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2014 GV Expo Wrap-Up

A forward-looking year

Lawrence Perry from Lakeside Middle School admires the Blackmagic Design URSA camera.

In 2013, the extended federal government shutdown and subsequent cramped budgets known as “sequestration” spread a malaise across government organizations that fall. Everyone got back to work in time for that December’s Government Video Expo, but some of the leftover unease still hung in the air.

It was hard to sense at the time, but it was obvious from the cheerful attitude on the floor of GV Expo 2014 that everyone was glad 2013 was behind them. The result was that GV Expo 2014 featured lots of smiling faces and attendees who really dug into the exhibits to learn more about products.

Cobalt Digital’s Anthony Klick (L) describes product features for Scott Rising from Fermion Government Services.

Of course, major industry companies such as Panasonic, JVC, Grass Valley, Canon, Ross Video and Blackmagic Design were there, as well as many others that provide products necessary for the infrastructure of government video operations, such as Cobalt Digital, PESA, Rose Electronics, Matrox and Evertz. Shenzhen Leyard Opto-Electronics made a big statement as you entered the hall, with its enormous and bright flat-panel display. Across the aisle from Shenzhen Leyard was systems integrator CEI’s big booth, featuring some of the manufacturers that the company installs in its many government projects.

At the far end of the hall was the popular Presentation Theater, which had a continuous series of popular presentations, including the Meet the Government Producers Panel that is an annual favorite. The GV Expo’s keynote talk, by Loren Hudziak of Google Federal, was given not on this stage but in a nearby ballroom in the elegant Washington Convention Center. His talk was on the timely topic of data storage in the cloud.

One of the most popular events at the GV Expo is always the equipment raffle at the end of each day. This year, we held raffle sessions at the end of both exhibition days, and they attracted large crowds. Government Video thanks the following companies for their excellent and well-received prize donations:

  • Fostex: Two pairs of 6301NE loudspeakers
  • Blackmagic Design: UltraStudio Mini Monitor, Davinci Resolve software, Teranex Express converter
  • Fujifilm: instax mini90 instant camera with film
  • Grass Valley: Two copies of EDIUS editing software
  • Panasonic: Two DMC-TS25 digital cameras
  • Ikan: Two iLED120 on-camera LED lights

PeopleTec’s Joseph Simpich (R) learns about the Evertz MMA-10G network based AV distribution system from Joel Woodriff.

At the GV Expo, we look for innovative and interesting products that we think will be of interest to government video operations. These are our Salute Award winners, and normally choose 10 products.

This year, we decided to go one better with 11 Salute Award winners; I was assisted in my selections by James O’Neal, the technology editor of TV Technology magazine and a long-time engineer with the Voice of America. Here’s a look at the 2014 Government Video Salute Award winners:

Virtual Backgrounds “DigitalProjected Background System”: This technology allows users to very simply and easily insert a still or moving video background image behind live talent. It does not employ and computer or conventional chroma key “green screen” technology, keeping costs down and making it easy to implement. It does not suffer either from the “tearing out” or fringing sometimes seen in chroma keys and allows talent to wear clothing of any color without worry that it’s too close to the background color to allow proper keying.

Blackmagic Design “Studio Camera 4K”: Blackmagic Design continues to push down the cost of entry to high-end video production, making it affordable for many government operations. The Studio Camera 4K has a logical design that should have been part of studio cameras for years, including a built-in 10-inch display that’s even bigger than the optional displays you must add to most other cameras. By the time you accessorize a more traditional camera with all the necessary studio equipment, the cost of the Studio Camera 4K becomes quite attractive. And it can shoot at HD resolution, if that is your need for today, giving you future capability.

Evertz “VScribe” capture, tag and playout system: This clip playout system includes many of the features and much of the functionality incorporated in the Evertz DreamCatcher replay system, but at a fraction of the cost, allowing its implementation by PEG entities and other entities operating with smaller equipment budgets. With quality that looks and functions just like a network-quality system, VScribe makes it affordable for many more users.

Tektronix “Cerify” enterprise and cloud automated analysis system: This technology provides automated inspection of file-based content being ingested in a variety of formats, bitrates and compression standards, greatly assisting the quality control operations of television program providers. It provides automatic examination of all content and flags areas/scenes that fall beneath established levels of acceptability. The QC operator can then examine the tagged portions of the content to determine what actions are needed before the material can be aired. Its implementation allows much greater productivity to be achieved in QC operations.

Ikan “Piatto” series of LED lighting devices: This is a range of LED edge-lit lighting instruments that provide a very even and soft light for television/cinema production work. The are available in both round and rectangular formats to allow users to tailor light output and also come equipped with battery plates that allow owners to use them with a variety of camera batteries, including those used with Canon, Panasonic and Sony cameras.

Lynx “Television and Data Network”: This system delivers high-definition television signals along with Internet or other services on a shared CAT-5/6 data cable, providing up to 210 HD channels. It can be implemented for about half the cost of conventional coaxial or fiber cable installations. As buildings get fitted with IP cabling, this is a way to distribute cable TV with a cable infrastructure.

Fujifilm “Dternity” storage and archiving solution: The LTO tape-based storage/archiving system was designed for ease of use, economical operation and scalability. It is file-based, portable and completely non-proprietary, allowing users to store files without having to perform file type conversions, add wrappers or install software. It can grow as a user’s needs and content library grows and provides the option of automatically replicating content in the Fujifilm Dternity Media Cloud as well as locally on LTO tape.

Cobalt Digital “Quint-Split” multiviewer product: This is a new offering from Cobalt that works with virtually all video signal sources, is extremely quick and easy to configure to meet the user’s display requirements and is fully-featured in terms of audio, timecode and other displays. It’s also attractive in that it’s available in two different configurations — a standalone rackmounted unit, or as an openGear card that can be used in an owner’s existing card frame, saving both space and money.

Altinex “Muse IP+” HDMI and Power Extension System: This product makes installing remote HDMI devices, such as a digital signage display, much easier by sending both power and signal down the same Cat-5e/6 cable. In other words, a digital signage monitor or other HDMI device can be installed in a location that otherwise has no power, and be remotely powered from the communications cable. This is a major advantage for older buildings that need digital signage but don’t have power where it’s needed.

Matrox “Monarch HD” Streaming and Recording Appliance: Matrox has made it easy to simultaneously stream and record a video event, at impressive quality. The Monarch HD is small, inexpensive and easy-to-use, and it can be set to record and stream video at broadcast quality. If your organization streams and records, it’s now easier than ever.

JVC “GY-HM200/170” 4K Camera Series: JVC’s new GY-HM200 is an affordable 4K camcorder with professional features such as XLR audio inputs, a 12x zoom lens and built-in streaming capability. Its sibling, the GY-HM170, has identical performance at a lower price, but without the XLR inputs and streaming capability. The cost of professional 4K cameras is now just marginally higher than HD cameras with similar features and quality.

Congratulations to all the Salute Award winners!

Finally, one other major function of the GV Expo is education. This year, all the Next|Video classes — more than 20 sessions — were free. That made this year’s GV Expo too good a bargain for many. We don’t know if this will be repeated at the 2015 GV Expo, so stay tuned for more information.

The 2014 GV Expo was a rewarding event for both attendees and exhibitors, with an eager crowd interested in products, education and peer fellowship.