Putting the B Back in NAB
NAB 2012's theme, "The Great Content Shift: Defining Your Evolution," was meant to help everyone in the industry tackle the problem of a complete change in content -- from creation and management to delivery and uses beyond its original purpose. It definitely hit the mark!
First things first; here is what interested me at the Show this year, in no particular order (except for the Blue Ribbon Award, of course!)
BLUE-RIBBON AWARD: BEST EXHIBITOR
My personal pick for "Best Exhibitor" at NAB 2012 is Blackmagic Design -- but in the category of broadcasting. I know what you're thinking. Blackmagic Design as a post-production hardware/software manufacturer. That train of thought is derailed, however, when you consider their wealth of broadcast products -- high quality, easy-to-understand and affordable. This is why Blackmagic Design is my favorite!
Blackmagic Design ATEM 2M/E Broadcast Panel
The ATEM Production Switcher is the most advanced broadcast-grade production switcher in its price category. Seeing this switcher in action at the NAB Show was impressive. The built-in multi-viewer totally eliminates extra monitoring costs because all cameras, preview and program can be viewed on a single SDI or HDMI monitor. In addition, every ATEM production switcher includes professionally-designed control panel software for Mac and Windows that allows setting of all adjustments. It even has the kinds of premium quality switches, faders and joysticks that are normally found only on the most expensive switchers.
Teranex was Blackmagic's best acquisition yet. Loaded with functionality, Teranex broadcast format converters have a huge laundry list of uses in any broadcast facility. With the ability to convert from almost any television format to any other television format at the highest quality, broadcast masters can be instantly ready for worldwide distribution. Teranex's advanced SIMD technology is applied within the frame and between frames simultaneously, giving you superior de-interlacing, inter-frame interpolation and noise reduction during processing.
Before being acquired by Blackmagic Design, Teranex processors could cost US$90,000. Now, with the same conversion, but with better I/O options (including Thunderbolt), in a smaller, quieter design, is only US$3,995. Other Teranex models now begin at $1995. Click on image for larger view.
Teranex is so perfect for live production and can also be used for cleaning and converting content for authoring as well as video capture and playback for editing, design and effects with the built-in Thunderbolt port. It's multi-function for multi-purpose!
Blackmagic's Videohub family is different because it is designed for normal creative users to get up and running in seconds. It is the most versatile and complete routing connection solution that I know. With no electronic components on the motherboard, all electronics can be hot-swapped with replacements in case of failure, or when upgrading. It's as easy as it sounds!
The new Universal Videohub 72 is a fully scalable 3G/HD/SD and deck control routing switcher. Add either regular copper SDI or optical fiber SDI interface cards as you need. It ships unpopulated, without any cards plugged in, so you are free to build your router any way you want. Start at an affordable size, and then add more SDI interface cards over time to grow to a massive 288 x 288 size!
To that, the new Universal Videohub Editing Interface also adds four Thunderbolt ports in one card, so you can capture video directly to four computers with Thunderbolt technology.
Since it's not a broadcast camera, I'm skipping it here; but with their Cinema Camera, Blackmagic has truly crafted a masterpiece -- all part of the reason why I feel so strongly that Blackmagic Design deserves the Creative COW Blue Ribbon Award for Best Exhibitor.
DAM -- IT'S DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT!
Everyone knows that I am REALLY BIG on digital asset management (DAM). This is one of the most neglected technologies in both the post-production and broadcast worlds.
MaestroVision has been offering complete digital broadcast technology to satellite, digital TV, cable as well as to PEG cablecasters and IPTV broadcasters since 1998.
MaestroVision Asset Manager tracks media assets, and also manages workflow by analyzing network performance as it tracks files at multiple locations from a single site. It is compatible with Automation and MAM systems such as Harris, Omnibus, and others, and plugs directly into video servers from industry leaders including Omneon, Grass Valley, Leitch and Avid.
MaestroVision's Maitre D' suite. Click image for larger view.
