NAB Day 1: Excellence awards & floor recap

Building up for months, the expectation for 4K to rule the NAB Show in Las Vegas came to fruition on Monday as companies turned out in full force to show their respective buy-ins into the industry's latest hot topic. From cameras to cloud storage solutions and displays, virtually everyone who has found a way to join the 4K crowd appears to have done so, at least judging from Monday's roll-out.

Also on Monday, Broadcast Engineering distributed its Excellence Awards, which honor the industry’s best examples of innovation, high-quality design and construction, as decided by our readers. Congratulations to the winners and runners-up, as well as to all the facilities that entered the awards.

Elsewhere on the floor:

- DVEO has an impressive setup showing off its True Check IP analyzer. While eye-catching, the analyzer is just part of the company's NAB package as it is also exhibiting its Ad Serter IP/ASI/SDI software-based system, which inserts video clips, ads, graphics, text and logos anywhere including web streaming, OTT, IPTV, mobile video, cell and more.

- Avitech International president Morris Gong spent time with Broadcast Engineering in order to highlight the Ranier 3G Plus series, which allows user to monitor four SDI (3G/HD/SD)/CVBS (NTSC/PAL) sources in a single card via a full HD 1080p output. While noteworthy, Gong lit up when getting to illustrate his product's durability and commitment to delivering quality by relating the story that 400 vibrations per second for 90 minutes couldn't disrupt the Ranier's performance.

- Eartec's James Joseph demonstrated the COMSTAR full duplex wireless system, a "breakthrough" product according to the company. The intercoms are not voice activated, and there is no delay when transmitting. Up to eight users can talk simultaneously as if on a telephone, and communication is possible up to 400 yards in any direction from Com-Center.

- At Screen Subtitling's Keith Lucas, VP international sales, discussed the company’s method to encode, store and display high-quality subtitles with served web video playback. The solution ensures that subtitles are always displayed in the style intended, regardless of the player, while allowing the viewer to select from several language streams (and off) without the need to re-encode the video or host multiple copies.

- MediaGeniX is showcasing its WHATS’On system, which manages and optimizes cross-media broadcasting, schedule and content lifecycle processes. It enables users to easily launch new channels or set up additional on-demand services in a cost-efficent way, while optimizing workflow and infrastructure.

- Media Excel is featuring its HERO encoding and transcoding product line. Media Excel HERO transcoding delivers several advantages, including encoding of live and VoD events, datacenter and cloud solutions, 99.999 percent proven uptime, and native MPEG-DASH support. New to the product line are the HERO 5000E low-latency encoder platform designed for point-to-point distribution over IP and ASI networks, and the HERO 5000D decoder platform designed for point-point distribution over IP and ASI networks.

- Among the many 4K developments are two new 4K cameras from Sony — the F55 and the F5 cameras — aimed at television and commercial production applications. Phil Squyres, SVP of Sony Pictures Television, was on hand at a press event on NAB eve to discuss the 4K workflow employed by the studio for a number of new shows. Squyres reported that “4K is not four times more difficult as HD,” and that his crews “had no real issues shooting in 4K.” Sony also rolled onto the stage at its press conference two new consumer 4K TVs at price points within the reach of more consumers.

- LG Electronics also used the opening day of NAB to announce the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Final Four was the first major U.S. sports event recorded in 4K for a close-circuit demo.

- In the past year Microsoft’s Media and Cable division has made significant inroads with broadcasters for its Windows Azure Media Platform, which consists of cloud-based services to help broadcasters deploy new channels and expand existing ones in a relatively fast and highly cost-effective way. Taras Bugir, Worldwide Managing Director of the division, said Microsoft is not trying to take over the industry, despite the widely held perception among traditional broadcasters. The company has invested more than $3 billion in data centers around the world to give customers a truly global reach. Its latest customer: NBC Sports’ digital platforms, including, and

- Digital Nirvana showed AnyStream IQ, which is a cloud system for monitoring streaming video. It’s SaaS, so it hits OPEX instead of CAPEX. Plug a streaming FLV or HLS URL into AnyStream to start. The system records the video and can extract closed captioning information, which is important given FCC mandates for streaming video.

- Vizrt is showing a demonstration on its booth of live 4 rendering of 4K graphics in real time. (EVS is also showing this capability in a back room.) It appears Vizrt’s product (part of its Viz Media Engine platform) is at a more advanced stage in its development than other graphics suppliers. The company is also showing a cool application for multiplatform delivery, whereby they can generate six outputs from a single feed. CNN (in New York) is using this application now. Executives said they could output more formats if the customer adds more processing power. To that end, Vizrt has entered into a partnership with NVidia to use NVidia’s new GRID server platform, which features multiple GPU accelerators in a single box.

- ARRI started off with lights, specifically improvements to its HMI line. Adds M90 model (9kW). The light has a new ballast that also works with 6kW lights. The L series (LED) gets a new model with active cooling, resulting in a smaller, lighter package. L7-TT is a tuneable tungsten designed to match existing lights perfectly. 2600-3600k color temperature range.

Baron Services, the veteran weather graphics company, has unveiled version 4.0 of its popular Omni weather system. It’s a free upgrade for existing users. The new software is focused on improved graphics look and enhanced weather data for local station forecasting. The result is an improved on-air look for stations and a “warm and fuzzy” experience for viewers. Also included is the ability to display animated 3D ocean waves, complete with reflection of graphics and text appearing on the water’s surface, and large waves producing sea sprays. And there are lots of other effects (shadows, hail storms, etc.). You have to see it to appreciate4 what the company has accomplished. It’s very cool (pardon the pun).

Digimetrics showed its file-based QC system, Aurora, along with Eos loudness correction. Aurora can be accessed from a variety of devices. Aurora processes HD files in real time and SD files up to five times faster than real time. The system relies on NVIDIA GPUs for some of its most computationally intense checks. The company also has made several integration deals with the likes of Digital Rapids, Telestream, etc.

- The Harris Broadcast Platinum IP3 router, with up to 2K x 2K matrix configurations possible, is being billed as the world’s first triple-path router--that’s video, audio and IP data. Stan Moot, at Harris, said the IP part is not for video but for ancillary data, like closed captioning, multi-viewing and machine control. The Platinum IP3 is also the first signal router, according to Harris, that can scale to multi-frame configurations for very large broadcast and media operations using a common architecture. This simplifies installations and eliminates costs associated with external components and complex cabling. The router’s intelligent architecture maximizes on-air security, with a unique approach to audio, video and multiviewer signal protection based on redundant crosspoints and integrated routing designs.

As we did throughout the first day at NAB, Broadcast Engineering will have NAB covered better than anyone for the remainder of the show. Continue to check here, and look us up on Facebook and Twitter for even more notes and live reporting from the show floor!