As I prepare for a week in the neon desert visiting NAB, I ponder the phrase often heard from production folks: “It's only television.” I'm sure we all know viewers who don't care what poor-quality pictures they watch. Yet, as we gather every year to look at the latest broadcast equipment, the quest for quality seems at odds with the opening statement. But, as the plane swoops low over McCarran field and the lights of the Strip are pulsing down below, all is as clear as the Nevada air: We like immersive experiences.
From the Circus Maximus of ancient Rome to the casinos along the Strip, we all like a good show. Public entertainment has always been that — public. We don't watch wild animals in a stadium anymore, but we enjoy live theater or a night out at the movies. The technology of television brings that public entertainment to the home. With high-definition video and surround sound, now we can have the immersive experience at home.
Television is not just entertainment. We use the medium to deliver information — training, digital signage, corporate communications, news and weather. That too is very well-catered at NAB.
Television is growing up. What once delivered a fixed-definition picture to a tube in the corner of the room now has a wider gamut. From a thumbnail on a cell phone to a home theater system, television now uses technology to deliver in a format to suit the viewer. On the move, we need information. After work, we need undemanding entertainment. On the weekend, we want to watch sports or a movie. Each situation places different demands on the technology. It could be squeezing the ultimate in functionality from a battery-powered appliance or delivering the most realistic and thrilling viewing experience outside a theme-park ride.
Whether it is a sign in a store or screen in the back seat of a car, video is becoming ubiquitous. At NAB, we will see the latest technologies that aid content creation and delivery to mobile viewers. Television has escaped the confines of the home to become a private experience in a public place.
High-definition is not new, nor are many of the other delivery channels. What we will see this year is high performance, low-cost processing and storage, plus advances in compression algorithms and wireless technology. They all enable more efficient production workflows and additional channels for content delivery.
I have a feeling that this is the year that the technologies we have long talked about have now matured to the point where they can be deployed successfully.
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