April 18, 2011
Volume XXXIV, Issue 10
Cloud Video Production Takes the Spotlight at NAB Conference
Excerpted from Streaming Media Magazine Report by Adrian Pennington
The third great theme at NAB2011 aside from 3D and 4K imaging is that of cloud-based content production and management.
A growing number of solutions are emerging from new players and traditional video developers taking advantage of aspects of cloud hosting.
Among them is a framework from Avid whose core business is editing systems. Fifteen years ago non-linear editing systems were packaged as turnkey products bundling software into expensive hardware processing platforms. At its height there were between 20 and 30 competing non-linear edit systems. A decade ago the software was liberated from bespoke hardware to run on standard PCs and prices were slashed leaving Avid, Apple, and Adobe as the main vendors. That remains the case today, but Avid has begun to take the sector to its logical next step by freeing software from the PC all together.
At NAB, Avid has debuted Interplay Central, a web-based production portal for PCs, laptops, and mobile phones. Targeted first at mobile newsgathering it could also serve applications in fast turnaround genres such as sports or reality TV shows. It is also the first in a much wider plan by the company to offer products based on an IP framework.
Interplay Central is described as a web-based portal offering workflow tools for the creation, management, and distribution of media held locally or centrally. However the mobile app is released only for Blackberry phones initially - not iPhone or iPad, which are owned by Avid's arch rival Apple.
"In the past, there were rigid tools for news production, but this breaks the mold and enables media professionals to access a single user interface on a laptop or mobile device and tap into newsroom systems," explained Christine Viera, Avid's Vice President for Product and Segment Marketing. "If a journalist in the field were using a mobile device they could browse and edit content directly and in real-time, whether in wireless range or not."
Although currently optimized for Avid's new production platform iNews and its asset management system Interplay, Interplay Central is open to links with third party systems, such as those from Quantel or Apple.
Technologies adapted from Maximum Throughput, a company acquired in July 2009, are also being deployed. Maximum Throughput assets included the Sledgehammer line of storage solutions and MaxEdit, a web-based editing platform.
"That technology is going to be central to our plans across the enterprise since it gives us a huge amount of flexibility in how we deploy client-web apps as well as supporting a mix of media formats," said Sam Bogoch, Director of Enterprise Sales Programs for Avid. "Cloud-based configurations are the future and a big part of the future for Avid."
Avid is not alone. Fellow post production company Quantel has devised QTube software, which it claims offers frame accurate cloud-based edit and review of video content.
QTube is aimed at creating a cloud-based global media workflow by allowing media assets to be accessed online. It is being shown with an open API so that anyone on any platform, including a tablet, could access full quality HD and SD content. "QTube needs to be compatible with all of the devices our customers use," said Quantel's Steve Owen.
Meanwhile, the Fordela Corporation, a start-up founded by employees of LucasArts, has come out with a cloud-based solution for managing stereo 3D content. Based on the firm's Ambassador platform and aimed at content producers, distributors, and publishers of 3D video, its 3D frame-packing and management in the cloud uses Microsoft Azure and Amazon EC2. Ambassador is also available to manufacturers of 3D hardware as an OEM/white-label solution.
"Our platform has brought together a powerful network of technologies from NVIDIA, Microsoft, Amazon, and Akamai, to provide a seamless way to manage and deliver 3D video," said Fordela's CEO Ron Spector. "3D video content can now be easily managed and delivered from the cloud to any connected 3D enabled device."
NAB is running a CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference stream at which Marty Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), said. "Cloud computing is an opportunity for content makers and distributors to reach new audiences and to make more money from their products. It truly is the next big thing and something everyone involved in broadcast needs to learn more about."
NAB Cloud Conference Brings IT Down to Earth
Excerpted from NAB Show Daily Report by James Careless
Cloud computing may seem like a new frontier, but in reality it is simply accessing the information technology (IT) capabilities you need - be it storage, archiving, back office or post production - via other peoples' computers over the web. Whose computers they are does not matter anymore than it matters which specific electricity plant generates the power that runs your servers.
