NAB U: College Content Creators Take in Broadcasting Technology’s Biggest Week

A kid in a candy store and a broadcasting junkie on the NAB Show floor are really one and the same, and those working at colleges and universities across the country were in full force to take in the goodies last week at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Certain trends were quickly apparent. 4K/Ultra HD solidified itself as both the wave of the future and and an intriguing present-day production tool. Remote file sharing and digital management of video assets became an even more critical part of any production group’s workflow. And the amount of gear and infrastructure designed for the sports venue again shined a spotlight on that burgeoning market.

So how does all of that impact the college space? SVG talked to a group of attendees about what they had been looking for and what their big takeaways were from NAB 2013.

4K’s Universal Impact
It was clear before anyone even boarded a plane for Las Vegas that 4K was going to be all the rage at the show, and activity on the floor certainly lived up to the hype.

“As someone who was never really on the 3D bandwagon, I find that pretty refreshing,” says Mike Bilbow, executive director of new media at Georgia Sports Properties/IMG College. “4K has so much more flexibility going forward.”

Sure, the technology still has a long way to go to become a staple in the television viewer’s home, but, if NAB 2013 proved anything, it’s that 4K is already a growing part of sports production. Whether it’s for higher-resolution replay and slow-motion shots or for high-quality archival content, sports-content creators are hopping aboard the bandwagon.

“4K is real, as opposed to 3D’s experiment,” says Scott Rinehart, lead technologist at University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish Digital Media. “Not that we are going to be changing our infrastructures over, but we need to be ready to handle that footage when the networks send it to us. This is a long-term issue.”

That will prove extra important for Rinehart, whose school has a national-network deal in football on NBC. However, even schools that may not find themselves regularly on an ESPN or a Fox have access to 4K technologies.

“It seemed that all kinds of products, from switchers to cameras and even SDI audio monitors, now came standard with 4K support,” says Imry Halevi, director of multimedia and production at Harvard University. “That definitely made me think about how we could use 4K, in any capacity, in our premiere broadcasts and videoboard productions.” 

Asset Management Goes to School
With each passing year, university athletic departments are producing more and more video content, and storage of all those files is critical. And that doesn’t scratch the surface on digitizing a department’s rapidly aging historical content.

For those reasons, asset management was a popular topic among college attendees at NAB 2013. Mark Rodin, director of Florida State University’s Seminole Productions, looking to upgrade his shared-storage solution and to find a suitable archiving system, met with EditShare and Avid, among others.

“[I] liked both systems and am now determining which solution best meets our needs and our price point,” he says. “It still seems, the big mystery is a really good archive solution.”

Rochester Institute of Technology’s Mark Fragale is also looking to replace his school’s current server environment, while planning to move from Apple Final Cut Pro to Avid Media Composer 7 in the coming months.

At the show, Fragale and RIT looked at Avid’s InterPlay System, as well as Rourke Media’s Strawberry server solutions.

“As RIT SportsZone moves to the future and our university is building a new hockey facility, better storage and asset management has moved to the forefront of our needs,” says Fragale, executive producer of RIT SportsZone.

The Kids Are Alright
The NAB Show provides an opportunity to meet the future of broadcasting, and not just in the form of metal boxes. Many recent graduates and even current college students were in attendance to check out the gear they will be using in their future careers. Among the schools that sent students were RIT, Baylor, Minnesota State, St. Cloud State, and Missouri State.

“It was exciting to see the next-generation take on these products for themselves,” says Fragale. “Last year, we went to NAB with the intent to upgrade our replay system for our live sports broadcasts. We settled on Grass Valley’s Dyno system, and it has worked out fantastically for us. This year, I had the chance to introduce our student who runs the Dyno system for us to the engineer from Grass Valley who develops the software that drives it. They talked for 45 minutes. In this age of quick Internet information access, it is a good feeling to shake hands with like minds and just exchange ideas and concepts. This was an excellent opportunity for our students.”

Michael Bruce, professor, Telecommunication and Film Department, University of Alabama, was also on hand to take part in a panel of educators with the Broadcast Educators Association, organized by Denise Belafonte Young of Lynn University.

“[We talked] about whether studio/multicamera-production courses and facilities were still relevant in today’s era of social media and backpack journalism,” Bruce notes. “We discussed the continued importance of these courses/facilities and strategies to ensure they remain a part of our media curriculum.”

As a result of this discussion, he says, he visited the NAB Show floor looking for field-production-camera support and lighting gear.

“We may be able to renovate or upgrade our studio facilities in the next few years,” he says. “I also had an eye out for studio/multicamera-production equipment (switcher, cameras, monitors) that might fit our future needs.”

Subscribe and Get SVG Europe Newsletters