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The Cloud, 4K And VR Set To Dominate NAB

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When you see that filmmaker Ang Lee will be giving a keynote on Pushing the Limits of Cinema, it is abundantly clear that the artist and engineer coming closer together will be one of the huge sub plots of NAB, writes George Jarrett as he picks out his highlights ahead of this year's show.

Lee will put up cutting edge stuff – 120fps 4K 3D content with HDR, from Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk – in the company of editor Tim Squyres and production systems supervisor/engineer Ben Gervais. This attraction is a part of the Future of Cinema conference, which is great to attend as it runs on the two days prior to the show opening, and provides such great knowledge intake. The hot subjects will be virtual and augmented reality, HDR, new filmmaking technologies, and student filmmaking.

NAB is always a Willy Wonka treat of show and conference. In the huge mix of conferences, exchanges, forums and summits the sessions that catch the eye are Drones: Opening New Vistas for Content; The Amazing Journey to Bring The Man In the High Castle to the Screen (a conversations with Amazon head of drama development Morgan Wandell); and, a keynote by Oscar De La Hoya, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. This great boxing name will talk about another huge sub plot: Rolling with the Punches: Launching new Channels to Diverse Audiences.

The agendas that look worth cherry picking from are the Cloud Innovation conference, the Creative Master series, the Digital Futures and Digital Strategies exchanges, and the Virtual Reality summit. Multi-cultural content and the huge potential value of IMF to localisation will be another sub plot.

The big role for the show is to instruct the market where we stand on the road from SDI to full IP, and why we need standards to guarantee interoperability. The full house of consumer 4K set features – HDR, next generation audio, higher frames rates, etc – and 8K, VR and AR will be the ties that make NAB CES II in so many ways. For companies with a booth, showing a strongly sustained USP and energetic R&D Mojo will be vital because the journey to IP and Software Defined Networks will see many casualties.

Many vendors do not announce new products in advance of NAB. What follows are some that do:

axle Video (SL15416) has upgraded its media management system, with an emphasis on greater efficiency and power. A plug-in panel puts it into Adobe Premiere Pro CC through an axle interface window, allowing editors to search, browse, and import clips without leaving the application. This brings important capabilities to small and midsize cutting teams, for whom fuller MAM systems may be too costly or complex. Other features include expanded search capabilities, real-time status monitoring, improved administration, and large text fields that can replace separate text documents for logging and transcription. Elastic search involves the use of multiple key words in the search window to get a more precise search result.

Band Pro (C10408) will have four new lenses, interesting VR technology, plus an interesting new expander. On the optics front the Raptor FF prime lenses (100mm, 150mm and 180mm) from German company IB/E Optics will attract keen interest. Users would get full frame coverage, 1:1 magnification and T2.9 T-stop consistently. IB/E also produces the S35xFF expander, in 6K and 8K configurations.

Codex (SL6828) – Codex Vaults have been supporting an impressive, expanding number of motion pictures shooting with ARRI Alexa 65. Expect new manoeuvres with Codex Production Suite, the Mac-based dailies and archiving system for DITs, novel uses of Codex Action Cam in VR production, plus other news about Codex Backbone, the secure digital production pipeline and media management system, and ACES colour workflow support. Codex will be hosting Open Drives Inc - a specialist in the area of smart and very fast production storage for motion picture and high-end episodic TV.

Colorfront (Renaissance Hotel, Penthouse Suite) has key toolsets for Ultra High Definition (UHD) and High Dynamic Range (HDR): expect capability demonstrations of the latest versions of its dailies and transcoding products.

Dalet Digital Media Systems (SL3905) will be showcasing its media management solutions and workflow advancements, more specifically content management and distribution upgrades to the Dalet Galaxy, Brio and AmberFin platforms. Key attractions start with a powerful new analytics engine. The Dalet AmberFin orchestrated media processing and mastering platform gives inexperienced users a highly intuitive Business Process Model & Notation (BPMN) 2.0-compliant workflow designer for the quick and easy creation of complex workflow chains. Other news is the support for third-party automated QC tools, plus support for fast file transfer solutions such as Aspera, as well as Amazon S3 compatible storage interfaces. Indications of the facility of the future come with Dalet Brio. The new version of this high-density video server and I/O management platform introduces video over IP support. Dalet Galaxy MAM for news has additional resources to cover and produce more stories.

DPA Microphones (C3336) will be featuring its d:fine in-ear broadcast headset microphone and d:facto interview microphone. When paired together, they can be used simultaneously by a show host for guest interviews and audience commentary, while staying in connection with the backstage crew or off-site producers.

