Every year, the world gathers at the National Association of Broadcasters show in April to make major new product announcements, peddle their ‘wares and hob nob with celebrities in the broadcasting world. From software specific training to forecasting of future trends, NAB has it all. There was technology for industries in all fields of tech, with gadgets and accessories galore, but I was focused on finding the tech that would further my understanding as a videographer and editor specifically.
A lot of the hubbub was at Blackmagic Designs booth with the release of a new 4K production cameras nobody saw coming. It has lots of bells and whistles and features that come in only high-end camera models for just a fraction of the price. The Blackmagic URSA was the talk of the town.
Another big competitor entering the market is from AJA, a well known maker of camera peripheries, external recorders, broadcast level switchers and pro-grade computer hardware. They too had released a new camera called the CION, giving the big dogs like Red and Arri some competition at a much lower price point. Of course, we can only wait to see if the hype lives up to the name after the cameras ship later this year.
I also attended a couple of “super sessions”, the first featured a panel of broadcast executives that discussed consumer trends and the future of consumer TV technology. There was in depth discussions on how they see the immersion of 4K technology influencing the consumer market. Some of the big trends seem to be curved screens, interactive TVs with personalized content, cord cutting, cloud storage and streaming to personal devices, and home projectors.
Another important topic was preserving, retrieving and protecting your digital assets. The moderator discussed data deletion and mobile access to stored content. Being able to access, use, and manage your data translates to efficiency. This of course means money! This session was more on the why you should keep an archive, less of a how to archive. The term archive is a bit of a misnomer since archive implies putting something away on a shelf to get dusty. Sometimes archives are full primary content that needs to be access frequently. I know that this rings true for Untold, as we frequently visit old projects for our clients. Other key points included keeping things organized and accessible from the start, building in a search function to go back and find files outside of specific software applications, and perhaps most importantly, choose an archive method that makes sense from a business standpoint.
Reps from tech giants like IMAX and Canon also took the stage. Their discussion focused on the evolution of entertainment technologies, and how streaming internet services and convenience is changing the traditional theater business and 4K broadcast to the home. My favorite quote of the discussion was when Barry Sandrew, founder and CCO/CTO at Legend3D (one of the pioneers of the digital coloring process) apologized in his introduction for working with Ted Turner to, “destroy our film heritage”. His company now does most of the stereoscopic 3D processing for a majority of Hollywood films, and thus a majority of this panel discussion segued to topics concerning the 3D experience, its failures in the home theater, and the success of the technology in today’s cinemas.
And the future? 8K! NHK was showcasing 8K content at a massive screen on at the NAB Labs area, and as new infrastructure is laid to widen the transport pipeline, we won’t only see the number of pixels grow, we are going to see the quality of those pixels improve as well as new standards are put in place to standardized better color gamuts, and higher quality compression techniques.