Excitement around a flurry of innovations and announcements took center stage at the 2016 NAB show.
The NAB event delivered its usual high level of business and technical quality and attracted a generously sized crowd of qualified visitors and participants. The buzz around VR technology, HDR technology and new workflow initiatives announced by NABA, DPP and other key players in the media and broadcasting industry were the highlights of this year’s line-up.
The enthusiasm and interest around the popularization of Virtual Reality technology was truly interesting. Industry professionals and end-users alike are all keeping eyes on the path of development that visionaries will take this technology down… will it be the next big thing in broadcast or will it go down memory lane like 3D TV did a few years ago? Right now VR has plenty of wind in its sails and it’s future looks promising.
NHK made an impressive announcement during NAB 2016. NHK presented Ultra HD 8K for Virtual Reality and NBC Sports announced that the next broadcast of Kentucky Derby will be also offered in VR.
I can already imagine the ensuing enthusiasm of advertisers as they can offer a walk-through VR tour of their next best products such as the hottest new model car, a cruise ship or a new airplane. Engaging and connecting with their target audience/customer is of paramount importance to advertisers. VR technology has great potential to attract and keep the attention of the viewers even during commercials.
At NAB, I enjoyed the opportunity to try a demo of VR television myself. I was very happy with my demo: the new VR goggles, in lieu of the old technology of 3D glasses, facilitate an experience that is more integrated with the physical body of the participant and result in a more immersive viewing experience.
I also seized the occasion to watch several HDR (High Dynamic Range) videos. I perceived a sizable boost in quality in HDR versus regular HD. I see a high probability for HDR broadcast catching on in the home screen soon. Most broadcasters will be offering some HDR content during the Rio Olympics. HDR will undoubtedly make the show all the more exciting.
From a technical standpoint, the two salient observations I would proffer are that digital is THE norm (everything is now file based) AND that content file sizes are growing at exponential rates. The technical challenge remains in how to continually architect and adapt all the computer systems for storage, transcoding, streaming and editing software for those very large media files.
NAB 2016 has highlighted that the media handling standards of FIMS and DPP are here to stay. These standards are enjoying an ever-growing level of acceptance.
In addition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ ACES standard for production through distribution and archiving has put forth a new initiative. Furthermore, North American Broadcasters Association (NABA) and the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) also announced new delivery specifications. Having these standards implemented by all the broadcasters is key as it will help to unify and standardize all the digital workflows. This NABA and DPP initiative will also help secure content from any illegal distribution.
Taking into account that the time of consolidating standards will be soon upon us, ideally, at this point, I would pick any standard and stick with it…. The transition from one standard to another will be a lot less painful than starting from nothing.
With technology cycles accelerating and heavy ongoing investment in technology within the broadcast industry, all of these impressive advances in features and applications can continue to make big inroads into the viewer experience and satisfaction level. The fast pace of announcements of new broadcast technologies will surely succeed in keeping future NAB shows dynamic and exciting for the years to come.