23rd annual DC event covered the latest trends in IP, AI, 4K and security
GV Expo 2018

WASHINGTON—The Government Video Expo, held Nov. 27-29, has an image of the U.S. Capitol building in its logo, but the reality on the floor is bigger than one building or just the federal government market alone. Indeed, a glance at attendee show badges on the exhibition floor or at the conference shows an eclectic mix of media professionals from many arenas.

While attendees included personnel from local, state and federal governments and all the agencies and contractors within that leviathan, this base was joined by representatives from state and local emergency personnel, defense-related contractors, educational institutions, houses of worship, and plenty of regional production types and broadcasters.

The conference schedule also reflected this. While many presentations and speakers were quite government-specific, broader topics such as live streaming, LED lighting advancements, SMPTE 2110, and high dynamic range video appealed to many modern media professionals.

TOPICS AND TRENDS

SMPTE sponsored an all-day event covering the ST-2110 standard. 

SMPTE sponsored an all-day event covering the ST-2110 standard. 

The SMPTE ST 2110 Professional Media Over Managed IP Networks suite of standards has been the hot topic at trade shows of late, and it was on the minds of many at GV Expo. The importance of the new standard was reflected in the addition of the day-long SMPTE in DC: Essential Technology Advances for Media Pros Conference, which attracted a number of local broadcast and media professionals eager to dig deep into the implications of IP on their media operations.

On the exhibit floor, the big buzz words were 4K, UHD and IPTV, according to Tommy Goodson, president of AudioVideo BrandBuilder (AVBB) Corp. “What we’re hearing at this show in particular is a lot about IPTV, with 2110 on the agenda … everybody who has come by is preparing for 2110.”

AVBB—a master distributor and manufacturer rep primarily for test and measurement specialist Phabrix and streaming company Teracue—said it was seeing great interest in the 2110-friendly Phabrix line, including the Sx-TAG model and the Qx IP, a fully flexible 2110 rasterizer.

Also popular was Teracue’s iCUE Grid Video Wall, is an IP Video Wall Presenter for multiple content sources within the video wall. It allows complete on-the-fly control over visualized live and/or on-demand content in any resolution.

AR/VR was present on the exhibition floor within products and at the conference, but the technology is a bit less in-your-face at trade shows now. The same can be said for artificial intelligence, which also had a decent presence on the conference schedule, but was not plastered on every booth on the exhibition floor as has been seen at events over the last few years. This may reflect the technology maturation, as AI or AR/VR are now established products or part of established products.

Quantum showcased its Stornext platform at the show. 

Quantum showcased its Stornext platform at the show. 

An example is Quantum’s StorNext media workflow file system. More than a year ago the company had announced it would offer Veritone Inc.'s multi-engine AI platform in a StorNext-managed environment. At GV Expo, the incorporation was a reality and AI is now just part of an overall system. There were no flashy robots on display representing the brave new world of AI, but representatives from Veritone did attend Day One of the show.

StorNext has applications across broadcast, security, defense and other environments that generate lots of data that needs to be evaluated and used. NewTek’s Tricaster multicamera production system also has a broad range of applications. It was on show at the booth of Washington Professional Systems, a dealer/integrator from nearby Wheaton, Md., that is also a NewTek Elite Dealer selling the systems across several market areas.

Washington Professional Systems demonstrated products from a range of companies including NewTek and Christie. 

Washington Professional Systems demonstrated products from a range of companies including NewTek and Christie. 

“The Tricaster product line is versatile enough that it is not just a broadcast switcher, there is so much more under the hood that allows it to be used in many AV environments,” said Jeremy Morris, Sr. Engineer & Certified Tricaster Operator with WPS. WPS’s booth also demonstrated products from Crestron, Christie and others.

WPS also had Sony broadcast and robotic cameras on hand, but the media world has seen a merging of the consumer and professional areas over the last several decades, so it makes sense that Sony had its own consumer electronics presence at the show as well. Highlights at this stand included still cameras capable of shooting some impressive video, and high end consumer camcorders such as the FS5 Mk II and the FS7 Mk II, both of which can shoot in 4K.

Sony professional cameras, along with units from Hitachi and JVC, were also present at the large, central booth of Digital Video Group (DVG), a supplier and system integrator of broadcast and production systems.

Alex Martin, DVG CEO, said the company was looking to expand its government business with its offerings, which also included asset management and shared storage from Avid, bonded cellular transmission units from LiveU, and more. Martin said show trends that cut across customers included the real need for 4K and preparing for SMPTE 2110.

PRODUCTION AS BREAD AND BUTTER

Whatever the resolution of the video is, and whether it is sent around a facility as an SDI stream or as an IP packet, production needs will always include camera support and lighting. These needs were front-and-center at Vitec.

Vitec demonstrated its flowtech 75 carbon fiber tripod.

Vitec demonstrated its flowtech 75 carbon fiber tripod.

On display was the Vinten flowtech 75 set of two-stage carbon fiber tripod legs with a removable mid-level spreader, rubber feet, and a 44-pound payload. This established unit was joined by the flowtech 100, which was only launched a few months ago. Compatible with all major 100 mm fluid heads, flowtech100 supports a payload of up to 66 pounds, making it ideal for heavy-duty ENG/EFP and a wide range of wildlife, commercial, and documentary productions.

Joseph Teodosio, Training & Product Specialist for Vitec, said the first day of the show drew a nice mix of local TV stations, government and military and house of worship (HOW) customers: “The LitePanels Gemini has been a real draw with its very high quality light, and the new flowtech 100 is also attracting people.”

