5Qs About NAB 2016: Clyde Smith

LAS VEGASTV Technology asked a cross-section of NAB Show-goers a series of five questions regarding what they considered the main themes, evidence of those, whether or not these initiatives will take hold, and what promising technologies from past NAB Shows did not see daylight. (A complete list of quotes from respondents and links to their full 5Qs is at “NAB 2016 in 21 Quotes.”)

Clyde Smith, semi-retired consultant at Fox Network Engineering and Operations:
Q1.How many NAB Shows have you attended?
C.S. This was number 36. I missed four—two due to space shuttle launches, one due to reorganization and one due a budget cut.

Q2.What, in your opinion, were the main themes of the show this year?
C.S. Key enabling emerging technologies become real! ATSC 3.0, IP plant infrastructure, HDR and Rec. 2020.

Q3.What were some examples of these themes?
C.S.ATSC 3.0: The Futures Park had many great demos with real 3.0 receivers and set-top boxes, and demonstrations of the features live. Most impressive to me was the NAB Pilot demo of the run-time environment with rapid channel change and features like personalization of breaks and the sports viewer preference options, like riding with your favorite NASCAR driver. The audio experiences with customization for accessibility and preferences was also very impressive.
IP plant infrastructure: It was encouraging to see all the major vendors, and some end users, join AIMs to hopefully achieve ubiquitous interoperability. The best demo was in the Arista booth showing 18 vendors interoperating with IP infrastructure. I was also very impressed with Embrionix supporting interoperability with SFPs [small-form pluggables] that could allow you to evolve your infrastructure over time. I think that is a game changer.
UHD with HDR and Rec. 2020: Too many great demos to single one out. When it is done right, it is very impressive. Now, we need to be able to consistently do it right. I saw as many bad examples as I did good, many on the same system. What made them bad, they used the features in a way that detracted from the storytelling. While it did show off the technology, it also demonstrated that you can destroy the storyline by shifting the viewers attention away from the director’s intent.

Q4.Do you foresee any or all of these technologies or initiatives taking hold?
C.S. Each of these technologies will be cornerstone of future broadcast infrastructure. The success of each of these is essential to supporting the evolution of broadcast technology to permit us to support business and creative vision in a rapidly changing business and consumer marketplace.

Q5.What technology that impressed you most at a past show didn’t see the light of day?
C.S. Resistance to interoperability, the lack of belief in the need for interoperability from both users and manufacturers. As late as last year, I heard manufacturers saying that their end users “wanted to build a plant with a single vendor’s products,” as if that would insure interoperability.
I did not hear one manufacturer say that this year.
The IABM market survey, presented at NAB, showed that interoperability has risen to the top three considerations among end users making purchasing decisions. Eighty-eight percent of users stated that interoperability was either important or very important in making their purchasing decisions. A few years ago, interoperability barely showed up on the survey. While this is encouraging, I have two concerns. One is that 66 percent are unfamiliar with major industry interoperability initiatives, and only a small percentage of users were active in these interoperability initiatives, and even fewer know how to achieve interoperability. Obviously this is an great opportunity for education from standards bodies, industry associations and manufacturers alike.