Show Unleashes Next-Generation Technology


NAB Show, while anchored by tradition, is driven by change. This year’s show will guide more than 100,000 registrants through some of the biggest trends facing the industry today; among them drone technology, virtual reality (VR), 4K adoption and OTT video delivery.

Alongside the information influx, which will come in the form of more than 760 sessions, more than a dozen conferences, in-the-field workshops and more than a million square feet of exhibit space, will be new technologies that push the boundaries of media and entertainment.

“The larger themes are tied to the continuing evolution of OTT and the digital content ecosystem, next-generation video such as 4K and HDR, the continuing shift from SDI to IP and overall from hardware to software,” said Chris Brown, executive vice president of NAB Conventions and Business Operations. “Drones and virtual reality will also command a lot of attention this year.”

“Ready, Set, Unleash,” the tagline for this year’s convention, is indicative of barriers coming down all across the media and entertainment space as content becomes available on more platforms and devices, with no real time or place constraint.

“Innovation unleashes opportunity. Ultimately, it is opportunity that is being unleashed via industry transformation, and the show is a massive window into those opportunities,” said Brown.

To get a good sense for some of the more important new trends and technologies, Brown said attendees should visit the Connected Media|IP exhibits and theater (South Upper Hall), the SPROCKIT Hub (North Hall), Startup Loft (South Upper Hall), and Futures Park, a project tied to NAB’s technology innovation program, PILOT, and also located in the South Upper Hall.

“All of these areas, by their very nature, are about spotlighting the companies and trends that are truly at the leading edge,” said Brown.

The show will explore the ongoing melding of traditional broadcast with OTT technology, as an ever-growing number of viewers continue to move beyond the traditional TV schedule experience and instead are turning regularly to over-the-top services for more individually tailored experiences.

The Online Video Conference will include a keynote address by Michael Paull, vice president of Digital Video at Amazon. His session “The OTT Landscape: Why Now and What’s Next” will look at OTT and which business models are succeeding.

This year also marks an ever-wider adoption of cloud-based technologies to handle more than just remote storage, such as the availability of cloud-based platform-as-aservice offerings, content delivery networks that offer cloud PVR functionality and mass digitization migration services via the cloud. NAB Show has a dedicated track, the Cloud Innovation Conference, which addresses these very issues.

Content producers are working to understand the role that new technologies, such as virtual reality and unmanned aerial vehicles, should play in media’s future. VR will be addressed in what NAB Show organizers are calling the “Immersive Media Experience,” which includes the Virtual Reality Summit, the new Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion, Kaleidoscope VR Showcase in the North Hall and the Super Session “Being There: Virtual Reality News and Documentaries.”

Drone technology will be the focus of the Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion that includes an indoor flying cage, and Super Sessions such as “Drones: Opening New Vistas to Content,” where panelists will review FAA guidelines and share best practices for using drones for news.

The technology is absolutely ready, said Eric Jameson, product manager of Stampede, a professional AV distribution company of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, which will be exhibiting at the show again this year. “In the broadcast technology market, the opportunity for drone integration is enormous,” he said.

This year, 4K technologies are taking a significant leap forward with 4K introductions from manufacturers in every major equipment category: cameras, lenses, storage, switchers and asset management, among others.

“4K is well underway in movie production; 4K program origination is slowly getting underway in high-end episodics and drama television production; and the exploration of 4K UHD for sports production — which was the great driver of HDTV — is now getting underway,” said Larry Thorpe, a senior fellow with Canon USA, which will be showcasing new technologies on the show floor.

Convention-goers will find a series of sessions that will look at protecting 4K content and the state of production, including the Super Session “4K, UHD, HDR and More — The Future of Video,” a Broadcast Engineering Conference session on “Downloadable Security: Locking Down Protection of 4K Content,” and sessions on 4K testing and lighting issues.

When the show floor opens this morning, the broadcast industry will be wading through ongoing regulatory issues, among them the progress of the nation’s largest broadcast incentive auction. Sessions like “Consequences of the Incentive Auction” will address these issues with panels of speakers who will discuss how engineers can best plan and manage the outcomes.

“NAB Show is an ideal venue to hear directly from regulators about where the auction is headed and how broadcasters can prepare,” said Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of NAB Communications, pointing to guidance that might be found in sessions such as “Making It Back Down the Mountain: Repacking Broadcasters Following a Successful Incentive Auction.”

Broadcasters are also working to determine how deep IP technologies can be deployed. Sessions like “Can IP Dominate in Broadcast Facilities?” will attempt to ferret out which functionalities can migrate to IP and which remain islands solidly dependent on legacy broadcast technologies, be it switching, transmission, storage or security.

This year, NAB Show is putting heightened emphasis on advertising and monetization issues with the Advanced Advertising Theater. Found in the North Hall, this cross-screen advertising theater will highlight technologies and companies developing solutions designed to allow broadcasters, digital publishers, radio stations and multiplatform content creators to better monetize content and optimize an ad campaign.

The new Multicultural TV & Video Conference will focus on how media companies can best capitalize on the diverse audiences inherent to television and other video content viewing, particularly related to talent, content development, brand advertising and publicity.

“The show is really a comprehensive platform representing all aspects of the media and entertainment industry,” said Brown. “The very definition of broadcasting is evolving, and this event, more than any other, provides the opportunity for participants from a variety of sectors to come together to explore the future of media. Indeed, within the various segments of the industry there is far more commonality than there is difference, and bringing it all together at NAB Show drives a powerful learning and partnering dynamic for all involved.”