital costs cannot be ignored.
Other technologies that have grown in popularity include robotic camera systems andautomated newsroom systems. Both are allowing smaller station to produce live local newscasts on shoestring budget. In many cases newscast are manned by a single operator. Companies in these two categories include Avid, Grass Valley, MRC/ Nikon, Ross Video, Shotoku, and Telemetrics.
What’s driving success or failure among equipment vendors is the ability to recognize market changes and the competitive landscape. With new entrants like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and others, traditional broadcasters as strugglingto keep their grip on the TV viewer. Helping them work smarter and more efficiently is what will keep broadcasters coming back as customers.
To this end, vendors are constantly seeking new markets in which to sell their wares. The atest being the eSports market, where live gaming events have become all the rage. Traditional production equipment, like cameras, production switchers, servers, lighting, and audio gear have all found favor in eSports events.
Recognizing this, this year the NAB Show is introducing a new exhibit area (located in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center) called the “Esports Experience.” It will be an interactive area with exhibits, a theater and educational programming that showcase the latest online gaming trends and content delivery technologies. The Esports Experience houses a built-in recording studio, in which popular gaming radio show CheckPoint XP will conduct live interviews with AB Show speakers, industry leaders and influencers.
With no elections or major sporting event, like the Olympics, to support this year, broadcasters will be in a less-than-willing buying mood. Necessary studio upgrades will be the order of the day. Therefore, it’s technology that promises flexibility and low cost, fast return on investment that willattract them most.