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Exhibitors Excited to Reconnect With NAB Show Attendees

Road to NAB Show
(Image credit: NAB)

Faced with the challenges of the pandemic over the past year and a half, manufacturers regrouped to make sure broadcasters had products they needed to stay on the air. But the chance to meet with customers and colleagues in person is what’s been missing. As the industry prepares to gather in Las Vegas, exhibitors are eager to get back to business. We caught up with Telestream’s Scott Murray, SVP corporate marketing; Marshall Electronics’ Tod Musgrave, director of cameras; Dielectric’s Jay Martin, VP of sales; Dee McVicker, who is affiliated with Wheatstone Corp.; Maxon’s Paul Babb, chief marketing officer; and Chyron’s Carol Bettencourt, vice president of marketing, to hear their thoughts.

TV TECH: Heading to the NAB Show, what is your company looking forward to?

TELESTREAM’S SCOTT MURRAY: Everyone at Telestream is looking forward to meeting customers in person again. There’s nothing like getting feedback and working to solve challenges face-to-face. We’ve been hard at work and are eager to show people what we’ve developed including some exciting announcements that are coming out this fall.

MARSHALL’S TOD MUSGRAVE: The Marshall team is always eager to speak to our broadcast integrators and hear from the pros that use our products on a daily basis as well as for projects. This face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable and has always been a key source of feedback for us regarding our technology as to what’s working well in the field, what needs improving, and what emerging technologies are most important to them in practical use. These genuine face-to-face conversations with our customers provide us with the true and real feedback about the market, challenges, best practices, etc., and how we can better serve our customer base.

DIELECTRIC’S JAY MARTIN: Exhibitors are excited to get back in front of customers. This has been an unprecedented 30 months between NAB Shows, and much has changed from a market standpoint. We were in the middle of the TV spectrum repack at the 2019 NAB Show, which is the last time we all convened in Las Vegas. The design and manufacture of antennas, transmission line and RF systems hit an all-time high in 2019. Since that point, technology has continued to advance and markets have changed, both domestically and globally.

WHEATSTONE’S DEE MCVICKER: For manufacturers like Wheatstone, the NAB Show is the finish line. That is the fine point in time when all the work we’ve put into our new products comes into sharp focus and we get our first real input by the customer. Certainly, there are shows, events, and road trips along the way — well, at least there were until COVID-19 — but this one show is a huge part of the development cycle for us because we get product feedback from a wide variety of customers. NAB Shows are also where we get ideas for future products, where we look for solutions to industry problems or for ways to improve our products. That feedback loop is important, and I think that’s what we missed the most not being able to go to NAB Show last year.

MAXON’S PAUL BABB: Artists are at the heart of what we do at Maxon; we’re so fortunate to have such a dynamic and engaged community of users. That’s really what the return to NAB Show is all about for us — reconnecting with that community and spending time together in real life instead of video chats. The community is so ready to gather and reconnect, too.

CHYRON’S CAROL BETTENCOURT: The NAB Show is an integral part of our industry. It is a special time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, as well as meet new people. Most importantly, it is a unique opportunity for us to share and listen to our clients, gauge their needs and pain points, and ensure that our products are meeting their expectations and beyond.

TVT: Does anything specific have you excited to be back?

MURRAY: We are social creatures and we’ve been isolated from our social networks for a year and a half. Ours is a close industry, and many people have known each other for years. Even though people move from vendor to vendor or customer to customer, there are a lot of friendships and relationships between people that have existed for decades.

MUSGRAVE: We are excited to be back so that we can interact with our customers, hear their successes and challenges, and introduce our products to new users.

MARTIN: The basic premise for customer engagement is face time. This has been non-existent since March 2020, and exhibitors are excited to get back to this to share what has changed. Dielectric will have a strong focus on technology changes on the radio side, and this will be accompanied by product launches at the show.

MCVICKER: Yes. I am personally interested in seeing what’s new on the auto dashboard and how we’re delivering programming to the car and new ways of using metadata, etc. Someone posed the question on social media recently asking if most of us listen to music outside the car, and I realized that about the only time I listen to music anymore is when I’m driving. Most everyone who responded to that post had a similar comment. At the same time, things have changed drastically in the automobile for me. We purchased a Tesla a few months ago, and you know, it doesn’t have a radio with buttons and knobs. It’s just a huge computer monitor. So, not only is my entire music experience taking place in the car these days; I’m experiencing music and radio through a user interface that is a lot different than even a year ago.

TVT: Did the pandemic affect your company’s product lineup for this show?

MURRAY: The pandemic did cause us to slightly adjust our priorities as we rushed to align ourselves with the needs of our customers. Our Glim product, which lets people play high-res media files from anywhere, is an example of that. For the most part our roadmap has remained unaltered and on schedule thanks to plenty of strategic decision-making by the team.

MUSGRAVE: Not so much, as we’ve been hard at work throughout the pandemic ensuring our products serve the new normal. When the market shifted to remote collaboration, remote reporting, remote work, remote everything, we had those products available in IP, USB and NDI forms. We’ve also been deep in product development. However, we did choose to change the way we will display and demo products at the show.

