In Depth

A Guide to Trends and Product Debuts at NAB

By Debra Kaufman

When the National Association of Broadcasters’ 2010 NAB Show exhibit floor opens in Las Vegas April 12, attendees will find the annual event focused, more than ever, on content. “Where content comes to life” is the show’s tagline, emphasizing the fact that NAB is reaching out not just to the “broadcasters” in its organization’s name but to anyone in the business of creating content.

News is still a big piece of that content pie, whether the destination platform is the TV screen, Web site or mobile phone, and, as is typical for this seminal convention, many exhibitors use NAB as a platform for launching their latest gear. NewsPro has culled a few of the important trends and product debuts we’ll see at NAB 2010 with regard to news production and distribution.

The Tapeless Newsroom has been a trend for the last few years, and numerous manufacturers are helping the process along this year.

From DVS comes Venice, a digital video server that was released at last year’s IBC exhibition and conference, but is brand new for the United States. “It replaces four decks in one,” explains DVS Worldwide Business Development Manager Dan Germain. “The reporter in the field can use it to ingest various camera formats natively, from Sony XDCAM to Panasonic P-2. Venice can also transcode formats on the fly if it’s recorded something that FCP doesn’t work with. Venice then can be used to edit, either on location or back at the station. And, when it’s ready, the exact same unit can playout the news.”

The protocols by which Venice can be remotely controlled for both ingest and playout are VDCP; GPI and GPO; MOS; SOAP; and RSS422. “It can work in any news production environment today,” said Germain. “It handles everything on the fly in hardware, and is part of the station becoming tapeless.”

After announcing their intent to work collaboratively at IBC 2009, Oasys, Video Technics and Comprompter will demonstrate at NAB 2010 a tapeless broadcast workflow for different broadcast scenarios, including a newsroom workflow. The three companies comprise products for ingest, asset management, editing, shared storage, archive, newsroom automation, master control and automated playout, all of which will be configured in several ways to create a broadcast workflow of automation tools or integrated with other broadcast gear.

Grass Valley is introducing version 2.0 of its GV Connect plug-in for Final Cut Pro users, for a closer integration with K2/Aurora tapeless news systems, via MOS protocol. The result is that scripts are more tightly linked with audio/video clips, for a more efficient digital news production path. With the new GV Connect 2.0, an Aurora Edit LD workstation operating on the same network as a FCP client can seamlessly share work, allowing the editor to do a rough edit in the newsroom on Aurora and send it to an FCP editing system for finishing, without transcoding. GV Connect 2.0 also lets users export a file cut with FCP directly to an Aurora rundown list for inclusion in the evening’s newscast.

A file-based live video workflow comes from Broadcast Pix, which will introduce Granite, a native HD, 1080p-ready live video production system. Granite combines the company’s Fluent workflow software with a new HD switcher and server, and will be shown in three models. Fluent provides up to 120 hours of clip store, a graphics system with a new Harris CG, multiview that displays video and file sources, watch-folders that streamline file import from editing systems and macros for file-based effects.

News Production from a Backpack is aimed at all those stations on a budget that want to send more reporters into the field. “Instead of rolling out a highly expensive satellite truck and much more expensive satellite transmission costs, a station can have a reporter jump in a car with a backpack and be on the air pretty much instantly,” said VBrick COO John Shaw, whose company is rolling out the Mobile Broadcast System at NAB 2010. “It’s a much better ability to break news quickly.”

VBrick’s Mobile Broadcast System is a backpack-sized appliance that takes the video signal from a camera, digitizes and compresses it and then transports it over a bonded 3G or 4G connection,” said Shaw, who explained that “bonded” means that up to six 3G/4G connections are put together to create a fat virtual pipe. “With the bonded connection, VBrick’s Mobile Broadcast System can get HD quality video over the wireless network.” Users can bond cards from different wireless carriers to overcome the limitations of any one cellular network. The product also features one-switch operation, SDI inputs/outputs and H.264 video compression.

It doesn’t fit in a backpack, but Streambox Live fits nicely inside a laptop or mobile phone, to send out live video straight to the station. According to product manager Ryan Davis, Streambox Live allows broadcasters — and citizen journalists — to download the Streambox encoder to a laptop or iPhone for free. “They can then send video from the iPhone (via AT&T 3G network) or laptop to the Streambox Live server, and broadcasters can view archived clips or preview live video and send it straight to on-air for playout,” said Davis, who noted latency is two to five seconds.

If you prefer the backpack solution, Streambox has that too, in both Mac-based and hardware encoder versions. The Streambox ACT-L3 Hybrid HD/SD software encoder for Apple Mac OS X now supports HD-SDI video streaming, for field teams to gather, edit and stream live or file-based HD-SDI video over IP networks from remote locations. SBT3-9550 Portable SD/HD Encoder is the company’s first portable form factor for live or file-based video acquisition, for full resolution HD up to speeds of 20 Mbps.

Delivering Across Platforms is another potent trend for broadcasters, who are repurposing content on their Web sites and, now, mobile feeds. Manufacturers are answering the call by providing multiplatform workflows

Avid is announcing the Avid Integrated Media Enterprise framework, “a new business model” for a “content anywhere” environment with an open media catalog, rich media repository and modular, open architecture framework. This new framework is based, in part, on Avid’s recent acquisition of Blue Order, a media asset management solution. With this acquisition, Avid will expand its production-asset management solution Interplay into a full media asset management solution.

“As content is being sourced from and distributed to multiple platforms, our customers are looking at how they can become more flexible in their operations and better monetize their assets,” said Patrick McLean, Avid director of enterprise segment marketing. “The Avid Integrated Media Enterprise is a new open framework based around a modular Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) that will enable our customers to address these needs.”

Celebrating its 20th year in broadcast, Dalet will showcase the latest release of its Dalet Enterprise Edition, an open Media Asset Management (MAM) platform for collaborative workflows across multiple platforms for the newsroom, sports and other broadcast applications. Integrated with Dalet’s Newsroom Computer System, the Enterprise Edition is based on SOA and natively integrates tools for ingest, logging, production, playout, archive and distribution of content across platforms. Also debuting at NAB 2010 will be a management of digital rights and genealogy for any type of content including news, programs and sports clips, to simplify tracking of rights metadata in the newsroom.

Signiant demonstrates how its latest version of its Content Distribution Management system was used by NBC to deliver its VOD service to Microsoft Silverlight players (via Akamai’s Content Distribution Network) of the Winter Olympics. Its CDM system will also be used by LaserNet to manage delivery of news and sports of the World Cup across South African and other broadcasters. At NAB, Signiant also shows three new products — Content Transporter, Content Point and Content Transfer Engine — to improve the CDM process.

For newscasters interested in the possibilities of new mobile initiatives of the Open Mobile Video Coalition, the Mobile DTV pavilion — with its display of shipping devices tuned to the mobile frequency — will also be a must-see destination.