Interface through a web browser and search, view, manage and monitor archived content from any desktop, wherever your assets are located; move content seamlessly between geographically-distant sites for global content sharing as well as disaster recovery needs without worrying about whether the format is correct. It scales infinitely simply by adding additional modules, and support is available 24/7.
MaestroVision Material Editor. Click image for larger view.
QC/COMPLIANCE: REMAIN CALM...
VidChecker is on duty! VidChecker is an amazing automatic program from VidCheck that safeguards CALM-Act compliance in the audio component of your content, and much more, earning it a Creative COW Blue Ribbon Award as one of NAB's best products.
VidCheck VidChecker. Click image for larger view.
VidChecker 4.0 was launched at NAB 2012, and not only checks the audio, but can also automatically correct to the ATSC A/85 RP (or the EBU modes). VidChecker also checks and corrects peak as well as loudness, and also PPM if selected. Video can ALSO be corrected! This includes black levels, luma, chroma, and a variety of color problems. The advanced video correction algorithms, (which are patent-pending) make auto-correction of file-based media practical for the first time, without giving the types of problems generated by 'legalizers,' which often introduced unacceptable degradation and artifacts into the video.
As superior as it is unique, this second generation auto-QC software is a Windows application for PCs and servers and is designed to take advantage of multi-core and multi-thread CPUs to maximize processing speed to remove the labor-intensive tasks of checking conformance by hand, or checking video/audio compliance with waveform monitors and audio loudness meters, or having to manually-correct levels with video processing amplifiers and other tools.
The software both checks and corrects the most common video and audio problems in file-based media, including camera formats, web media, MXF, ProRes, DNxHD -- even Adobe After Effects files!
The new version of VidChecker also includes support for Dolby-E audio; timecode continuity checking; enhanced syntax checking; enhanced checking for visual errors, such as blocks; ability for operators to record notes within VidChecker; (e.g. an operator can review the warnings found by VidChecker, make notes and then optionally change a result from "Warning" to "Pass" or any other status as appropriate with an audit trail); faster processing; UI enhancements and video "layout" (e.g. ignore the first x seconds of a file for video testing as this is just the bars and slate, not the real video).
All of this and more earns VidChecker its place on the Blue Ribbon stand.
SHAKEN AND STIRRED! FULL HD OVER CELLULAR DATA
With only the cost of your cellular data plan and no other contracts or recurring fees, Bond's innovative Adaptive Internet Streaming technology makes constant adjustments to the video bit rate and buffers in real time, adapting to a multitude of network conditions.
Weighing-in at less than 7 ounces, and about the size of a deck of ordinary playing cards and made from bullet-proof high-grade aluminum, this lightweight marvel gives anyone with adequate cellular coverage to go live from any location where there's service. It's so light that you may forget you even have it!
Used in combination with their award-winning Cube and powered via a LEMO cable connected to the encoder's DC input, Bond is conveniently bundled in several different packages that can meet the needs of most any locational shoot. Note that Bond requires a Teradek Cube encoder with USB connectivity; the Cube is NOT included with Bond unless purchased in a package.
NEWTEK TRICASTER 8000 GENRE TRAILBLAZER
Click image for larger view.
NewTek's TriCaster 8000 and control surface are proof positive that live video production has advanced into its own genre subset. Because programs that were once created for a one-time viewing on a single channel are now intended for multiple screens, content producers must be ready to answer the challenge for on-demand, online, and social media platforms for use by others whenever and wherever they desire.
The NewTek TriCaster 8000 offers a live, multi-platform social media publishing feature to boost your content strategy with integrated sharing, allowing you to publish to your host of social networks -- live -- keeping your brand consistent while engaging fans and followers instantly. You can broadcast, stream, publish, project and record -- all at the same time!
