What to Expect at 2015 NAB

In advance of the NAB Show, we asked our writers what they expect. Here’s what they had to say.


For the past year there has appeared an actual market for 4K production, with Amazon and Netflix demanding programming in the ultra HD format. Prior to this development, programs may have been shot in 4K, but were delivered in HD. The need for actual 4K programs for these streaming delivery services has led to purchases of large sensor, high-end 4K cameras by rental houses in production hubs in the United States and around the world.

A second trend is 4K sports production. Grass Valley and Hitachi threw down the gauntlet at last year’s show when they debuted 2/3-inch imager 4K cameras, which can use the long zoom lenses developed for HD sports. Expect to see 2/3-inch imager 4K cameras from other camera makers on the floor this year.

Focus on Editing

Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a drone, it’s the whole future of the broadcast industry!

The flying camera platforms that will be buzzing around the “Aerial Robotics and Drone Theater” are a perfect metaphor for the state of our industry. The promise of 4K is looming over our heads although very little source material exists for home viewing in that resolution. Content that does exist in 4K comes almost exclusively from streaming, leaving broadcasters stuck with a spectrum-limited infrastructure betting a lot on the success of new compression codecs.

Inside Audio

Pro Tools finally became a 64-bit application when v11 was released in 2013 and it also gained important new features like fasterthan- realtime bounce. When v12 was announced there were no significant features announced other than those related to Avid Everywhere: a new subscription model and built-in collaboration. Pro Tools users will be watching Avid with fingers crossed that the new version has important bug fixes, expanded work surface compatibility, and features that improve workflow for all users.

Also, now that audio system proposals for ATSC 3.0 have been announced let’s hope that Dolby, DTS, and the Fraunhofer consortium demonstrate their technologies at the show. Finally, audio-over-IP should really take off this year now that AVB is getting some significant traction in the marketplace.

Media Storage Technology

For an industry that relies on mixing signals, this year’s NAB Show is also delivering a lot of mixed messages. The hype about secondscreen content is fading away, yet several studies suggest that simultaneous viewing of broadcast and online content is becoming a serious part of the “TV experience.” That means it’s worth keeping an eye on software to integrate two-screen viewing.

In a related vein, the agenda’s roster of “Big Data: Internet of Things and Wearable Technology” points to the emergence of new services and OTT ventures that could become part of the “TV experience,” although the timetable is fuzzy. These developments are tied to ATSC 3.0, which will be widely discussed in tech circles. Those conversations will inevitably be conjoined with deliberations about the politicallycharged spectrum auction/repacking for the next standard.

The Masked Engineer

Thinkin’ about the NAB Show reminds me of what happened when I lived next door to the cannoli shop: All of a sudden, I’m out lookin’ for elastic-waistband trousers in progressively bigger sizes.

This year’s NAB shoppers are in the same boat. They fell in love with all those bargainpriced 4K cameras at last year’s show, but this year, they’re payin’ the piper, and pretty much everybody else, too. They need bigger sizes of everything—higher bandwidth for studio infrastructure and 4K-capable recorders. Their storage is bustin’ at the seams, and they can’t just switch to sweatpants (like I did with that cannoli “problem”). They need better monitors, and some folks will be lined up to see H.265/HEVC solutions, hoping in vain to make their streams skinny, ‘cause the distribution pipes ain’t gettin’ any huskier.

For the 4K faithful, NAB might be expensive, but not nearly as embarrassing as getting your pants at Omar the Tentmaker’s shop. Lousy cannolis.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.