While the official theme of NAB2004 was “Go Beyond,” the unofficial theme could have been “Established Products.” Last year’s NAB saw many new product and technology offerings. This year, manufacturers were trying to recoup some of that R&D money by showcasing established products and technologies with new enhancements to existing product lines.
For the 97,544 attendees looking for the latest from the 1,392 exhibitors, this was a good NAB. HD was everywhere (or at least promised soon) as the industry moves from terms such as “standard definition” and “high definition” to “low resolution” and just plain old video (that would be the HD variety). HD is no longer news...it’s become commonplace. It’s the products and technologies that can’t handle HD—just low-resolution standard definition video—that are news...old news.
Still, there was plenty to be seen in all resolutions and in a concise two and a half pages, here are the highlights of what we thought was cool.
Baystor (www.baystor.com) did something most thought was impossible: they added SMPTE timecode to DVDs with their BK-2500 DVD/DVR archiving system. The BK-2500 also maintains other signals in the vertical blanking data, such as closed caption with SDI, DV25, Y/C, component, and composite video with AES and balanced/unbalanced audio. The BK-2500 is genlockable, has RS-422 control and networking capabilities for remote device control, asset browsing, file management, and play/record scheduling.
(www.boxxtech.com) wowed the crowd with GoBOXX, a high-performance NLE workstation in a laptop, which started shipping late last month. The notebook-sized GoBOXX features 256MB of superfast DDR video memory powered by the next generation of ATI Mobility’s Radeon 9700 graphics card and Pentium 4 processors performing at up to 3.6GHz with 1MB L2 cache and two RAID 0 or RAID 1 hard drives. The system features a 17-inch WSXGA Ultrawide 1680 x 1050 resolution display and up to 2GB of memory. GoBOXX starts at $3,187 and is available with 3D applications such as 3ds max and LightWave 3D, DV editing solutions such as Adobe Premiere Pro and realtime HDV editing solutions with Adobe Premiere Pro and CineForm Aspect HD on Windows XP.
For those looking for a desktop that can do a variety of HD formats, check out HD [pro] RT with HD-SDI and HDV support
BUF Technology (www.buftek.com) showed their teeny tiny Sport instant replay system. How tiny? Only eight inches across, but with a built-in hard drive and balanced XLR audio.
(www.canonbroadcast.com) hit NAB hard with 13 new products, the coolest of which was the DIGISUPER 22xs compact studio lens (XJ22x7.3B IE-D). The new Canon compact lens delivers image quality better than any portable HD lens or SD box-style lens while taking full advantage of portable cameras. Best of all, you get high performance at an economical price in SD or HD.
For those looking for the highest HD quality while going portable, Canon introduced the HJ22ex7.6B lens with e-HDxs technology, Canon’s highest-quality portable lens to date.
Chyron (www.chyron.com) brought out the new C-Mix HD graphics mixer, a multi-layer video mixer designed for use in graphics production and master control. Up to four video and key input pairs plus a background layer can be combined in any order in the mixer, allowing layers to be both composited and blended. Additionally, C-Mix has an SD output and a post-mix upconverted HD output. Using the C-Mix, news and sports programs can be produced and be immediately available in SD.
Cobalt Digital (www.cobaltdigital.com) introduced its new 10-bit dual-rate HD/SD up-, down-, and cross-format converter, building on the success of the company’s 8021 format converter. The 8022 features dual-rate HD/SD digital inputs, digital outputs, and analog HD and SD outputs. All conversion modes include full aspect ratio (XY scaling and panning) and reticule overlay controls. The 8022 can add 3:2 pulldown, bridge interlace to progressive and progressive to interlace formats, and output in analog XGA.
DNF Controls (www.dnfcontrols.com) launched its new Clip Control module for the Flex Control Network line of integrated machine control building blocks. The new Clip Control module provides control over video servers while simplifying creation, recording, loading, and playout of clips. It’s using Odetics protocol, with VDCP and other protocols coming soon. Clip Control offers individual or simultaneous control over one or more video server channels, giving the server directional and operational instructions. Operators can load and play a clip on a single channel or load and synchronously play fill-clip and key-clip combinations on multiple channels. The new module also allows users to view a list of the clips residing in the video server.