FilmLight (SL3829) will attract plenty of attention with Baselight 5.0, an exciting new 'step change' version of its popular colour finishing system built on a far wider understanding of colour science. This intuitive grading tool gives colourists the Base Grade tool for natural, instinctual access to subtle grading; it moves away from the traditional lift/gamma/gain approach, to a set of controls that accurately mimic the way the eye appreciates colour - via exposure, temperature and balance. Look too for the HDR capabilities through colour space 'families' – which hugely simplify the deliverables process for distinct viewing environments such as TV, 4K projection and handheld devices; gamut optimisation to provide natural gamut mapping deliverables and avoid clipping when captured colours can’t be displayed on a cinema or TV screen; plus, the toolsets perspective operator, perspective tracking, grid warper, dedicated key (for production quality blue and green screen keying), paint (for retouching), relight (for adding virtual lights) to a scene, and matchbox shader. Filmlight will also host The Foundry, for demos of Nuke Studio, and this will also feature in the studioxperience with HP. All of the Foundry's tools will be housed in a private demo suite off the show floor.

Grass Valley (SL06) will have recent parent group acquisition Tripwire to boost its content security pitches, plus booth demos of format flexibility, 4K 1-Wire assisted by TICO compression, and HDR. 4K will be stamped right across the GV portfolio. The big attractions will include the fully tooled version of ITX, and the full software version. The LDX 86 and its two software upgrade paths – one being HFR HD/3G camera applications and the other being single speed HD, 3G, or 4K acquisition – lead hi end users to the full house of the LD 86 Universe. Key features are the extended colour gamut supporting ITU-R BT.2020 and the software upgrade that gives the user 15 stops of HDR. There are five cameras in the range.

Imagine Communications (N2502) will support its product lines in compression and transcoding, monitoring and management, cloud DVR, and ad management (including dynamic ad insertion) with what it is calling ImagineLIVE! Power Sessions. Visitors will have the choice of 11 sessions featuring its own executives plus big names from: Arista, CBS, Cisco, EVS, Grass Valley, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Lawo, The Madison Square Garden Company, Microsoft, NEP Group, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and TV Globo. Imagine has integrated 4K/UHD and HDR capabilities into its full range, including Selenio MCP, Selenio 6800, the Platinum routers, Nexio AMP, SelenioFlex Live, plus a new monitoring solution launching at the show. It will showcase its support for HEVC/H.265 compression in its Selenio platform, and demonstrate support for UHD signals over IP using intoPIX TICO and Sony IP Live mezzanine compression for live production. Products to check out will be the Landmark management tools, and the CloudXtream platform with Dynamic Ad Insertion capabilities.

IMT (C1321) will champion its 58microLite HD Mini Kit, and the CIRAS-x6 and DR3 diversity receivers. The first is a highly portable professional-grade MPEG-4 COFDM HD wireless camera transmission link capable of providing high-quality video at distances over two miles, line-of-sight. The Nucomm CIRAS-x6 is a ruggedised COFDM (DVB-T compliant) six-way diversity receiver integrated into a six-segment antenna pod. The Nucomm DR3 is a third-generation diversity receiver that includes six-way MaxRC diversity, IP diversity, MPEG-2/4 decoding, a Web Page interface and integration into IP networks.

Linear Acoustic (SU11921) – the TV section of the Telos Alliance – will have updates to two products. The latest boost to the AERO.10 DTV audio processor delivers features and audio quality at a price perfect for users and applications that previously may not have been able to consider the AERO family. It features a 2+2+2+2+2 configuration to accommodate even more processing options. The MT2000 multichannel bit stream analyzer now offers a streamlined menu structure, automatic detection of input signal type and the viewing of all 16 audio channels at once.

MTI Film (SL14317) will build on its dailies package Cortex with a V3.0 rush of upgrades. These are dead pixel detection and correction, IMF package creation for Sony and Netflix delivery, ASO2 package creation for HBO delivery, MTI/Samsung UpRes, Dolby Vision decoding, encoding, and metadata editing, edit tools for EDL conform, and ACES support. Stand out improvements are the extended project manager with new find function, archive function in copy tool, colour trace, a full screen sync tool, and the full screen QC tool.

NexGuard (SU3424) is part of the fight against the illegal redistribution of content, with its forensic watermarking technology. Visitors will see watermarking used for finding the source of illegal redistribution and protecting revenues. Not only is pirating a multi billion dollar problem, pirates too benefit from ubiquitous access to superfast broadband. Look for E-Screeners: a solution designed for physical discs or electronic screeners that ensures that original content is protected in the production and pre-distribution stages. Other demos will involve live watermark detection and watermarked clips on an HDR TV.

Pronology (SL12407) has added features to its complete media asset management platform Location Intelligence. This enables editors, producers and other users to quickly determine whether content is available immediately or needs to be transferred from another site globally. Users simply glance at an icon to pinpoint a media assets' location, ensuring the efficient use of bandwidth and storage resources.