The notion of computing power being served up as a commodity - like electricity or water - is at the heart of cloud computing. How we can leverage this power is at the heart of Monday's CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference at NAB, sponsored by Kulabyte.
"This conference will explore how rapidly emerging cloud-computing technologies will expand the possibilities of digital post production and distribution while also threatening the status quo," says Marty Lafferty, CEO of the Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA), which has organized the one-day event. "Think of the conference as 'a one-day primer on all things cloud.'" Among the keynote speakers is Anne-Carole Nourisson, Vice President of Licensing with Vivendi Mobile Entertainment (VME). She'll open the conference by detailing cloud computing's impact on transcoding, storage, distribution, payment collection and performance measurement.
Creaza CEO Jostein Svendsen examines how ready the cloud is for all of today's technical infrastructures, and GenosTV CTO Mike West discusses how cloud distribution will benefit consumers, and challenge rights-holders.
Then Dow Lohnes' Member Jim Burger will look at the downside of cloud computing.
"What do we know about inadvertent leaks, security breaches, or intentional hacking of confidential data?" Lafferty asks. "What happens when users go offline; how can they retain access to their applications? And if a cloud provider goes out of business, where does that leave the content owner?"
The conference will also get attendees thinking through panel discussions.
"One of the panels will examine how cloud-based distribution will let users access broadcast and cable programming signal streams, plus own virtual copies of television programs, music, games, and movies," says Lafferty. "We will also have panels discussing the pros and cons of the cloud for broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers and telecom companies. TV manufacturers and broadband operators are worried that Internet connectivity and cloud computing will affect the ways they develop and market their products, and utilize network resources - and rightly so."
The CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference will wrap-up with a look ahead to cloud computing's potential for delivering and monetizing TV/film content in new and creative ways.
"Ultimately, cloud computing is an opportunity for content makers and distributors to reach new audiences, and to make more money from their products," Lafferty concludes. "It is truly the 'next big thing,' which is why cloud computing is something that NAB delegates need to be learning about now. CONTENT IN THE CLOUD is a must-attend event."
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
Congratulations to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) on a very successful and exciting 2011 NAB Show.
We are especially grateful to NAB Science & Technology Vice President John Marino and his team for the opportunity to present our inaugural CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference at NAB.
And thanks to all who participated in this informative and stimulating standing-room-only (SRO) event.
The DCIA offers a special note of gratitude to conference sponsor Kulabyte.
Kulabyte's newest offering Hyperstream, is the world's first live cloud-based video transcoding service, capable of transforming a single live video origin stream into all of the many formats and data rates required to distribute video via the Internet to every screen regardless of device, player, screen format, or last mile bandwidth.
We also welcome Vivendi Mobile Entertainment (VME), GenosTV, and Octoshape as the newest Member companies of the DCIA, announced during the Conference.
For those unable to attend, the Conference Agenda is now posted online here.
The opening keynote presentation, on "Vision for Content in the Cloud" by Anne-Carole Nourisson, VP of Licensing at VME, is now posted online here.
The second keynote presentation, on "Cloud Vision vs. Technical Reality" by Jostein Svendsen, CEO of Creaza, is now posted online here.
The first panel discussion, "The Impact on Consumers of Implementing Cloud Computing for Media Delivery" featured Jonathan Hurd, Director, Altman Vilandrie & Company; Kshitij Kumar, SVP, Mobile Video, Concurrent; Steve Masur, Managing Director, MasurLaw; Tom Mulally, Principal Analyst, Numagic; Guillermo Chialvo, Gerente de Tecnologia, Radio Mitre; Bill Kallman, President & CEO, Scayl; Jonathan Sasse, SVP of Sales & Marketing, Slacker; and Stuart Elby, CTO, Verizon Digital Media Services.
The third keynote presentation, on "Benefits of Cloud-Delivered Content for Consumers: Ubiquity, Cost, Portability Improvements" by Mike West, CTO of GenosTV, is now posted online here.
