It’s that time of the year again, when the broadcast industry embarks on its grand annual migration to Las Vegas. Like the wildebeest crossing the Serengeti, but with more colourful watering holes and fewer lions. Yes, it’s NAB 2017. So what can we expect to be this year’s main themes and talking points?
Last year’s show was dominated by the impending IT and IP-ification of the technology and product landscape. IT in this context covers everything from generic x86 hardware platforms, virtualisation, software defined infrastructure and the cloud. Alongside that, we had a lot of focus on UHD and a lot of excitement around VR. A look through the 760 or so conference sessions listed in the 2017 agenda suggests the same topics will dominate this year’s event too. Here are a few things to look out for in each area.
We seem to have been on the journey to IP, and heralding its arrival at NAB each year, for a long time. Yet IP will again be one of the most discussed and debated topics at this year’s show. The reality is that we have made great progress already, but still have some foundational work to complete. One key area is the development, ratification and implementation of a new set of IP related standards in the SMPTE ST 2110 series. While standardisation is still underway, there will be plenty of vendors keen to demonstrate early progress at NAB.
For those interested in learning more about the current state of art in this area at NAB this year, I would highly recommend a visit to booth N4824 to see the IP Showcase – a collaboration between SMPTE, AIMS, AMWA, AES, IABM and MNA.
Another key theme from last year’s show that looks set to make a strong appearance is HDR. As the format starts to reach meaningful numbers of consumers, there is more interest in the practicalities of creating, managing and distributing HDR material. Everything from set lighting, colour grading, versioning, SDR/HDR cross-conversion and workflow adaptions need to be rethought and the show offers a great opportunity for industry professionals to share their experience to date and showcase product developments.
In the hunt for the Next Big Thing, VR is certainly the current front runner. A quick search of the conference agenda finds 74 sessions related to VR. While 2016 was a significant year in the evolution of the medium, particularly in terms of getting hardware into the hands (or onto the heads) of consumers, there is still a dearth of quality content and a wide range of opinions on its prospects. Some are dismissive, making derogatory comparisons between the hype associated with VR and that of 3DTV five years ago before it sank without trace and with significant expense. Others see VR as not just an add-on experience to visual entertainment, but a fundamental new form of human engagement with the potential to transform not just how we are entertained, but educated, informed and how we will communicate. Hopefully by the end of NAB this year, we will be a step closer to understanding which of these views might prevail.
If you are attending NAB Show I might well see you there and if you are not, then I will report back on the highlights of the show in a couple of weeks’ time.
Learn more by joining us at NAB Show 22nd – 27th April 2017, Vegas here
Steve Plunkett, CTO, Broadcast and Media Services