NAB – three short letters. Three sprawling wings of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Over 2,000,000 square feet of exhibit space (plus conference rooms, hospitality suites, and outdoor displays), 1,500 vendors, and precious few hours available to cover it all. Where to start? I had only two days. Plus, I needed to write this… yet another recap of a heavily press-covered show. How would I see it all? What new, exciting, must see items would I totally miss – cheating myself and you out of enlightening insights into the latest from the world of broadcasting? I decided to try something new and chuck my typical trade show approach that works well in smaller venues with more time.
First up – take care of the critical business. I scheduled to see the essential people and vendors on day one. Panasonic had a great showing with new Varicams – both a 4K version and a high speed version for sports. The new AG-PX270 handheld AVC-Ultra camera and AV-HS6000 2M/E switcher were both well received. The price to feature and quality ratios should make these huge hits. Next up, conduct product demos for clients, then to the lens manufacturers and Teredek to see the new streaming products for Panasonic’s broadcast line. From there, hit the floor running.
I usually take a structured approach to trade shows, but in this case, recognizing the impossibility of seeing everything led me to introduce an element of randomness. I had targeted manufacturers, but I also I decided to leave some time to roam and see what caught my eye. In addition, I tried to spend time in technology areas that were totally foreign to me – just to broaden my awareness. I’m glad I took this approach as it opened my eyes to a number of elements I would have missed.
So what trends seem to be prevalent at the show? From my vantage point the following items really jumped out
- IP based signal distribution and workflows have progressed substantially in the last year
- Single cable 4K transport seems to have taken leaps forward
- Lower power requirements, along with feature and quality advances in portable equipment across the spectrum of technologies will make run-and-gun shooting and remote projects easier
In contrast, there were some vendors touting the latest, greatest, up and coming technology by showing the same items as last year. Particularly when it came to pushing resolutions higher than 4K.
One entertaining moment was being asked if I thought 4K will go the way of 3D. Then I saw the badge holder indicated “Member –Flat Earth Society”. Speaking of 3D… autoscopic 3D displays looked like they have advanced, some were actually pretty cool. But they are still not ready for prime time due to limited effective viewing areas. Scaled down versions for a single user on phones or tablets could function very well if 3D ever gains traction. Current trends do not make this likely.
Given the advances in IP-based signal distribution, it’s surprising that ClearOne did not have a presence at NAB. Their ViewStream products could be a good fit a production environment. While this is not their target market, the quality, flexibility, scalability, and network management features outshines much of what I saw at the show.
Covering the NAB show in two days – or even a week – is like being blind and describing an elephant.
Stay with me….
Imagine four visually impaired people who come in contact with an elephant for the first time. One grabs a leg, the second a tusk, another the trunk, and the last an ear. Imagine how different each of their descriptions would be…. “Fat and Rough”; “Skinny and Smooth”; “Skinny and Rough”; “Thin and floppy”. Each describes the beast from their limited vantage point. With NAB, there is so much to see and no way to see it all, that everyone’s experience is different. I’d like to hear your thoughts and perhaps open my eyes to what I missed.