The fourth keynote presentation, on "Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content for Consumers: Privacy, Reliability, Security Issues" by Jim Burger, Member of Dow Lohnes, is now posted online here.
The second panel discussion, "The Impact of Cloud Computing on the Consumer Electronics and Telecommunications Industries," featured Dan Holden, Chief Scientist, Comcast Media Center; Sean Barger, CEO, Equilibrium; Dan Schnapp, Chair, New Media, Entertainment & Technology, Hughes Hubbard; Mark Vrieling, CEO, ScreenPlay; Kathleen Sullivan, CMO, Verizon Digital Media Services; and Sean Jennings, VP, Solutions Architecture, Virtustream.
The fifth keynote presentation, on "Benefits of Cloud-Delivered Content to the Consumer Electronics and Telecommunications Industries: Advanced Capabilities, New Features, Cost Advantages," by Jonathan King, SVP of Business Development at Joyent is now posted online here.
The sixth keynote presentation, on "Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content for Consumer Electronics and Telecommunications Industries: Infrastructure, Disruption, Accountability Issues" by James Capps, VP of Systems Engineering & Integrated Technology at Comcast, is now posted online here.
The third panel discussion, "The Impact on Broadcasters of Cloud Computing Deployment," featured Alexander Marquez, Director, Intel Capital; Devon Copley, Managing Director, Kaltura; Peter Forman, CEO, Kulabyte; Alex Castro, VP & GM, Video Platform Solutions, Limelight Networks; Guy de Beer, CEO, Playcast; David Dudas, VP of Video Solutions, Sorenson Media; and AJ McGowan, CTO, Unicorn Media. Coverage of this panel in Rimage by Pete Steege can be found here.
The seventh keynote, on "Benefits of Cloud-Delivered Content to Broadcasters: Efficiency, Control, Flexibility Improvements" presentation by John Griffin, Director of Connected Electronics at Dolby Laboratories, is now posted online here.
The eighth keynote presentation, on "Drawbacks of Cloud-Delivered Content to Broadcasters: Interoperability, Data Security, Quality of Service (QoS)" by Scott Brown, US GM & VP of Strategic Technology Partnerships at Octoshape, is now posted online here.
The closing panel discussion, "The Years Ahead for Cloud Computing Deployment in the Television and Motion Picture Industries," featured Chuck Stormon, CEO, Attend; Christopher Levy, CEO, BuyDRM; Les Ottolenghi, CEO & Founder, Fuzebox; Randy Simpson, Director, Institute for Defense Analyses; Ramki Sankaranarayanan, CEO, Prime Focus Technologies; Ian Donahue, Co-Founder, RedThorne Media; and Kurt Smith, VP, Sales, Verizon Digital Media Services.
For photos from the Conference, please visit and "like" Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA) on Facebook. Share wisely, and take care.
Verizon Digital Media Services Tackles IP Video Delivery
Excerpted from PC Magazine Report by Chloe Albanesius
Verizon on Monday unveiled a digital media service intended to provide media and entertainment companies an easier way to get their content on devices like smart-phones and tablets.
Rather than having to manually format content for various distribution channels, Verizon Digital Media Services (VDMS) will automate the process for customers via its IP network. The ultimate goal is to allow for "unicast," or individualized video streams on any devices, platform, or screen size.
Turner Broadcasting, Hearst Magazines, and The Associated Press will be among the first companies to sign on for Verizon Digital Media Services. The offering will help these customers save millions in capital and IT investments, Verizon said.
"Verizon is creating a first-of-its-kind automated digital utility," said Mike Millegan, President of Global Wholesale. "With this unique delivery platform, built on top of Verizon's high-IQ infrastructure, content owners, entertainment companies and digital media retailers will be able to create new business models that capitalize and deliver on the promise of digital entertainment."