Rascular (SU5802) covers the need for a manual control option in modern play out environments. Users can design and deploy control panels to fulfil a variety of operational requirements across kit from many vendors. The apps run from channel branding to single/multichannel master control, and time of day router switching. The product to look for will be Mediant 3.0 – an upgraded media management tool offering automated secondary event handling. It reads automation schedules for secondary events, finds the specific media that's required for those events, and then places that media on the appropriate branding or channel-in-a-box device. Rascular has also expanded the capabilities of Clockwork, an application within its control software Helm. It now has inbuilt knowledge of event duration. Rascular will also highlight its continued (Helm) partnership with Harmonic.

Sound Devices (C6040) will have new audio and video devices, the PIX-E series. The 688 12-track portable mixer and recorder (on the Market 10 months) will be joined by powerhouse accessory products – the optional SL-6 powering and wireless system, and the CL-12 linear fader controller. That is now compatible with the entire line of 6-Series mixers/recorders. On the video side, look for the PIX-E series 4K recording field monitors and accessories. This includes two five-inch models, PIX-E5 and PIX-E5H, as well as the seven-inch PIX-E7. The accessories include the PIX-LR audio interface and the inventive SpeedDrive recording and fast file-delivery enclosure.

Suitcase TV (SL5826) will have its IABM award winning iphrame Vision Remote solution and the stand-alone version of its MediaStor storage and archiving platform. MediaStor now has support for archiving to spinning disk using new SMR disk technology combined with MAID architectures. The new MediaStor Archive enclosure provides up to 128TB of usable storage in a 1RU enclosed with an idle power consumption of only 10W. MediaStor can also offer resources to perform media related tasks because it is built upon Microsoft Windows. The Iphrame Vision Remote is part of a range of software-based solutions enabling combined SDI and IP-based operations. Suitcase will also be supporting AMWA's Networked Media Incubator Project.

Tektronix (SU5006) remains a must see company at NAB, and this time it will have the hybrid SD/IP media test and diagnostic platform Prism, which is designed to help the migration from legacy SDI thinking. Mindful that the huge investment in technologies and workflows requires a phased transition, Tektronix has created a toolset that will diagnose and correlate both SDI and IP signal types and quickly identify the root cause of any error within all layers. Prism offers input signals identification that can quickly identify the IP streams in the Ethernet link, and the content in each of the streams. The software provides packet interval histogram and trend graphs.

Tightrope Media Systems (SL4228) will major on a new software upgrade (V6.1) for its Cablecast broadcast automation platform. This adds features that address evolving audience viewing habits across smartphones and tablets, along with open APIs that maximise front-end presentation flexibility for community TV station web developers. Following up V6.0's powerful VOD publishing, 6.1 expands the options with a VOD chaptering application – new functions that allow users to insert chapter markers at important points in the content, along with searchable descriptions of the marked events.

TMD (N4225), known for its Mediaflex-UMS asset and workflow management platform, has formed a partnership with Take 1 Transcription that sees Take 1's Liberty transcription and metadata service platform integrated into the Mediaflex-UMS. Take 1 is well known in the content market for the creation of timecode-accurate transcriptions of programs with descriptive metadata. TMD users will be able to request services from Take 1 through Mediaflex workflows.

Volicon (SU6521) will lead with its Observer Media Intelligence Platform - which is designed to help broadcasters repurpose and deliver content via new channels, whether on-air broadcast or digital and social media platforms – and one new enhancement is automated content exporting. Volicon will also showcase new enhancements to the Share application, including integration with the As-Run Log (ARL) to enable users without training on video editing systems to remove ads quickly and generate complete frame-accurate long-form VOD assets. Its multi-viewer option for the Observer MIP unites the platform's recording capability with multi-viewer functionality to give users access to multiple live or recorded programs, complemented by frame-accurate data, on a monitor wall or any staff desktop. The booth demo will highlight how enhancements to the multi-viewer element enable users to keep eyes and ears on every channel in the delivery chain. The secret is the new graphical interface.

Vizrt (SL2417) will focus on smarter workflows with MAM and metadata and much of what it demonstrates will be upgrades to its Viz One MAM system. It is offering wider support for H.264, Apple ProRes and MPEG-Dash. The new features include editing graphics anywhere, using Viz One Meta-graphics, and the smart search interface across all your metadata – new to Viz One is the ability to search for several types of metadata in a single interface. This allows editors to find and edit material much quicker. Instant VOD publishing from the control room is an instant VOD publishing workflow that enables the simple creation of multiple online versions of content from a single live broadcast, using the Vizrt automation systems. The increased speed with the HTML panel for Adobe Premiere pro CC is another Viz One feature, and it accelerates the recall, playback and rendering of media.

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