Spratling declares NAB-HD a success

NAB-HD, the model high-definition station at NAB2006 in Las Vegas last week, accomplished nearly every goal its creator and organizer Nigel Spratling set out to achieve, save one: distribution to the HD-equipped Wynn Hotel.

Other than that, based on feedback from viewers and participants, Spratling, who also is president of Mavens Television Industry Consultants, declared the effort a complete success. “I’m just totally blown away by what we’ve been able to do,” he said.

With more than $6.5 million in donated equipment and 50 U.S. and international students who volunteered to help keep NAB-HD on the air for four days during the convention, the model station located at the back of the Las Vegas Convention Center Central Hall pumped out over-the-air HD and fed a variety of HD and SD channels throughout the convention center, to Las Vegas hotels, and to viewers nationally via satellite and worldwide over the Internet.

2006 was the second year for NAB-HD as well as Spratling’s second organizing the effort. Compared to last year, NAB-HD performed “perfectly,” he said. “This year we managed to get pretty much everything to air when we wanted to do it, so that’s the real change over and it’s because I had really made some mistakes when building the system last year,” he said. “I thought I could do things in a certain way which would allow it to work quickly, and I was wrong — bottom line. We made it work. It worked fine, and everybody was happy. But last year I was totally unhappy.”

“I thought ‘Jeez, I must never do that again.’ So this year we didn’t do that again, and we’ve had a tremendous response from everybody.”

Spratling identified a problem with HD file format interchangeability while running NAB-HD. “The real problem came when we went to edit stuff because the formats are all different,” he said.

Because they were different, NAB-HD editors were unable to swap files around backwards and forwards.

“It’s not very well-discussed at the moment. HDV, yes, we know the JVC 720 and the other one is 1080. We know there are those differences,” he explained. “But if you actually have to really consider the differences of file transfers — how you manage and manipulate those files in your system to enable you to do things quickly —otherwise you end up having to render. If you have to render then you are in big trouble if you want to do something quickly.”

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