Verizon said it created the "majority" of the technology used for VDMS, though it is teaming with other tech companies like Technicolor, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, and HP. Motorola will provide media transfer services, Alcatel-Lucent will focus on content delivery and streaming technologies, and HP will provide its ProLiant server technology.
"Technicolor offers the art of content preparation by bringing its vast experience in content creation, creative, and post production services and digital workflow expertise," Vince Pizzica, Group President for Technicolor's Digital Delivery Business Group, said.
Verizon said it has been working for three years to boost the performance of its network for VDMS.
Combining Signal Acquisition with Live Video Transcoding in the Cloud
Streaming media innovator Octoshape and Kulabyte, an encoding technology and services provider, announced a partnership that provides a unique solution to the resource, bandwidth, and footprint constraints that limit live event encoding and streaming from remote venues.
"We are very excited to be working with Kulabyte on resilient source signal solutions," said Scott Brown, US GM and VP of Strategic Technology Partnerships for Octoshape. "The first mile is often just as sensitive as the last mile for Internet video, but with the Infinite Uplink technology, we make best-effort networks perform like provisioned networks resulting in TV-quality transmissions over the Internet."
One of the primary challenges posed by streaming to the many different video players on the market is pushing all of those streams out of the venue. This approach requires large numbers of encoders in the field where power, cooling, space and network capacity are difficult and expensive, if not impossible, to provision. By combining Infinite Uplink with Hyperstream Live, customers can uplink the highest-quality signals from their venue, and use them as inputs to Hyperstream Live video transcoding in the cloud. Pulling these resource-intensive services up into the cloud enables more scalable, flexible and cost-advantageous solutions for broadcasters.
The combined system was used just last week in production for one of the most prestigious sporting events ever delivered over the Internet in the United States.
"Hyperstream Live marks the beginning of a new era in live event encoding and streaming on the Internet," said Peter Forman, CEO of Kulabyte. "The higher-quality source video streams provided by Infinite Uplink serve to further enhance the already disruptive value we are providing through our live cloud transcoding solutions."
"Making Video Social" Becomes Theme of User Generated Video Content
Creaza, a pioneer of cloud-based video services, made it official when Chief Executive Officer, Jostein Svendsen, unveiled the award-winning start-up's exciting new cloud-based video production platform. Speaking to attendees at the CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference of the April 9th-14th National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) in Las Vegas, Svendsen declared that the new beta platform will be available FREE to registered users by using the exclusive access code NAB 2011. Using the exclusive access code, available throughout the NAB show, anybody can begin using the exciting new solution by signing up at www.creaza.com.
Creaza discussed the new video-editing concept at the NAB's CONTENT IN THE CLOUD Conference. Following the session, company founders provided investors, media, partners and users with a private demo of the solution at Creaza's suite in the Las Vegas Hilton, adjoining the Convention Center.
Creaza's "social video" service is a revolutionary new solution that allows users to shoot, edit, share and store their self-generated videos. It is a very user friendly, cloud-based video-editing tool that quickly and easily allows consumers and businesses to edit their video into a produced package, with a wide range of professional editing techniques. Even beginners can shoot raw footage from with a mobile phone, quickly produce a broadcast-quality video and share it with their friends on their favorite social networks.
"This is an exciting milestone for our Creaza, Inc.," noted Svendsen. "Our vision is to make video social by extending the power of broadcast-quality HD to the vast reach of social media. We are proud to be most effective platform for consumers, groups and enterprises to maximize the impact of their video and expand its distribution."
With Creaza, users can generate, edit and store even HD video on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, PCs and broadband. The new platform enables users to upload video and playback video-mixes on mobile phones and tablets, as well as on PCs and laptops. Additionally, users can edit and contribute content to each other's productions and then export the finished product to Facebook and YouTube.
Creaza's "social video" service also caters to B2C & B2B, enabling multisite contributions for corporate and training videos. Creaza is anticipated to change the professional videography landscape, enabling collaborative productions for global documentaries, newscasts and even wedding videos.
