NAB Wishlists Include 4K and IP Gear

LAS VEGAS—Is it those new, obscure miniature mics? Or that not-to- be-believed display of the 8Kresolution video shot over in Japan? From big to small, here’s a rundown of what the executives from some of biggest networks and production facilities across the nation will be looking at when they step on the NAB Show exhibit floor next week.

While he doesn’t have any major big-ticket items on his NAB Wish List, ESPN’s Chuck Pagano does have a big to-do project waiting for him back home: Outfitting a new 200,000-square-foot production facility called Digital Center 2 that’s being built in the network’s hometown of Bristol, Conn. So what’s on his radar? Behind-the-scenes stuff.

Chris Gargano of the San Francisco Giants
“We’re looking at infrastructure related to IPTV, and JPEG 2000 for production purposes,” said Pagano, the chief technology officer for ESPN. “We’ll be looking at disc storage again, because there’s always room for improvements” when it comes to storage and workflow. “We’re always looking at workflow technology.”

Likewise, 4K will be a major focus this year, as the network will be considering how to implement Ultra HD technology into the backroom “not only for doing native 4K but [continuing to do] HD using some 4K tools for dynamic zoom and scan and those kind of applications,” he said.

While 3D will be on the radar, it won’t be a major focus, Pagano added. “Things are happening in the 3D space, [and we’re tackling it] on an as-needed basis,” he said. ESPN will also be looking at audio/video bridging technologies as it relates to running an end-to-end digital network.

For ESPN, the best learning happens at NAB when you go “eyes open” and expect to find something new, Pagano said. The show “provides us the ability to sit there and really filter the BS out of the equation,” he said laughing. “Sometimes you get lucky and you get to talking to the actual engineer. What I do [appreciate] about the NAB is the incredibly large amount of data you’re getting dumped on you.”

NBC will undoubtedly have Olympics on the brain, as the network comes to NAB to mull and consider its broadcast plans for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February 2014. The network will need to set up broadcast facilities in two separate locales around this Black Sea resort—one near the mountain and one near the coast— covering hockey, snowboarding, figure skating and more. And then, of course, there’s the network’s new 300,000 square-foot International Broadcasting Center in Stamford, Conn., scheduled to open this summer. For NBC’s Darryl Jefferson, the recent Summer Games in London were about workflow: deploying an intuitive global asset management system and a file-based delivery mechanism to cover the hundreds of individual events that took place during the Summer Games.

Chuck Pagano of ESPN
“I’ll likely be looking for solutions that improve workflow, and that are expandable, such that a purchase today could equal flexibility in the years to come,” such as solutions that address IP multicast transport and metadata tracking, he said. Jefferson is the director of post production operations for NBC Olympics.

Resolving workflow issues is also a key interest for the San Francisco Giants baseball franchise.

Prepping for productions like the Super Bowl starts in April, when executives roam the NAB show floor looking for new technologies. For this Major League Baseball team, workflow begins with tapeless acquisition of content both from the live Giants games and pre-produced content, which in 2012 included 10 documentaries, 38 live streaming pre-game shows, 23 on-line short features and more than 100 in-park entertainment features, said the San Francisco Giants Production’s Chris Gargano, senior director of marketing and entertainment for the organization. The production team produces 81 Giants games each season, not including the pre- and post-seasons, with each games requiring several pre-produced features running during the inning breaks.

“I have attended NAB for many years and every year I try and take the same approach, which is to be open minded to all that NAB offers,” Gargano said. “For me, NAB is about developing and enhancing business relationships. These relationships can cultivate great purchases of technology but more importantly it’s about learning. I have learned a great deal about other workflows and equipment through just walking the floor.

“I have made key purchases of technology as a result of attending NAB, but I can really say that I have met great people that I have relied upon for years to help navigate the ever-changing technology that we all are fortunate to work with on a daily basis,” he said.

During tours of the show floor, Gargano will be looking at branding and graphics technologies. The organization currently uses Avid Interplay Assist to log, tag and search for media throughout the team’s production library. “This works well with the production of our documentaries and all of our on-line content which are more in-depth than our in-park features,” he said.

Susan Ashworth

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.