MARTIN: ATSC 3.0 has gained traction since the last NAB Show. There are new filings daily with the FCC for stations modifying licenses to broadcast NextGen TV. This is a critical moment in TV broadcasting because NextGen TV can bridge the gap between what has traditionally generated revenue (OTA broadcast and must-carry revenue) to a business model that leverages OTA while tying back to multimedia elements. That includes streaming, datacasting, targeted advertising and even software updates to automobiles. The list goes on.

MCVICKER: It did. First, let me say that the pandemic affects so much of what we do today. We are delivering as I speak on a multi-million-dollar contract that includes more than 200 consoles and a thousand I/O units, one of our largest orders to date, which is amazing given that we’re in the middle of a very volatile supply chain as a result of the pandemic. But to answer your question, products like our ReMIX remote mixing app and our new, fourth-generation I/O Blade that includes codecs, for example, to better assist broadcasters working remotely are certainly going to be part of our product lineup at the show. The pandemic also shifted everyone’s thinking on streaming, and we’re introducing a new streaming appliance that addresses those needs, such as processing, metadata support and multiple stream management. Finally, there’s a general overall need for practical networking solutions like our entry-level AoIP system (DMX with I/O Razor AoIP) as broadcasters everywhere downsize their facilities and renegotiate leases for smaller spaces now that the hybrid work model seems to be here to stay. Everything is so much more about access these days — access to home studios, access to more programming and metadata, and access to cloud, which, by the way, is another development area for us. AoIP systems like our WheatNet-IP is at the heart of all of that.  

BETTENCOURT: We worked with our key clients to learn how we could help them during this unique time. Ultimately, we accelerated the initiatives in our product roadmap that could facilitate remote or blended workflows. We invested heavily in development. Our flagship product today is the PRIME Live Platform, supporting CG, production switching, clips, branding, augmented reality, video walls, venue control and video scaling. The newest addition to the PRIME Live Platform family is Commander, enabling production automation of the platform’s core functionalities as well as third-party devices. In developing PRIME Live Platform, Chyron aimed to create a flexible, scalable solution that can be implemented on premises, or on a private or public cloud. And carefully considering the challenges of customers, we developed pricing that allows the customer to choose a capex model, paying for systems in full, or an opex subscription-based model. Chyron also invested significantly in PRIME VSAR, for virtual sets and augmented reality, based on the Unreal Engine. Not only does PRIME VSAR produce stunning, realistic environments, it integrates fully with Chyron’s CAMIO-MOS workflow, allowing complete virtual environments or augmented reality elements to be called up within the newsroom computer system workspace and added to the rundown.

TVT: Is your company planning anything in their booth to keep visitors safe?

MURRAY: We plan on adhering to the NAB Show guidelines, which we fully expect them to provide well in advance of the show. As the current situation evolves rapidly, we’re keeping close watch and making the best decisions we can. Naturally the safety of our staff and customers is top of mind and current trends are worrying.

MUSGRAVE: We’re designing a more open concept layout, open air seating, no walls, etc. where visitors can feel safer at a distance instead of huddled in crowded spaces.

MARTIN: NAB has a number of protocols to keep exhibitors and visitors safe and Dielectric will follow these as well as adapt to any changes.

BABB: There’s really no substitute for the excitement of face-to-face conversation and camaraderie around shared experiences. All that said, we’re monitoring the situation very closely with regards to COVID-19 and will adhere to any and all guidance from the CDC and show organizers on how best to keep our team and visitors to the booth safe.

TVT: Any other comments you’d like to share?

MURRAY: We will get through this. We’re a resilient people working in a resilient industry. People depend on our industry for information and entertainment, which has been all the more critical during the pandemic. We’re motivated to keep business moving forward and rise to the challenges in front of us. There is still light at the end of the tunnel, despite some recent setbacks.

MUSGRAVE: We're just so happy to be attending NAB Show again and sharing our new technology with those who have the greatest stake in the business. For anyone who doesn’t make it in person, for whatever the reason, we can connect virtually.

BABB: There’s really no substitute for the excitement of face-to-face conversation and camaraderie around shared experiences. All that said, we’re monitoring the situation very closely with regards to COVID-19 and will adhere to any and all guidance from the CDC and show organizers on how best to keep our team and visitors to the booth safe.

BETTENCOURT: We are very excited to finally be able to present our new brand in a major trade show environment. Our totally redesigned booth reflects the new, modern “dark look” user interfaces of our products. Of course, the entire Chyron team is committed to the well-being of our clients. Staff is fully vaccinated and will have masks on hand for meetings where they may be needed. Hand sanitizer will be available on the booth and any devices, such as mouse and keyboard, that may be touched by visitors will be wiped and sanitized throughout each day of the show. Ariel Garcia, president and CEO added to Bettencourt’s comments saying, “I took over as CEO at the last IBC, in 2019. At the time, I did not know how much things would change. Since then, I have met with many of our customers on Zoom. In fact, many of them now know my kids, by name, from our calls. But it will be wonderful to finally have the opportunity to meet many of them in person.”