Octoshape Details New Delivery Opportunities for Web TV
Excerpted from Bradenton Herald Report
At the NAB Show this week, streaming media innovator Octoshape demonstrated emerging Multicast service options for broadcasters and telcos looking to deliver over-the-top (OTT) TV with the highest quality of service (QoS) to large consumer audiences without expensive network upgrades.
The Multicast suite of services enables operators to finally apply controllability, versatility, and reliability to previously performance-challenged, best-effort infrastructures like the public Internet and wireless networks.
The software-only Octoshape approach harnesses adaptive bit rate (ABR) technology that enables streams to deliver the highest quality video, insulating content owners, packagers, and telcos from fluctuating capacity and performance when delivering video to the full range of wired and wireless devices.
"Our Multicast services usher in a new OTT ecosystem by offering those interested in delivering video the ability to use the public Internet and current infrastructure without any network upgrades," said Scott Brown, US GM and VP of Strategic Technology Partnerships for Octoshape. "Broad streaming of video content typically requires operators to upgrade the backbone and often the last-mile portions of their networks."
The fledgling Multicast offering has already been proven by AT&T, which used it to deliver more than 10,000 hours of live video to more than 100 countries, and 19,000+ unique viewers for the landmark Major League Gaming Championships event.
Previous Multicast services were restricted to use in private enterprise networks where their demanding attributes could be closely controlled and their performance managed by large corporations. With its resilient and throughput optimizing technologies, Octoshape has extended Multicast use to content packagers and telcos, opening the door to a wider range of video delivery alternatives.
"Telcos have aggressively sought new and better ways to deliver OTT TV to customers in their respective regions, but have been hamstrung by the limitations of past multicast implementations as they created seemingly insurmountable technology and business challenges," said Brown. "Our advanced Multicast suite breaks down the barriers to broad, effective and affordable use of best-effort network infrastructures to provide a consistent, dependable and reliable OTT viewing experience from telcos to consumers - minus any heavy lifting."
Microsoft Launches New Strategic Ecosystem at 2011 NAB Show
Excerpted from CBR Report
At the 2011 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, Microsoft has launched new strategic ecosystem that will lead media and entertainment (M&E) companies to the cloud.
The strategic ecosystem enables partners to develop specific offerings based on the Windows Azure platform to give M&E companies a simplified digital supply chain combined with the advantages of cloud computing.
Microsoft said that with the combined strength of the partner ecosystem and the Windows Azure platform, M&E customers benefit from applications and scenarios including: streaming online content, content security, or transcoding, without having to deploy servers, build an infrastructure, or plan for capacity of demand.
The company claimed that the new platform helps M&E companies do the following: reduce capital expenditures for new IT infrastructure; allow innovation and shorten time to market for new digital media services; leverage economies of scale of Microsoft's datacenters and platform investments; and develop and deliver new applications and services on a global scale.
In addition, by adopting applications based on the Windows Azure platform, customers can support IT environments where they are using a mixed IT environment of on-premise and other private or public cloud platforms, said the company.
The new offering also allows customers to pick and choose the partners that meet their unique needs including: cloud-based content processing; cloud-based content management; cloud-based content delivery; and cloud-based content protection.
Microsoft Communications Sector Media and Entertainment Industry Solutions Director Jake Winett said the company believes that the success of Windows Azure in M&E is hinged not only on offering a robust, scalable, and open cloud platform, but also offering an excellent partner ecosystem that allows media companies to leverage their critical applications seamlessly between on-premise and the cloud.
Polycom Announces Cloud-Based Media Services at NAB
Polycom, a global leader in unified communications (UC), announced Polycom's Accordent Media Services - Powered by Microsoft Windows Azure, a cloud services offering hosted on the Windows Azure platform that enables organizations to rapidly and cost effectively deploy a single, secure, searchable video content management solution for all their video assets - from CEO-caliber shareholder meetings, to routine video calls between end points or end user desktops.
