The NAB 2019 edition attracted over 91,460 to Las Vegas for the world’s largest annual convention covering media, entertainment, and the technology that underpins it all.
The impact of the transformation of the content industry was heard across all sectors of the media ecosystem.
Google warned that media companies must adopt “new mindsets” to navigate the steady and fast-paced succession of challenges they face.
Former FOX and Discovery executive, John Honeycutt who is now Google Cloud VP of Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment at said the television industry suffered from a stagnant stance over 20 years in its technological evolution, failing to deploy solutions that keep pace with where the business is headed.
“We continue to operate on linear supply chains for nonlinear content distribution,” he said.
The buzz surrounding 5G offered some solutions with Panavision senior VP Innovation, Michael Coini explaining the importance of cloud in the 5G space for production. "5G is going to come from a satellite. It means the camera will not record to magazines anymore, but to the cloud," he said.
He added that content being in in the cloud meant instant availability to collaborators including editors, VFX houses and issues surrounding resolution would be fixed as the bandwidth is there.
Cioni suggested that Hollywood should start to think about a universal codec, which would allow all players to work with the same system for encoding, decoding and compressing images.
These views were echoed across NAB sessions, which discussed the importance of cloud to facilitate the rise in production and in the light of streaming platforms such as Netflix and new services such as Apple TV+ and Disney+ on the way and spending millions in increased content production.
Honeycutt added, “Many companies know they have to make this transition. And this transition can only be enabled by beginning the move to the cloud,” he said. He said fully leveraging the strengths of the cloud involves more than simply shifting workloads from an on-premise data centre to the public cloud. “It is an easy way to get started … but only a first step,” he said.
Cloud-based workflows are augmented by software-defined virtualised IP media platforms such as the one showcased by Telstra at their NAB stand.
Native IP media systems are complemented by IP-based video transport solutions operating both over managed IP infrastructure and unmanaged Internet. VideoFlow presented their latest software release and claimed more customers in North America using both wired and wireless infrastructure.
5G was proclaimed to be at the height of its buzz cycle, by analyst Shelly Palmer. Crown Castle VP Chris Levendos forecast that a wide rollout is still three to five years away, but the technology does offer the promise of higher bandwidth and lower latency, meaning the ability to handle more data, and faster being about 20 times faster than 4G.
Following in from CES, every major tech manufacturer rolled out TV displays at 8K, 16 times more resolution than HD and 4 times more than 4K. At NAB, players like Avid, Blackmagic, FilmLight, Red and Sony were pushing 8K capabilities. 8K content production is still ultra niche as there is no business model or distribution infrastructure. Japanese public broadcaster NHK is actively producing 8K and launched its satellite 8K broadcasting service in December with the aim to build an audience toward its planned 8K coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The broadcaster currently airs 12 hours of 8K content per day, including some live sports, music documentaries and even restored film classics.
Panavision's Cioni, saying that he believes 8K will be widely adopted and sees a future where Hollywood moves to 16K.
Meanwhile, Sony is getting ready for 4K Ultra High Definition workflows, in a world of intensifying competition between SVOD services. More than 80m 4K UHD television sets shipped in 2018 according to research firm Futuresource and 60% of them featured High Dynamic-Range (HDR) imaging as a feature. There are currently 155 Ultra HD / 4K channels or feeds worldwide, with 76 of them in Europe.