Doremi Labs (www.doremilabs.com) showed their new MCS multi-channel server with VCR-like controls and the ability to encode and record MPEG-2 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 compressed video at user-selectable rates of 5-50Mbps. For the best in flexibility, the MCS has analog and digital interfaces and accepts Odetics, VDCP, and Sony 9-pin control protocols. The best part? Complete systems start at less than $16K.
Editware (www.editware.com) and ReelData (www.reeldata.com) introduced Media-DB, an asset management solution being used by Fox’s The Swan. Media-DB has three modules: Transcribe-DB, Library-DB, and Cliptext-DB. Each module supports a new user-friendly interface, metadata imports from popular editing systems, and a true multi-user environment (up to 250 simultaneous users). Powerful network links allow users to share vital information instantaneously.
Media-DB works on Windows, Linux, and Mac platforms and provides production staff with the ability to constantly monitor footage as it is digitized online from any desktop computer. As an added feature, multiple transcripts can be created simultaneously and viewed virtually as each word is typed.
Ensemble Designs (www.ensembledesigns.com) introduced BrightEye 30, a flexible audio converter that can be a two-channel, bi-directional ADC and DAC, or configured as a four-channel converter. Perfect for desktop, post, and broadcast applications, 24-bit processing ensures beautiful audio. It also serves as a sample rate converter. Audio mixing, level adjustments, and channel shuffling are accessed through the BrightEye PC software.
ERG Ventures (www.ergventures.com) introduced the HDM-EV35D six-inch LCD SD/HD monitor. This high-resolution monitor has HD-SDI and SD analog composite inputs. The active LCD area has a 960 x 540 resolution and displays 16.77 million colors with eight bits per color. As a result, the monitor can naturally display HD images without conversion. Aimed at portable outdoor use, the display functions are on the front of the monitor, making the use of cases and monitor hoods easier.
Hitachi Denshi America (www.hdal.com) introduced a low-cost HD camera for those of you who tend to be cost-conscious about such things. Part of Hitachi’s SK-3300 HDTV camera series, the new SK-31B is ideal for those seeking cost reduction through deployment of robotics in studio and field applications. The compact, lightweight SK-31B can be incorporated within indoor/outdoor cranes and tracking systems, mobile vehicles, and helicopters to capture live HD action through a cost-reducing robotic system.
Hitachi took the SK-31B one step further by offering both native 720p and 1080i outputs and can optionally incorporate a Hitachi up/downconversion module for switching between standard and high definition formats on the fly.
The SK-31B offers a 2RU, half-rack-width CCU, a digital optical fiber system, and can also be operated in self-contained mode through local power provision and using its HD-SDI output situated at the camera head.
Ikegami (www.ikegami.com) announced that EditCam was going HD, as they entered into a licensing and development agreement with Avid Technology (www.avid.com) to develop nonlinear HD camcorders and portable recording systems based on Avid DNxHD—Avid’s eight-bit and 10-bit HD encoding technology that enables collaborative HD post production with the same storage bandwidth and capacity requirements as SD files.
Under the current plan, Ikegami will develop its next-generation, high-quality nonlinear tapeless HD camcorder incorporating Avid DNxHD hardware designs. NL Technology (www.nltek.com) will incorporate Avid DNxHD hardware designs into its highly portable nonlinear field recording systems. Together, Ikegami, NL Technology, and Avid will deliver a tightly integrated, flexible nonlinear HD workflow that enables professionals to capture the highest quality HD footage and preserve image quality throughout the production, post production, and distribution process.
One other cool thing from Ikegami: the CCU-790A allows users to get both fiber and triax out of the same CCU.
Inscriber (www.inscriber.com) had a cool CG for smaller-market stations that want that bigger-market look. Inca titleOne provides advanced performance and functionality, including serial digital key and fill I/O with bypass and analog preview. For maximum creative control, Inca titleOne features render-free 2D effects, including page-based wipes, pushes, dissolves, and rolls and crawls.
To support the increasingly demanding workflow environment of broadcasting, automation and MOS support can be added to Inca titleOne for streamlined integration with newsroom automation systems including AP-ENPS and Avid/iNews. Inca titleOne can also be upgraded to Inca CG and Inca Studio.