Accordent Media Services - Powered by Windows Azure brings world-class cloud-based hosting, delivery, and video content management capability within reach for organizations looking to extract optimal productivity benefits from their growing libraries of multi-source, multi-format video assets without having to add extensive IT resources or make major capital expenditures on networking or storage hardware.
The service includes an installed, branded, and fully functional Accordent Media Management System, hosted within Windows Azure datacenters, which delivers content in various formats to widely distributed audiences via the Windows Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN).
Customers will be able to submit content created from remote Accordent capture products across the cloud using Microsoft Expression Encoder, video conferencing integrations, and desktop Microsoft Lync 2010 clients. Additionally, the service will also provide full enterprise video content management capabilities (categorizing, indexing, retention management, etc.), publishing to customer Microsoft SharePoint 2010 solutions, and scalable delivery of live and on-demand content over the Windows Azure CDN.
The service builds on the capabilities of the Windows Azure platform, an Internet-scale cloud services platform hosted through Microsoft datacenters. The Windows Azure platform helps reduce the need for up-front technology purchases and simplifies maintaining and operating applications by providing on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage web and connected applications. Infrastructure management is automated with a platform that is designed for high availability and dynamic scaling to match usage needs with the option of a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
"Microsoft is delighted with the launch of Accordent Media Services - Powered by Windows Azure, the first enterprise media management system hosted on the Windows Azure platform," said Scott Guthrie, Corporate Vice President of the .NET Developer Platform at Microsoft. "This new service brings the power of Accordent applications and Microsoft infrastructure unified into a complete Enterprise Video Management solution available to the customer in the cloud."
"This offering is in response to tremendous demand for us to provide Accordent media management capabilities in an off-premise, cloud-based model," said Mike Newman, Vice President and General Manager Video Content Management Solutions, Polycom. "We look forward to working with Microsoft to bring this powerful solution to market and to enable entirely new classes of users to experience the benefits of 'at-your-fingertips' video content."
Accordent Media Services - Powered by Windows Azure was unveiled within the Microsoft Cloud and Digital Content Management showcase at the 2011 NAB Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
ActiveVideo Networks Extols Benefits of Cloud-Based Approaches
ActiveVideo Networks discussed how video programmers and broadcasters can harness applications streamed from the network cloud to increase viewer engagement and generate new revenue during multiple sessions at the NAB Show.
ActiveVideo executives Jeremy Edmonds and Edgar Villalpando explained how approaches such as those already available in upwards of 5 million homes can enable the video programming and broadcasting communities to create rich interactive environments that include supplemental content, advertising showcases and iVOD next-generation navigational experiences.
Edmonds, Senior Director, Business Development and Customer Engineering, presented a paper entitled "Embedded TV: Creating a New Digital Ecosystem for Broadcasters" as part of the "Impact of Innovative Technologies" panel. Villalpando, Senior Vice President, Marketing, showed how iVOD uses intelligence in the cloud to drive multi-platform navigation that leverages personalization, recommendations and social networking during his session .
"With the transition to digital complete and the footprint of web-enabled TVs growing, broadcasters can now capitalize on the data-rich characteristics of digital video and the connections from the viewer back to the broadcaster," said Villalpando. "Using cloud-based content development, embedded metadata and the killer app of search and navigation - the same technologies that have powered the growth of the web - broadcasters can build value by inviting engagement with content and advertising at a personalized level."
CloudTV leverages content stored and processed in the network cloud to significantly expand the reach and availability of rich, web-based user experiences. Content is delivered as a single, adaptable MPEG stream to the CE device, which passes keyclicks from standard remote controls through the CE device to the cloud.
The CloudTV architecture offers a variety of benefits for all stakeholders, including: the ability of rich applications to run uniformly on any digital set-top box, regardless of processing limitations; the elimination of the need for more expensive processing and storage capabilities in the CE device; a "One Platform" approach in which a limitless array of content and applications can be written once and delivered to any device; and the minimization of software bugs by streaming, rather than downloading, content to the TV. For consumers, placing the intelligence in the network, and not in the home, ensures availability of the widest diversity of applications on any cable or CE device, even as technical standards evolve.