Greg Smalfelt, senior cable television engineer, Communications Production Division, and Josh Bass, cable TV engineer, both with Fairfax County, Va.’s Channel 16, came to see the 100. “We’re an existing customer but we wanted to see the 100 for our bigger cameras, and get some questions answered,” said Smalfelt.

Panasonic was also out in force with a range of production kit for needs ranging from broadcast to HOW to government video entities. The AU-EVA1 compact cinema camera and a new class of PTZ remote cameras and controllers capable of operating in 4K 60 and 50p were joined by the AV-HLC100 small switcher, which is capable of direct streaming to YouTube or Facebook Live.

Smaller scale routing and switching needs were also key at AJA, where the company’s affordable Kumo routers and KiPro Ultra+ recorders were on display. Eastern region territory manager for AJA Dan Wingard said the duo were perfect for many of the potential customers walking the aisles. “We see everything from Federal, state and local government people through to community colleges, really a little bit of everything,” said Wingard.

Barbizon demoed its latest LED lights at the show. 

Barbizon demoed its latest LED lights at the show. 

Barbizon, a distributor of lighting, rigging, projection kit and more, said there was a lot going on in the world of LEDs in 2018. One of the big things this year is that a lot of the LEDs are now IP-rated, which has nothing to do with packets of data but is a measure of the protection an item will have against solid objects (dust, sand, dirt, etc.) and liquids, according to Kearston Dillard-Scott, Outside Sales representative for Barbizon. “Variety is also a trend,” said Dillard-Scott. “Many of the fixtures that were bi-color just from warm to cool can now do full RGB.”

Project Manager for Barbizon Sam Herbig added that the quality of an LED fixture’s light was increasing, and consistency within a product line has greatly improved from a few years ago: “It’s boring, but for anyone lighting to a level it is important,” said Herbig.

IP packets play a large role in an interesting product from Comrex that was on display, and due for shipping before year-end after being launched at the 2018 NAB Show: The VoIP-based Earshot IFB. The hardware-based system delivers live audio feeds to callers and is designed to provide telephone-based live studio program and IFB audio to field-based remote broadcasts, like TV ENG reports or in other applications.

Comrex also had an app called “FieldTap,” which allows a user to connect to Comrex codecs in studio from a cellphone with high-quality wideband audio.

Chris Crump, Comrex

Chris Crump, Comrex

According to Chris Crump, senior director of sales and marketing for the Devens, Mass.-based company, the Comrex LiveShot Portable IP video codec for live wireless newsgathering are in use across government sectors, particularly emergency management and security entities, along with community broadcasters. LiveShot delivers live, two-way, HD video and audio over a range of IP and cellular networks at latencies as low as less than 200mS, he said.

MISSION CRITICAL

Many government and defense video applications are defined as “mission critical,” a niche Oregon-based Planar covers with its narrow pixel pitch direct view LED and LCD panels. “These are purpose-built for mission-critical and mission-command applications, with higher image quality for indoor applications," said Alberto Reyes, director of federal business development for Planar. “We’re now finding other applications as well, any discerning 24/7/365 application in a signage environment really.”

Advances in projection display were evident at the booth of Christie Digital Systems.

“We’re trying to take a leadership position on RGB laser phosphor technology, said Jon Litt, senior manager, Business Development, Government, for Christie. “We’re also trying to bring it to a price point where it would work for more applications.”

Christie showcased advances in display technology.

Christie showcased advances in display technology.

Litt said the technology offered tremendous image fidelity, quiet operation, and the ability to run for years with little or no maintenance. Longevity is also a key selling point for the company’s DirectView LED screens, which Litt said had an expected lifespan of 100,000 hours or more while offering exceptional contrast.

HIGH SECURITY CAPTIONING

Captioning is often a government requirement and EEG has been offering encoders that connect broadcasters to iCap, the largest closed captioning and subtitle delivery network in the world, according to the company. While iCap provides 24/7/365 connectivity to thousands of certified caption partners around the globe, new at GV Expo was an option that allows customers to connect to an iCap network via a private VPN, with no public internet connection as part of the process.

Dave Watts with EEG chats with a GV Expo attendee about the company's captioning products. 

Dave Watts with EEG chats with a GV Expo attendee about the company's captioning products. 

“Some customers don’t want any public internet as part of the network, and now that is an option with iCap On-Prem,” said Dave Watts, marketing manager for EEG. iCap On-Prem is a companion product to EEG’s cloud-based delivery network, and it enables the deployment of iCap to private on-premises clouds for customers who require this configuration to accommodate extremely stringent internal security policies. Also on display was an automatic captioning product that relies on Ai and context recognition, and a SMPTE 2110 product.

Security was also key for IBM Watson Media, the end-to-end streaming platform formerly known as UStream: The tagline on the product’s data sheet is “Engage your employees with security-rich video.”

S. Scott Grizzle, WW Cloud Video Solutions Engineer with Watson, said the use cases between a broadcast customer and an enterprise or government customer were different, but there was a lot of crossover. He added that many customers across product sectors were become increasingly interested in video enrichment, where software can identify elements such as scenes, people, animals, etc. and place this information in to metadata.

Equipment aimed at consumers can do a lot of what many media pros need done in 2018. It is perhaps with this in mind that show organizer Future US just announced the launch of The Video Show, a new dual-event venture for December, 2019. The Video Show will pair The Photography Show, now an established U.K.-based event, with the iconic Government Video Expo, which celebrated its 23rd edition this year. 

The event takes place Dec. 3-5, 2019 at the Washington Convention Center.