By George Harding
I attended the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas. It was very interesting and although there was a lot that was over my head, there was a lot that I was able to understand. This conference is aimed at those companies that provide goods and services to broadcasters of every type: TV, radio, service providers, photographers, video makers, gaming and more. It attracted over 98,000 attendees! Here are some of those whose booths I visited.
Showstoppers provided a number of vendors of various types. One that was unique and was not of the broadcast type was Elio Motors. The product is a 3-wheeled car, 2 wheels in front, one in back. The list price is $6,800, which includes A/C, power windows and locks, Am/Fm radio, seats two and has a 3 year/36,000 warranty. Look at eliomotors.com to see it.
Another interesting product was the DJI Phantom, a drone-type instrument with camera attached. It is controlled by a controller to direct the Phantom’s direction and altitude, as well as the direction and attitude of the camera. The camera has resolution up to 1080p with 30 frames per second and 14 megapixel capability. The controller has an attached screen to keep track of current flight telemetry. The video can be sent directly to your phone by Wi-Fi, with no intermediary unit involved. Price from $479. See dji.com
LaCie introduced three new Thunderbolt storage devices, designed to be used in a RAID array: the 8big, up to 48 TB; the 5big, up to 30 TB; and the 2big, up to 12 TB.
HP introduced two new Dreamcolor monitors, each with extreme resolution. The price is half that of the prior models. Each has 10-bit color, enhanced internally to 14-bit capability. Each can be calibrated directly through the monitor, without additional equipment. Each also supports 4K input. See
I was surprised to see how many ways there are to light a subject, how many ways to capture video and how many ways to display the result. The accompanying photos show some of these.
There was a Russian fighter jet on display at NAB, which had nothing to do with broadcasting, but as a pilot, I was very interested in the airplane. I had an opportunity to get into the cockpit. A fairly steep ladder led from ground to cockpit, then I had to squeeze into the narrow space. The jet was built to accommodate a 5’ 6” pilot. My 6’2” didn’t fit very well. Once in the cockpit, the panel array looked very familiar. The pilots fly to various events and perform. They are all volunteers!
One very interesting panel presentation brought together 5 of the people who worked on the unique details of the movie Gravity. Each brought some special experience to development of this ground-breaking movie.
There were a number of keynotes, some of which talked about TV success stories, others about challenges ahead. One significant challenge is the increased bandwidth that will be required due to video streaming. The dramatic increase in this method of viewing shows and events that would in the past have been presented on television sets has made several changes to be made by broadcasters and other providers.
One solution is to increase the channel capability, which has a significant price attached to it from Internet costs to required improvements in hardware/software . Another solution is to decrease the size of the video being streamed by improved compression algorithms. Compression implies loss of one sort or another, so the challenge is to decrease signal size by compression without increased signal loss.
CES2014 had many products capable of showing 4K video (aka Ultra HD), but at that time there were few sources of 4K content. Today, however, there are many such sources and, as with the change from LPs to CDs, the dramatic improvement in quality warrants the extra expense to display such content. Responding to this need, many vendors at NAB had products capable of creating 4K content, others capable of displaying it. Here’s one vendors solution: Supermicro® Real Time Computing and Visualization Solutions for Broadcast Media and UHD 4K/8K.