NAB 2017: A Waiting Game

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April 26, 2017 5:47:23 PM PDT April 26, 2017 5:47:23 PM PDTth, April 26, 2017 5:47:23 PM PDT

So, after lots of speculation and excitement, the NAB 2017 exhibition opened its doors with the usual crowds flooding in to be first to see all of the new advances in technology in the flesh. Talk of the impending ratification of the ST 2110 standard for IP video, and its variants had dominated discussion, and everyone in the broadcast industry seems all in agreement that these new standards will be the unified way forward.

With this backdrop in mind, we were all wondering about what game-changing systems we would see out there, and after a little bit of time between meetings looking around it became obvious that the game changers just weren’t there! Yet. Panasonic have their new ‘Varicam Junior’ under a sheet on their booth, and it seems like it could be a really interesting camera for independent film makers. Nice and small, and if I had to make a bet, Super 35 sensor, interchangeable lens mounts and records to SD cards. Size wise, it is not too much different to say, the Sony FS5. Anyway, we will be waiting…

There have been some new all in one live production systems also shown at NAB this year. This seems like a hot topic, where live production for the web is a big market, but the preservation of production value is the key. Personally, the term ‘it’s only for the web’ really bothers me, as we can deliver really high quality HD material to the web, and this can be easily consumed at Full HD resolution on your connected TV at home. So, ultimately the web deserves (and needs) a high production value, as low quality production diminishes a brand’s cut through in to the market. We are past the novelty of seeing something live on the net and being amazed that it even made it, as high quality HD streaming services show up the good and the bad just as much as each other.

There are more choices in this market than ever. Pioneers in this all in one live production arena, Newtek have released their TC1 system, showcasing their NDI video over IP system, and a whole ecosystem of NDI devices from various manufacturers. Traditional broadcast players have also started to get in one the game, with Ross bringing out their Graphite all in one production system, basically taking their Ross Carbonite mixer range, Xpression graphics and clip playout servers and putting it all in to one box.

New entrants to the market, Simply Live is showing an all in one live production system with the added twist of full slow motion replay available on all inputs, and easy touch screen control from either one or two operators. EVS, not to be out done in this area also showed some new technology behind closed doors that also address this market as well, so it is quite exciting to see the choices in tools for cost effective quality live production increasing. All we have to do is wait for the systems to be available later in the year.

On top of all of this, there are quite a few options for all in one software based systems, with Livestream being one of the more popular options. Their latest Version 4.5 software brings a raft of new features, including Newtek NDI support, Bonded streaming, and 4K support just to name a few.

Streamstar have also just released their latest version of their all in one system, which has a quite unique slow motion replay system built in, and looks like a very interesting option for sporting event production. It seems Streamstar have a close relationship with JVC as their system has quite tight integration with their camera systems as well. Of course Facebook Live integration with all of these systems is a feature that has been extensively worked on as interest in this area has exploded over the past year.

Finally, Blackmagic Design also have a really interesting all in one mixer showing this year. The new ATEM Television Studio Pro HD (so catchy! and already available in the Videocraft online shop for pre-order) is a great addition to the range, and is basically their recently released ATEM Television Studio HD with a full feature vision mixing control panel. So, this means that you have a more tactile switching environment, plus simple audio level control, as well as camera control capability of connected Blackmagic Design cameras. I’m sure that this will be a popular product when it starts shipping next month.

Otherwise, my overall impression of NAB this year is that while there may be a few new products, I think that few would really notice the difference overall in the products shown at NAB last year and this year. I’m sure that the manufacturers would disagree, but it all feels like we will have to wait another year (or maybe to IBC later this year) to start seeing some bigger changes in equipment.

If you would like to share your comments with James while he is at NAB - give him a shout out on twitter you can tweet him @VideocraftJames