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Mobility, Format and Security

Tackling the big questions at the NAB Super Sessions


NAB Super Sessions are the organization's response to the show attendees' quest for "a concise way of finding out about the new technologies," said John Marino, NAB vice president of science and technology.

"We're talking about a lot of mobile technologies this year--competition to broadcasters; how broadcasters might use them," he said.


Mobility has made its way into at least two of the Super Session titles, but security and formats seem to loom larger on the agenda.

Hewlett-Packard's chief strategy and technology officer, Shane Robison, will kick off the sessions at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, April 18, with "Convergence and Content on the Move: Riding the Digital, Mobile, Virtual and Personal Wave."

"The message I hope the audience takes away from the session is that information technology will help shape the future of the media and entertainment industry," Robison said. "We need to securely manage the buying, selling, licensing and, importantly, the digital rights management for all content that moves across wireless networks, IP networks and traditional switched networks."

On Tuesday, April 19 at 10:15 a.m., Steve Saylor, vice president of digital video and audio for Adobe Systems, will keynote "Video--The Next Wave in Publishing."

Tuesday at 2 p.m., CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein will start a session on "IPTV--The Technology and Market Outlook."

At 3:45 p.m., Avid president and chief executive officer, David Krall, will begin a forum called "Look Before You Leap--The Dollars & Sense of Transitioning to HD."

Given the proliferation of formats to produce content and deliver it to consumers, Krall insists that producers and distributors must question tradeoffs and choices. The questions start at acquisition, and travel all the way down the workflow pipeline.

In fact, HD may easily require a "wholesale turnover" of a company's infrastructure as players "grapple with the fact that HD is six times the bandwidth of standard definition," he said.


Krall's intention is to illustrate just what happens to content as it goes through multiple compression cycles, and to have all the members on the panel "share problems that we run into."

The panel will include representatives from Gannett, the BBC and post houses from both coasts.

"There are good solutions out there for people to use to solve their problems," he said. "All the bits and pieces are out there today, you just need to put them together in a coherent fashion."

On Wednesday, April 20 at 10:15 a.m., Mark Cuban, president of HDnet, will speak about high-definition programming, noting, "HDTV will evolve to places people don't expect."

At press time he did not specify what these places were, except to indicate that mobile devices would not be on his agenda.

Filling in the gap right after his speech will be Allison Dollar, chief executive officer of the Interactive Television Alliance. She will host a panel called "Taking It to the Streets: Mobile Devices Add Drama to Sports & Reality Programming."

The "credible brand-name sports, agency and technology" panelists will discuss the outlook for TV content accessed by phone, PDA, mall kiosks, airplane and hotel receivers and networked home appliances, she said.

The Super Sessions will conclude Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., with Ken Williams, chief executive officer at Ascent Media, on "New Technologies for Digital Media." His focus will be digital rights management, specifically an analysis of the elements used by particular companies to safeguard content distribution.

"There's been real progress, especially on the B-to-B side," Williams said. "But with the end distribution channels, there's still a lot of work to be done."

His goal is to go beyond the conceptual, examining real-world examples, both in his speech and in discussion with fellow panelists including Tony Beswick, Sony Pictures Entertainment vice president of technology and operations. Hopefully, the speech and panel will lead to "a spirited debate about what really needs to get fixed," Williams said.