NAB 2012 – was that it?

So, as the Tradeshow in the Desert winds down to a close, it has to be said that, this year at least, it has all been rather quiet. Blackmagic Design surprised everyone with its new Cinema Camera, there were the predictable potshots between CPG and 3Ality Technica regarding 5D production, and the US proved as enthusiastic for 4k production as Europe remains sceptical, but elsewhere all was rather muted. At least on the surface…Maybe it’s a sign of the changing role of the tradeshow. NAB was always about big product launches, but as the industry consolidates and moves more towards an IT model, those are becoming fewer and further between. Yes there were new cameras – and plenty of them, suggesting a market approaching over-saturation – and people have certainly bought stuff, but it’s perhaps a sign of an industry stabilising on a current technological base that the big, paradigm-shifting announcements have failed to materialise.

The biggest launch of the show judged in terms of web traffic has probably been Adobe Creative Suite 6, which is as much about Apple dropping the nonlinear editing ball as anything else. 3D is a proven production technology nowadays rather than a show-stopper, and Europe in general looks askance at 4k as a purely manufacturer led phenomenon and, frankly, wants as little to do with it as possible.

No, as Adrian Scott of the Bakewell House Consultancy has pointed out in his writing for the IABM NAB SPY group on LinkedIn, the biggest movement has been towards the Golden Triangle of Cloud, Mobile and Social. The phrase was coined by futurologist Brian Solis in his blog post Disruptive Technology and how to Compete for the Future and sets Cloud, Mobile and Social, at the centre of forthcoming technological developments, with satellite enabling technologies such as geolocation, gamification and – crucially – payments feeding off the main focus.

For the broadcast world, the Olympics is the catalyst here; the first, global broadcast event since the inexorable rise of the smartphone and growth of the tablet, and the main theme of NAB has been in watching manufacturers strike deals with each other to try and cover all three of the Golden Triangle bases. It’s tricky and it doesn’t lend itself to big, shiny floor launches with accompanying big, shiny headlines, but it is where the smart money is for the moment. And by IBC we should have a much better idea of whether that triangle will simply grow larger or evolve curved sides and transform itself into a rather big and rather troublesome bubble.

All that said though, one thing noticeable in reading all the post-NAB analysis on the web is that NAB’s importance as a networking event remains undiminished. Las Vegas in the spring, Amsterdam in the autumn… while trade shows might not have the same seismic impact that they used to have in terms of news headlines, in terms of the people side of the business, they’re as important as ever.


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