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Tom Butts is the Editor in Chief of TV Technology.

Another NAB has come and gone and as usual, there’s no shortage of opinions about out industry’s largest event. As has been our custom for the past few years, we’re sharing thoughts from our editorial correspondents:


Without a dominant fad like last year’s 3D bubble as a distraction, the 2011 NAB Show returned to introducing new technologies across the digital production landscape. There seemed to be more interest in 4K and IPTV than 3D this year, although it was welcoming to see the new generation of passive 3D displays at several booths. The competition to replace critical evaluation CRT monitors has charged off into OLED, LED backlit LCD and plasma directions.

Of course some things haven’t changed. There is still little consistency to the location identifiers of the exhibits (why no numbered lanes and lettered aisles?), the NAB Web site was still amazingly user-unfriendly until just before the show, actually shutting out the significant Mac/Safari community in broadcast and production, and the unbridled jumble of competing WiFi signals crippled personal communication to the amazement of many international guests.

This is a technology convention, isn’t it?


One interesting observation that I will make about Mobile DTV at NAB is how it was perceived by the attendees. I spoke to many people who felt that there was virtually no hype or hoopla about Mobile DTV compared to last year’s event. In their minds, it had vanished. I, on the other hand spent a good deal of time at the Mobile DTV pavilion looking at the various receive devices that are either out (not too many in that category) or will be out in the near future.

I met with a number of transmitter manufacturers to discuss their Mobile DTV solutions for my nine transmitters from two different manufacturers. I think the manufacturers have realized that in order to insure deployment of mobile, they have to offer a drop in conversion that means more than just modifying the exciter in the DTV transmitter. I talked with an-tenna manufacturers about methods for adding vertical components to the IPTV sites.

All of these conversations revolved around deliverable products rather than theoretical concepts. So my take away is that there may not have been a Mobile DTV extravaganza going on, but it was all over the place if you were really interested in getting information for technology deployment. Sadly, business plans are still vague and scarce.

In a similar vein, 3D had very little hoopla on the floor although it was well covered in the Broadcast Engineering Conference. At last year’s NAB, 3D—like mobile—was the talk of the floor with huge numbers of vendors touting their plans for deployment of 3D technology. 3D was pretty big at CES earlier this year with manufacturers announcing their 3D ca-pable displays. As with mobile, 3D information and technology was available on the floor, it just wasn’t being hyped. My observation about 3D at the NAB is that at this point in time there doesn’t seem to be a way to deliver 3D content via broadcast without significant compromise to the quality of that content. To some it appears that we must give up high defi-nition to do 3D (at least for the near term) and the future of 3D for the home is not a guaranteed success.

My final observation regarding the overall tenor of the show is that this year the focus seemed to be more on real business and less on hype. Virtually all of the vendors and manufacturers that I spoke with were very happy with the amount of people they saw and the level of business they did. I am already looking forward to next year.


NAB 2011 marked the close of the HD upheaval and the beginning of a new era that must accommodate consumers with multiple screens and constant access to social media.

There was also more optimism in the air this year. There were more new startups willing to take chances. Smaller companies showed expansion beyond TV stations and into the mo-bile device audience.

The television broadcast industry showed that they are learning how to leverage the power of the Internet, mobile devices, and social media. Television shows are increasingly made to not only be consumed on a variety of screens, but also to allow interactivity with the audience via Facebook and Twitter. We are at a point where all content producers have to con-sider the role of the Internet and social media in their relationship with the audience. And as this recognition turns into practice, the very definition of television is changing.


NAB attendees clearly sent a message to the industry—keep developing workflow management solutions to make our work easier, more efficient and less costly. Last year we saw the foundations that allowed for connectivity and general file interchange. We saw toolsets being integrated into video editing, media asset management and server/storage technologies that attempt to ratify the message “do more with less.” Attendees saw companies that have now merged with stronger broadcast players to refine the available choices in their previous products while adding synergistic value to those companys’ now integrated product lines.

The continued growth in media-centric data now necessitates the need for more control over where those assets are and how they can be accessed. As such we are witnessing a quantum leap forward in archive solutions for all segments of the industry. which medium they place their assets. NAB also showed there is a continuing shift away from legacy for-mats to solid state formats.