Live from Las Vegas: Day One

The weekend before the NAB exhibition officially opens its doors is normally a busy one, with journalists bussed and herded between press conferences at various locations on the Strip and beyond. SVG’s crack team were, of course, amongst them, so here are the highlights of the opening weekend of NAB 2012 and links to the coverage over on our sister US site.

New York-based start-up Brevity has been making noise ahead of the show, and is exhibiting V3, a Web-based video-management system that the company says can transfer encrypted video files over Internet, fiber, or satellite up to 30 times faster than otherwise possible.

“Our goal has been to enable anyone who works with large volumes of media to work smarter, faster and more intuitively than ever before,” says Brevity co-founder/CEO Jake Bronstein.

V3 is based on two core algorithms: Data Warp, which is bit for bit lossless, and Image Warp, a customized algorithm for video that is visually lossless. Both Data Warp and Image Warp create “transport” mezzanine files that reduce storage requirements while supporting industry-standard camera or editing formats at ingest and output.

Image Warp has been tested successfully against Apple ProRes 4444 and Avid DNxHD 220 in a recent Peak Signal to Noise Ratio (PSNR) test, scoring at more than 60 decibels, which is an objective industry measure of quality. The company has also successfully been tested on uncompressed high-bitrate formats and even 2k and 4k DPX files.

Interest in all things second screen seems to be steadily building in the run-up to the Olympics. You can divide your stories into conceptual, and product and sales oriented. Speaking at a pre-NAB press release, Harris Corporation President, Harris Morris, discussed the need to bridge the gap between the traditional broadcast and the digital realm, and continually feed the need for live content.

Meanwhile, at its pre-NAB press conference on Saturday night, Harmonic announced a deal that will provide the company’s Omneon MediaGrid shared storage systems and ProMedia Carbon enterprise transcoding software to NBC Olympics, during its production of the 2012 London Games. While this is the third straight Olympics that Harmonic has had a role in NBC’s workflow, its increased role on the second screen is the big win in the deal. “We’re quite excited about it,” said CEO and president Patrick Harshman. “[NBC] is always doing innovative things especially with the second screen. We’re really pleased to be a part of this.”.

And indeed, Chyron kicked off the Sunday morning press conferences at NAB by diving head first into the second-screen and social TV pond that promises to be so popular at this year’s show. The company highlighted its new Engage second screen/social TV platform (co-developed with ConnecTV) and announced the launch of Shout, a stand-alone software application that enables broadcasters to bring Twitter feeds live to air.

And with live sports generating as much second screen and social buzz as any programming on the tube today, it is no coincidence that Chyron see the sports production market as a chief landing spot for both Engage and Shout.

“We think that sports [customers] are going to be a huge taker of this product,” said Chyron President and CEO Michael Wellesley-Wesley. “We already have a very good footprint in sports where they use a lot of our traditional systems. The ability for fans to easily connect via SMS messaging or Tweets is already in place for those sports customers. We have just smoothed that workflow [with Engage and Shout]. You do not need to hire additional people to do it because it fits right into the regular sports graphics workflow.”

Elsewhere, Audio-Technica has been casting an eye over the increased use of DSLRs in sports broadcasting, andDavid Marsh thinks people are going to want microphones to get the kind of audio they’ll need to match the HD video. “It’s not just amateurs using DSLR HD cameras now – professionals are using them for sports and other applications, and they’re realizing that the onboard microphones that they come with usually are not the best,” Marsh explains.

Remote production has been another theme. Avid launched Interplay Sphere. “With the ability of Sphere to get access to all of your content, whether you are in an OB truck or a Starbucks, anything is possible,” said Avid SVP of Products and Solutions Chris Gahagan when asked about Sphere’s potential in the sports market. “Anytime a company introduces new technology like Sphere, customers will find really unique ways to use it. In sports, whether you are talking about promos or voice-overs or any other application, we’ve just started to scratch the surface of what is possible once you allow access to all your media from anywhere that is connected.”

And lastly, Sony’s NAB press conference put the focus on 3D production – remember that? – announcing that the company will once again be the sponsor of ESPN’s Summer X Games in 3D as well as programming for 3Net and Sky in the UK. But it was the announcement of a multiyear, multicamera deal with NEP that topped the list of new deals.

“We’ve working with the Sony 2500 series of cameras,” said NEP CTO George Hoover, “and we feel it is the finest broadcast camera in the world.”

The camera’s performance offers two more f-stops of sensitivity over competing cameras, making it well suited for nighttime shooting.

“It’s a truly superb camera,” Hoover added. “We will use it for both of our primetime NFL [customers] this fall and take advantage of its sensitivity for night games.”



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