NAV would be a more appropriate acronym for the multi-day conference that NAB hosts in Las Vegas each spring. Video (and audio to a lesser extent) is the common denominator to the sessions and the vendors that populate the massive exhibit floor. The “B” (broadcasters) in NAB was somewhat smaller in scope compared to the innovation surrounding the capture, post-production and digital distribution of video that years ago used to be sent exclusively over-the-air.
An article about NAB 2014 needs at least one mention of 4K or Ultra HD. For those who are skeptical of its rollout, there were several data points suggesting it is further along than HD was at this point:
One sports league is reported to be using 4K for instant replays, as it allows them to electronically zoom in after the play and still maintain HD quality.
Sony was showing 4K content from their service, a beta of Netflix’s 4K service and a 4K feed from Time-Warner’s New York Local News channel.
The cost of cameras continues to drop with Black Magic Design showing a 4K camera for less than $3k; granted with lenses and other accessories, the pricing for a complete unit might be double that price, but the bigger point is how far down the price curve 4K is compared to HD at this point in its rollout.
Several companies displayed larger than life 4K monitors. These would make incredible digital signage solutions.
Another trend, which is similar to other industries, is the substitution of purpose-built appliances (e.g. encoders) for generic compute hardware that can be repurposed as needed. This provides more efficient utilization of resources. It also provides for business models where video resources can reside in a cloud, reducing upfront investment.
Despite FAA rules (which are being contested) prohibiting their commercial use, drones were everywhere at NAB. One of the drone makers- Dji – showed an amazing piece filmed mostly indoors (unclear whether the FCC claims that indoor airspace is also under their control) with shots that could have required multiple cameras and jibs. It was filmed in multiple rooms, on multiple floors in one continuous shot. The pilot of the drone did an amazing job capturing the footage.
The following pictures provide some other observations from the show [Note, apologies for the poor quality of some of these photos; many were shot on the run without time for review]:
Ken Pyle is co-founder of Viodi, LLC and Managing Editor of the Viodi View, a publication focused on independent telcos’ efforts to offer video to their customers. He has edited and produced numerous multimedia projects for NTCA, US Telecom and Viodi. Pyle is the producer of Viodi’s Local Content Workshop, the Video Production Crash Course at NAB, as well as ViodiTV. He has been intimately involved in Viodi’s consulting projects and has created processes for clients to use for their PPV and VOD operations, as well authored reports on the independent telco market.