ActiveVideo Networks created CloudTV, a new apps platform that enables the development and streaming of Smart TV apps to any screen, box, or device. The CloudTV approach of placing the intelligence in the network, not the device, powers an open development and publishing environment for content creators, service providers, and CE manufacturers to quickly and easily create new television experiences for their viewers.
Vendors' Heads in the Cloud at NAB 2011
Excerpted from Broadcast Engineering Report by Michael Grotticelli
There was a lot of pent-up enthusiasm for better times ahead at this year's NAB Show, and a larger crowd than last year's gathering, but unfortunately most of the excitement was based on technologies and concepts that have little value for local broadcast stations struggling to keep up with competition coming from a number of alternate delivery platforms.
For a convention that relies on buzz words and pie-in-the-sky technology to spur interest in individual exhibit booths, 3-D, clouds, and numerous versions of service-oriented architectures (SOA) seemed to dominate, while low-cost HD news production, wireless (WiFi and 3-4G) ENG delivery and controlling audio loudness appeared closer to stations' pocketbooks.
Indeed, 1/3in sensor HD cameras, automated production and playout systems, audio signal analyzers and processors, and upgrading routing infrastructures to 3Gb/s signals appeared to garner the most interest. According to many vendors of these technologies and systems, stations have begun to buy in healthy numbers, after two years of scarce capital and reduced budgets.
"It's been a difficult and tricky period the past two years, but that period is behind us," said Michael Wellesley-Wesley, President and CEO of Chyron, regarding the revenue from his company's cloud-based services and traditional hardware graphics technology. "We're in the best shape we have been in many years."
"There's a wave of optimism across the industry," said Carl Dempsey, President of Wohler Technologies. "However, the market remains lumpy."
That optimism was apparent in the wide variety of eye-catching exhibit booths that had to cost tens of thousands of dollars to design and construct. Looking around the show floor, it seemed like an exhibit booth designer's playground. This new investment had not been apparent the past few years, as the tough economy caused many to make the most of what they had.
"The gradual economic rebound in the United States is certainly a welcome development," said John Baisley, Panasonic's Executive Vice President of Media and Products Services. "We have seen an uptick in capital spending by our customers."
What many companies that normally court local stations were showing in those bright, shiny booths this year was often not geared toward terrestrial stations at all, but to those professionals involved in the growing high-end (4K) digital cinema producers and independent movie makers (single 35mm sensor cameras and lenses).
Companies like Canon, Fujinon, Hitachi, Panasonic, Sony, and others, which typically introduce new products for ENG applications, introduced scant products for the "broadcast" market this year.
"There's not a lot we can do that we haven't already done for broadcasters, in terms of new product introductions," said Larry Thorpe, National Marketing Executive, Broadcast and Communications Division, Canon USA. The company introduced an HD ENG lens with a built-in 2X extender for 2/3in cameras, costing less than $8000. "Local stations appear to want low-cost [1/3- and 1/2in sensor] equipment, and there's plenty of that around."
There appear to be a number of high-profile sports productions occurring in the area of 3-D, but the activity is limited to the haves and have nots. If your company offers production equipment, you have seen interest, but if you make servers or routing switchers, not so much. Both Panasonic and Sony introduced single-sensor 3-D camcorders that look to make an impact on this nascent production world.
"We're in a 'wait and see' mode when it comes to 3-D," said Neil Maycock, Chief Architect at Snell, a company that makes both production switchers and 3Gb/s routers that can accommodate 3-D signals. "I think Internet-connected TVs will be a more significant market in the short term."
Many vendors at NAB this year had their heads in the cloud - cloud computing and storage that is. The basic concept of storing and processing content at a remote site in order to reduce capital expenditure was evident in more than a few exhibit booths.
"Cloud computing brings so many advantages to customers that they can't avoid looking at it in some capacity," said Tony Lapolito, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing at Signiant. The content delivery company helped one broadcast network move 15,000 files (3PB of data) last year, illustrating the need for more efficient delivery methods.
