No one goes to an event like the annual NAB Show without doing their homework first. As the show expands its umbrella to cover more advanced media technologies, the need to prepare becomes ever more crucial. Whatever your taste, TV Tech’s experts are here to help; here’s their advice for 2018:
KARL PAULSEN Storage Technology
Standout trends will likely center on evolving workflows in cloud-based solutions and emerging applications for IP infrastructures. This is the first NAB since the adoption of new SMPTE ST 2110 standards for Professional Media Networks so don’t miss the IP Showcase (in the rear of Central Hall) where working examples of the new standards plus integration of the NMOS interface specifications will be shown in an educational showcase environment. Potential IP adopters will be looking at how manufacturers address software defined networking and new tools aimed at diagnostics and operational management for IP implementations.
The enormous prominence of virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence and machine learning at the Consumer Electronics Show will be evident at NAB. Expect to see evolving products necessary to support the industry’s mandate to create, manage and deliver content to these emerging platforms. eSports is now attracting inventive players and changing production techniques that may show promise for aspiring venues.
The continual industry churn of what is now Belden’s growing empire should attract users to see what new products they collectively offer. Everyone is curious how the combined companies of Grass Valley and Snell Advance Media will address the changes in infrastructures that appear to be moving away from pure hardware and into virtualized, software-based environments. We’ll see what comes out of these mergers and acquisitions—and who will be next in line.
JULIA SWAIN Lighting Technology
The 2018 NAB Show promises to be a big one! Excited to see more lighting units capable of RGB and DMX, which so many of us have been utilizing more and more on set. Being able to move so quickly between colors and qualities of light has opened up a lot of possibilities. I’m very much hoping for LEDs with great outputs as well. The climb toward stronger, more versatile LED units has been an exciting and consistent one, so I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings in the world of lighting.
On the camera side, I anticipate some new monitor options with a gamut of exposure tools. Lots of apps to control and learn camera settings are also on the horizon.
AL KOVALICK Cloudspotters Journal
Look for all things cloud including SaaS apps for your daily operations. Don’t settle for installed apps unless there is a performance need. Ask vendors what their cloud strategy is, including what clouds they support for media services, apps and processing. Go to NAB with a list of “cloud questions” for your preferred vendors specifically around hybrid cloud local operations integrated with cloud services. Understand there is a place for local services but these are being eclipsed by cloud operations. Understand what mix will work best for your facility. Expect to use one or more clouds to meet your business needs. This multicloud approach will give you more flexibility for business operations. Look for 24x7 cloud support and operational services possibly from specialty companies.
JAY YEARY Focus On Audio
This is the year where we really start to grasp the full scope of the changes that IP-enabled technologies are bringing to television, from ingest all the way to delivery. HD-SDI video and discrete audio chains will see fewer implementations as they are passed over for IP-based alternatives, even though the road to an all-IP facility remains a bumpy one. With ATSC 3.0 now rolling out in the U.S., IP is now a reality for new and remodeled television facilities.
In audio, we’ll certainly see an increasing number of personalization options for consumers, along with products for immersive audio that are designed to be shoehorned into residential environments. At least for now however, it looks like personalization, whether mono, stereo, or emulated surround, has piqued the interest of the end user more than additional surround channels in the living room. This could change if the costs of immersive audio products for the consumer become a little more accessible. The preference for personalization is partly VR-driven but is really a continued outgrowth of the de-cades-old personal device boom—which is likely to continue with or without a VR element.
User interfaces for Next Gen technologies are particularly worthy of scrutiny this year, since presenting complicated options in an easy-to-understand package is an art form that will make the difference between success and failure for some products. Finally, anyone hoping to stretch out their use of 600 MHz wireless devices appears to be out of luck now that T-Mobile has accelerated their rollout.
CRAIG JOHNSTON Correspondent
We’ll see the rollout of ready to use 4K and some 8K camera systems. These new cameras have spawned attendant equipment such as enhanced lenses and high bit rate signal transmission equipment.
A whole host of 360 degree virtual reality camera systems and stitching software will be presented. An Immersive Storytelling Pavilion will help newcomers to 360 degree technology figure out how it will fit into their business.
Look for cellular liveshot gear that is futureproofed by including 5G capabilities, even though 5G at present is a small blip on the cellular radar.
And speaking of futureproofing, a lot of black boxes being bought at the show will have IP connectors on them, even though they will initially be connected via coaxial and fiber optic cable.