With a 24-channel switcher augmented by eight fully re-entrant M/E rows, it extends to external router support for large-scale, multi-camera production in native full-resolution HD, with eight channels of ISO recording up to 1080p and the ability to send live output to up to 1 to 14 different display destinations. And, with the world's most powerful integrated effects system, it can help create mind-blowing, custom-branded visual masterpieces.
BREATHTAKING, SCALABLE, UNMANNED BROADCAST SKY EYE
Another Blue Ribbon Award goes to the Dajiang Innovation Technology Co., Ltd (DJI) for their precision remote aerial camera platforms for broadcast, featuring the new Zenmuse Gimbal. Seeing it was -- how can I say it? -- breathtaking. Words do not convey the elegance these ultimate mobile cameras had as they rode the different layers of air stream! Graceful but exact maneuvering control.
Click image for larger view.
The DJI Innovations precision control system works on all kinds of helicopters, from bi-blade to multi-blade rotorcrafts, with or without flybar; various swash plates and rotor heads; electric or gasoline powered engines. Weighing-in at a mere 161 grams, compared to the more typical 650 grams, the improved algorithm provides exceptional scale-style flying characteristics that meets the highest requirements for commercial use in areas from industrial aerial photography to high-end military operations.
Because there is no involvement of multi-million dollar helicopters and the camera can be controlled independently of the aircraft, it can fly as low as four-inches off the ground! These units are a huge asset to broadcasters.
An HD live-streaming broadcast device that works without a computer?
You read the line correctly. Livestream Broadcaster is a technological marvel that can work independently of a computer on its own, using three AA batteries! Although it only works with the Livestream service -- a new platform that combines live video with real-time photos, text, and video clip updates -- it is available as either an ad-supported version or premium service, which is feature-packed and priced modestly.
Choose between Mobile, Normal, Medium, High and HD 720p (2.3Mbps) for the single bitrate encoding. On the horizon, however, is the possibility for a cloud transcoding service.
The Livestream Broadcaster can even be used as a desktop encoder connected to a multi-camera video production switcher, or as a battery-powered portable wireless encoder mounted to a camera that streams via Wi-Fi or a USB 3G/4G Wireless Modem.
Measuring only 4.8" x 3" x 1.25" thick, video is handled by the HDMI input, supporting HD 1080i/720p and SD 480i, and audio by a 3.5mm line-in input jack. Although there's not an HD-SDI version available, you can purchase a Blackmagic Design HDSDI to HDMI converter that allows the Broadcaster to be used as a desktop encoder.
Livestream's clients are among the biggest in the streaming business, including Facebook, The New York Times, ABC News, CBS News, Associated Press, HBO, AT&T, PepsiCo, Electronic Arts, Adidas, The Academy Awards, Warner Bros. Records, and Paramount Pictures.
AN UMBRELLA BOUNCE THAT CAN SERVE AS... AN UMBRELLA?
Finally, the Nori SquareBounce is a very cool light-reflection system. It's extremely portable and collapses into an umbrella-like package. Yes, it's a simple item for my "picks," but very practical for guys traveling to do shoots and/or be up and running quickly.
Industry professionals designed the SquareBounce simply, but with advanced architecture that features an 8-spoke reinforced design that allows the unit to remain stiff and rigid even in the worst weather. Because it's made from water-resistant material, Nori even touts this exceptional device as shelter in the rain or as a screen from the sun! What other lighting equipment has the ability to do that?
Boasting a reflecting surface of 3.5' x 3.5' (107cm x 107cm) or 60" (152.4cm) diagonal measure when open, the 5/8" diameter umbrella shaft fits on industry-standard c-stands and grip-heads. When used in combination, a white unit reflects a soft diffused light while the silver unit returns a specular hard light, offering a multitude of lighting possibilities.
So, there you have it! Know this -- NAB 2012 was a blast. I don't think I've ever had as much fun at an NAB show! I met with old friends and made many new ones, especially at Autodesk.
But this show is past, and we all look forward to the next, which should have available many of the items we saw as "new technology" at this show, and an entirely new batch of scientific marvels and processes we can drool over!