In talking with company executives, the idea has caught the attention of large service providers like cable and satellite TV providers, and even large broadcast networks like NBC (new York) and Turner Broadcasting (Atlanta), because it allows them to distribute large amounts of content to numerous locations around the world - sometimes simultaneously.
Another benefit for vendors is that they move their business model from a product vendor to a product and services supplier.
The other big concept that many were trying to wrap their head around was deploying a SOA system whereby a software layer helps a large organization with virtually every aspect of collaborative production and makes its staff more efficient. It also will help equipment vendors like Avid, Grass Valley, Harris, IBM, Miranda Technologies and Sony (which all showed some type of SOA offering), integrate their products with third-party systems easily and with little strain on an existing operations.
"The SOA environment allows an organization to dedicate its staff to specific tasks and be much more productive across multiple sites, either locally or around the globe, because they are all using the same common interface," said Eric Dufosse, Senior Director of Product Strategy for Grass Valley. He was instrumental in developing Grass Valley's new Stratus media workflow application suite, which includes a special software layer, on top of an operations' Grass Valley K2 server-base shared storage layer, to reach into all areas of a content developer's content creation chain.
Avid introduced a similar model for production, called Avid Interplay Central, which features Web- and mobile-based apps that rely on Avid's existing Interplay collaborative networking technology.
Transmission and encoding technology to support Mobile DTV was also in evidence (with several over-the-air HD and 3-D demos), although most of it was relegated to the side burner in booths that just last year championed its potential. That's because many of the same issues surrounding ATSC Mobile DTV receiver chip availability and transmission equipment investment that surfaced last year have yet to be resolved. (Harris said more than 70 stations are on the air with its technology alone.)
Technology aside, the NAB said attendance was up considerably from last year, with 92,708 making the trek to the desert, compared with the 88,044 registered attendees that came in 2010. This was reflected in across-the-board vendor enthusiasm, as many said they hosted more "serious" meetings with customers on the first day of the show than during all four days of last year's event.
Coming Events of Interest
1st International Conference on Cloud Computing - May 7th-9th in Noordwijkerhout, Netherlands. This first-ever event focuses on the emerging area of cloud computing, inspired by some latest advances that concern the infrastructure, operations, and available services through the global network.
Cloud Computing Asia - May 30th - June 2nd in Singapore. Cloud services are gaining popularity among information IT users, allowing them to access applications, platforms, storage and whole segments of infrastructure over a public or private network.CCA showcases cloud-computing products and services. Learn from top industry analysts, successful cloud customers, and cloud computing experts.
Cloud Expo 2011 - June 6th-9th in New York, NY. Cloud Expo is returning to New York with more than 7,000 delegates and over 200 sponsors and exhibitors. "Cloud" has become synonymous with "computing" and "software" in two short years. Cloud Expo is the new PC Expo, Comdex, and InternetWorld of our decade.
The Business of Cloud Computing - June 13th-15th in San Diego, CA. Cloud Computing is the latest disruptive technology. Enterprises, large and small, are looking to cloud computing providers for savings, flexibility, and scalability. However, potential adopters of all sizes are concerned about security, data management, privacy, performance and control.
CIO Cloud Summit - June 14th-16th in Scottsdale, AZ. The summit will bring together CIOs from Fortune 1000 organizations, leading IT analysts, and innovative solution providers to network and discuss the latest cloud computing topics and trends in a relaxed, yet focused business setting.
Cloud Leadership Forum - June 20th-21st in Santa Clara, CA. This conference's enterprise-focused agenda, prepared with the help of nearly a dozen IT executives, will bring you case studies and peer insights on how leading organizations are approaching the cloud opportunity â€“ plus much more.
Cloud Computing World Forum - June 21st-22nd in London, England. This third annual event is free to attend and will will feature all of the key players within the cloud computing and software-as-a-service (SaaS) market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.