GV Expo & National Drone Show Draws Crowds, Promotes Technology

WASHINGTON—The 2016 Government Video Expo & National Drone Show was held Dec. 6-8, with the first day (Dec. 6) set aside exclusively for the DC Post Production Conference, a series of training in various video specialties. The exhibition floor opened up on Wednesday, Dec. 7, and the show did not disappoint.

Attendees quickly filled the exhibition hall once the show opened.

With attendee registrations up some 20 percent this year, the exhibition floor quickly filled with people from inside and outside government looking for ideas and a first-hand look at popular industry products.

One such looker was Amy Carter from the St. Mary’s County (Md.) Government Video Channel, who stopped at the Panasonic booth to examine the cameras. Although she said that St. Mary’s County is not ready to commit to an all 4K studio, she is expected to know what’s out there and be ready to move on new gear when funds become available.

“I’m here to look around and see what to dream about,” she said. “We’re a taxpayer-funded organization, so funds are always scarce, but you always have to be ready to think about the future.”

After being at the Expo for only a short time, Carter looked around with some surprise.

“I’m a little overwhelmed,” she said.


Industry training was a draw for some in the area. One who found it worthwhile was Kelsey Brannan, a video specialist with the U.S. State Department.

“I was here for the Post Production Conference,” she said, “as well as seeing some of the vendors here at the Expo. I’m also interested in the drones because I want to get one for myself to get some nice aerial shots.”

Brannan attended the “Mastering Adobe Premiere Pro” session during the DC Post Production Conference, which was spread over all three days of the Expo. She also visited the Ikan and DeWolfe Music booths, and said she was looking at a variety of disk drive solutions on the show floor.

The National Drone Show is major part of the Expo, and it drew attentive crowds at both the drone flying cage and the Drone Show Theater. Presentations were given at both locations, and the Drone Show Theater also featured the winning films in the DC Drone Film Festival.

GV Expo partners with the Federal Government Distance Learning Association, which gives out its annual awards for excellence at the event. Among several awards handed out, the FGDLA gave its Hall of Fame Award to Kenneth Pisel, satellite program manager for the Joint Forces Staff College at National Defense University.

David Brigham (center) and Michael Polizzi (right) from Epsilon Systems, take a closer look at the Blackmagic Design Studio Camera.

A long list of vendors showed a wide variety of products on the show floor. Some of the overarching product trends include 4K video, leaps in wireless communications to support emergency video, increased storage density particularly for archiving, and the explosion of video production tools enabled by both smaller cameras and LED lighting devices.

Major camera vendors such as Panasonic, Blackmagic Design, JVC and Canon had their own busy booths, where they showed the latest in 4K cameras. Sony and Hitachi also had a presence within the large CEI booth.

David Brigham, a videographer with Epsilon Systems, researched cameras at Blackmagic Design’s booth. His company works on a variety of projects, including training videos for the U.S. Navy, and he described his specific needs for cameras—some of which buck the trend in ever-greater connectivity options.

“We need something that does not have Wi-Fi,” Brigham said, noting that signal security is a top priority on Navy jobs.


There were other companies with interesting cameras, too. Teradek showed off its new “Sphere” 2D 360-degree live camera streaming system, which is controlled by a tablet or touchscreen, allowing the user to pan and tilt the camera completely around to give the ultimate panorama view. Jon Landman, Teradek’s sales vice president, said that three 4K versions of the system will be used at the upcoming presidential inauguration, giving viewers multiple 360-degree views of the proceedings.

Brian Slanger from Zoom It Films checks out a camera fitted with Teradek’s Cube and Beam TX wireless video system.

Amazing versatility in camera-support equipment is a recent industry trend displayed at the show. For example, Alzo Video showed its “Smoothy,” a camera slider that can be oriented in either a straight line or in a radius curve. New for the Smoothy is a motor that moves along the track and reverses automatically when it encounters a movable magnet.

Most people in the video industry will tell you that getting good audio can be harder than getting good video. Advancements in audio, such as the Sennheiser SpeechLine Ceiling Microphone Array, drew interested visitors to the Sennheiser booth. Consisting of 29 microphone elements and advanced aural processing in a 24x24-inch panel, the SL Ceiling Mic uses beamforming technology to focus the sound on a speaker in a room up to 600 square feet in size.

Another trend in technology is wireless systems to transport video from the street to command centers and studios. (One of these was discussed at length in the keynote talk delivered by Timothy Herlocker, director of the New York City Fire Departmentʼs Emergency Operations Center.) Vendors such as JVC and Teradek showed their solutions for wireless connectivity, including JVC’s system to provide temporary high-speed Wi-Fi at the scene of an emergency.


The GV Expo and the National Drone show both had an interesting slate of speakers that addressed sometimes overflow crowds in the Government Video Theater. Presentations kicked off with the always-popular TIVA (Television, Internet & Video Association of DC) offering, whose session this year discussed the “Rise of the Drones.” It was a perfect way to start the show.

The podium in the Government Video Theater stayed busy for the next two days with interesting presentations from Renard Jenkins, vice president of operations for PBS; Robert Kennedy, president and co-CEO of C-SPAN; Gail McCabe, war correspondent and executive director of CreativeMediaMatters; Herlocker; Rodney Grubbs, imaging expert for NASA; and Lisa Ellman, drone law expert with Hogan Lovells. Interspersed between these presentations were talks on drones from a variety of experts, notably Fred Bivetto, dean of the School of Unmanned Technology.


Reaction to the show from attendees and exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive.

“We get a lot of good visitors here at the show,” said Drew Henderson, CEO of Alzo Video, a Bethel, Conn.-based manufacturer of camera support equipment.

Laurence Means (left) of Citimarketing Group gets product information from Brendan Kilroy of Erector Sets.

One attendee raved about how he looked forward to the show so that he could see and touch the equipment, something that was happening a lot on the floor.

There was plenty to see and do during the two days that the GV Expo exhibition floor was open. With a new president being inaugurated in a few weeks, there is some uncertainty in the air in Washington. However, the Government Video Expo & National Drone show was about as close to a sure thing for the attendees and exhibitors.

Note that next year, the Government Video Expo & National Drone Show will be a little earlier than usual. Although it has traditionally been held during the first week in December, in 2017 the show will be at the very end of November.

Bob Kovacs

Bob Kovacs is the former Technology Editor for TV Tech and editor of Government Video. He is a long-time video engineer and writer, who now works as a video producer for a government agency. In 2020, Kovacs won several awards as the editor and co-producer of the short film "Rendezvous."