Noteworthy technology on the NAB Show floor
Attendance numbers aside, there was quite a bit of new technology at NAB 2009 that was worth a second look.
AJA Video introduced its new KiPro multiformat video recorder with removable solid-state media that captures QuickTime files using Apple’s ProRes compression scheme. This makes them instantly recognized within a Final Cut Pro timeline, so editing can begin immediately (no transcoding). There’s also an exoskeleton to mount it on a camera.
Recognizing that Apple’s Final Cut Pro software is now universally used among broadcast professionals, numerous manufacturers’ product lines showed tighter integration. Video editing, servers and even cameras (JVC) showed new support to enable FCP workflows.
Broadcast Pix showed its Slate production software installed on a highly portable case (configured by Magic Wave Productions, a systems integrator and event video production company based in Pleasanton, CA). The unit is ideal for a variety of low-budget, multicamera HD productions.
The 45lb Magic Wave Magma system includes Broadcast Pix Slate software in a semi-soft portable carrying case on wheels that can be quickly deployed as necessary. The system includes a 17in LCD monitor and detachable keyboard, with options like a hard-sided shipping case and other Broadcast Pix control interfaces available.
And with all the I/O functionality of the Slate integrated production system, including the video switcher, multiviewer, Inscriber CG, clip and graphic stores, Fluent workflow software, and aspect and format conversion, this really is a “studio in a box.”
Anton Bauer unveiled a new solar panel battery charger, in the form of a 3.5ft x 5ft (11in x 9 1in folded up) flexible sheet that can be spread on the ground and used in remote locations where access to AC power is problematic. The soft, flat solar panel (made by a company called Power Film) charges a standard two-hour Dionic (Lithium Ion) battery in three hours in full sun.
The 1.76lb solar charging panel is in prototype form, as Anton Bauer is still developing a rugged interconnect between the panel and its charging plate, but the potential is huge.
Sony filled out its HDCAM SR product line with the new SRW-9000 HDCAM SR camcorder that captures high-quality (4:4:4) component signals on videotape (many agree that tape is still the cheapest way to record such a large amount of data). It offers 1920 x 1080 HD resolution in a camcorder that uses 2/3in CCDs with a 14-bit A/D converter and digital signal processing to capture up to 1080/60P images.
Looking to tap into the teleconference, CAD/design and distance learning markets that have a need for high-quality imagery, JVC showed its KY-F4000 real-time 4K camera displaying 1080/60p images on a 56in LCD panel with 4K resolution. The compact camera features a single 1.25in CMOS image sensor of 3840 x 2160 pixels, capable of producing live images with 4X the resolution of full HD.
The two-piece design of the KY-F4000 includes a compact camera head at 6.6lbs, which is ideal for pan and tilt mounting applications. The CCU processor can be separated from the camera head at a distance of 328ft.
The KY-F4000 features ultra high-resolution imaging, with a 60 progressive frame live output capability, including HDSDI Dual Link (4:2:2/10 bit 4 ch) and DVI Single Link (4:4:4/8 bit x 4ch). The camera also features a built-in genlock input, HDSDI 1080 (60i/59.94i). Additional specifications include an RGB Bayer color filter, switchable 60p/59.94 frame rate, and for the demonstration, a Nikon F-mount is used.
Harmonic’s Rhozett division showed a new electronic fingerprinting capability in its Carbon Coder transcoding technology that can be used as a delivery platform for generating ID files for YouTube’s Content ID System. This allows Carbon Coder users to automatically generate an ID file or so-called “fingerprint” of the video content they own during the transcode process.
Using YouTube’s Content ID System, they may then upload these ID files to YouTube and use them to automatically identify their content in user-uploaded videos on YouTube and apply “usage policies” that have been specified by the content owners regarding how they want matched content to be handled by YouTube, such as monetize, track usage statistics or block content.
The idea is to place the onus of protecting content on the content owner to avoid file sharing (and lawsuits) on YouTube.
Canon’s new 14dx4.3 HD ENG lens has such a wide angle of view (96.3 degrees) that it was able to capture the far ends of the company’s NAB booth set in a single shot, when the peripheral vision of two naked eyes were not able to do so without turning from left to right. On the show floor, Canon sold 30 of the lenses to CNN in Atlanta, to be used with Sony PFDX-700 HD cameras.
Vizrt and STATS showed off their holographic-effect technology, used by CNN, which enables a remotely located person to electronically appear in the studio. A live demonstration at the company’s booth showed how problematic it can be for an inexperienced “guest” to use the system, as the audio delay between an interviewer and interviewee can be quite disarming for someone not used to it.
The technique requires that a semicircle of small cameras is positioned around the guest standing against a green screen in a remote studio. In the main studio, a single camera is fitted with special sensors that help position the virtual guest next to the live guest.
The system uses STATS’ video processing and tracking technology, in tandem with Vizrt’s real-time tracking and rendering software. The impression of the holographic interview is completed in fractions of a second. The company said multiparticipant interviews are possible.
Aside from 3-D editing and compositing software from all of the veteran vendors in the space, and stunning LCD and plasma displays that were abundant at NAB, production systems are beginning to appear that will make such 3-D productions for live sports and entertainment practical very soon.
There were 3Gb/s-capable production switchers from Broadcast Pix, Echolab and FOR-A, as well as routers from all of the major vendors.
CG/graphics systems from Avid (Deko), Chyron (HyperX), Harris (Inscriber) and Pixel Power (Clarity) were shown with new 3-D capabilities.
Panasonic announced a new initiative to develop an entire end-to-end 3-D production system, including a camera, switcher, Blu-ray player and TV display.
Miranda introduced a new 3-D multiviewer, called the Kaleido X16 for live sports applications. Miranda’s Michel Proulx cited a terrestrial broadcast network that was interested in distributing 3-D content. “3-D is getting real and is something we should all be looking at.”