Leitch (www.leitch.com), the new, proud owners of Videotek, claimed the “fastest newsroom in the world” with its NEXIO newsroom solution. It features integrated ingest, browse, edit, and rundown applications in an operation’s newsroom computer system and provides all users with instant access to all content, all the time, without restrictions.
Multidyne (www.multidyne.com) was just one of the companies showing photonic routing switchers at NAB. What’s so hot about photonic switching? Abe Queller, vice president of applications engineering for Lynx Photonic Networks (www.lynxpn.com) told engineers during an NAB conference session that all-optical photonic switching eliminates the current need for expensive optical-to-electrical and electrical-to-optical signal conversion and simplifies routing of multiple channels carried over a single fiber. Sounds good to us. Granted, photonic switching isn’t cheap, but it certainly is cool.
Multidyne teamed up with Calient Networks (www.calient.net) to introduce the FOS Series of fiber optic routing switchers available in matrix sizes starting at 32 x 32 bi-directional optical ports. The FOS Series is fully scalable to matrix sizes of up to 288 x 288 bi-directional ports. It delivers guaranteed-non-blocking, deterministic switched video over fiber optic connections.
PAG (www.pagusa.com), which is distributed in the U.S. by Ste-Man (www.ste-man.com), showed the Freelancer, an ultra-compact, ultra-tough two-position battery charger only slightly larger than a PAG L95 Li-Ion battery. The Freelancer incorporates two full-sized PAGlok connectors and will sequentially charge all PAGlok batteries. It incorporates PAG ACS software to extend the lifecycle of batteries. And it’s fast—a fully discharged 5-Ah battery will be fully charged in approximately three hours and 20 minutes, as sequential charging provides a fully charged battery in half the time it takes a simultaneous charger.
Petrol (www.petrolbags.com) showed the bag of my dreams—the PCBP-1. Carry your gear and your laptop in two separate bags or cases? Forget that. The PCBP-1 can be used either backpack-style or totable with the built-in trolley system. It fits small camcorders, such as the Sony PD150/170 and Panasonic DVX100A, still cameras, or accessories. For backpack users, padding cradles the lumbar. Here’s the cool part: This bag includes a separate padded pouch to double-protect a laptop computer when tucked inside.
RushWorks (www.rushworksmedia.com) had a small booth at NAB but a big idea: a low-cost, high-performance automation system. MasterPlay supports both event-driven (DTMF) and time-of-day scheduling and playback of intermixed MPEG and graphics files...starting at $5,495. The Mediappliance hosts all program, spot, and graphics playback...with RAID 1 or five-disk storage fail-over protection. With MasterPlay, you can create your playlist schedule or import a file from traffic. The program provides an as-run log and will even send you an email if there is trouble at a remote site.
The RushWorks’ MultiZone system, which lets you design graphics pages in PowerPoint, would be ideal for that second or third digital channel with community announcements and your broadcast schedule.
(www.sundancedigital.com) celebrated its 10th NAB anniversary this year and unleashed a new generation of NewsLink, delivering automation for all three critical categories of live news—high-profile prime-slot newscasts, competitive off-prime newscasts, and cut-ins. Version 2.0 adds control of cameras, audio, and switchers to its popular rundown-driven control of video servers, CGs, and stillstores. One of NewsLink’s strengths is that stations get to choose the desired amount of automation on a show-by-show basis while utilizing their existing equipment, and still preserving full production capacity.
Ward-Beck Systems (www.ward-beck.com) brought ALFA (Audio Leveller for Audiophiles) to NAB and as your viewers can tell you, it’s something you might want to consider. ALFA is designed to maintain a target level at the ingest or playout point of the program chain. ALFA is based on the DA305 Digital Audio Processing Amplifier of the Serialboxx family of cards. It offers a cost-effective method of controlling the level of multiple digital audio signals. ALFA features up to eight AES channels of control in a 1-RU frame and 20 channels of control in a 2-RU frame. Control can be preset for automatic level adjustment to predetermined levels or dynamic adjustment via a physical control panel.