While everyone has their own take on the show depending on what interests them, here is what our very own James Taylor (@VideocraftJames) took from NAB this year.
4K is everywhere now.
This was absolutely the case, with pretty much every company having 4K logos on their gear. Obviously 4K has been around for a while now in digital cinema production, but is now a real option to now produce 4K for live television. I may be jaded and cynical, but walking between all of the stands I felt that 4K on big TV’s did not feel as ‘special’ as maybe I would have hoped. But with an exception: the new hope is not more pixels, but High Dynamic Range (HDR), also defined as a new standard, BT.2020.
We have had image sensors for quite a while now with fantastic ability to handle dark areas and highlights in a RAW mode for later grading, but very simply it is about choosing what you want to throw away in post. The idea of HDR is that the performance of the imager can be more faithfully produced, and coupled with a wider colour gamut I had found this so much more impressive. The colour reproduction was so much better, and having the ability to see in to dark areas without the bright areas blowing out was a revelation to see on a domestic style screen. I would personally choose HDR images over ultimate resolution, but I suppose we get both. If we all have to go through the upheaval of changing everything to 4K, I feel that the extra pixels really did not add anything to experience if we are still constrained by the current 709 colour space used in HD systems. So, look out for HDR!
Using IP infrastructure to replace traditional video cabling.
I think that NAB 2015 could be defined as the year where IP infrastructure could be defined as a real thing, and all of the big companies had large amounts of new toys on their stands all vying to be the ‘new standard’, within the SMPTE ratified standards, if that makes sense! Right now, it is very much a product line for the top end of town, and I think that there will be a fair bit of pain and suffering over the next few years as everyone tries to establish their place on the market. I found it interesting that while I always thought that the idea was to be able to use standard (although high end) IT infrastructure, at this time I don’t think that that really is the case.
When I look at what has happened in professional audio over the years, many standards have come and gone, and only now are we really starting to see some possibility of audio over IP systems talking together with the AES67 standard. It is absolutely the way of the future, and I am excited about it, but right now I do have total interoperability with my copper (or fibre) HD SDI cable which will go between any brand of equipment, but right now I don’t think I would be able to as easily achieve that on IP. We only have to look at the myriad of file types in post-production workflows now to imagine what our future could look like!
The 8K Sideshow.
The Japanese, driven by NHK are driving 8K demands, and while it is amazing at the data rates we are seeing, it does feel a very long way off when you live in a country with the bulk of free to air TV is being delivered in heavily compressed SD. It was such a pleasure to watch good-looking HD broadcasts over in the US, and I continued to marvel at what HD should look like, and lament what could have been for HD in Australia. It all feels like something that is being pushed on us so the TV manufacturers can make us buy new TV’s… I think also exactly the same reason why we need 4K! Amazing technology though that when you think in DSLR speak, these cameras are taking a 33 mega pixel still 60 times a second…
Sony Optical Disc Archive.
I wasn’t really intending to focus on a particular brand, but I suppose it is my opinion and I really liked it for a lot of things we do!
We have been using (and will continue to use) LTO tape as our long term archive solution. I won’t go in to the whole reason why we go to tape, but suffice to say that if your archive is on a single hard drive, then it is not an archive!
The Sony Optical Disk archive system has matured, and it has had some major new clients over the past year apparently. What we like about it is that we have an archive grade media system with random access, and that is a huge advantage. In conjunction with an archive system, such as Storage DNA, it really makes it possible to use an archive media as a nearline storage system without having to have another pile of hard drives just to park your media away from your really expensive online storage. Extra capacity is as easy as buying more cartridges, and you have media that is more stable than tape. I could go on about it for hours, but I really do see this as the ideal archive system for the needs of the Digital Cinema and TV industry. We will be pursuing this further once we get back to Australia, so stay tuned!
They were the main things that I took from NAB this year, and I know that there were lots of other things out there that I didn’t even get time to look at! Enjoy!