The 2016 NAB Show was packed full of new technologies demonstrated by hundreds of exhibitors. One recurring theme was the all-IP production facility, which featured in a number of the Best of Show-winning products described here. Several ultra-high definition video products operating at both 4K and 8K as well as high dynamic range (HDR) video were also popular and judged worthy of awards this year.
Walking deep into the South Lower Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center, it was impossible to miss the Planar Leyard TW Series 8K LED video display. Not only was it hard to overlook due to its bright colors and stunning amount of detail, but it was also big. Really big. As in 18 feet high and 31 feet wide. With the 1.2mm pitch (separation between adjacent pixels) of the LEDs, it was impossible to see the individual pixels farther than 12 feet from the display. Because the LEDs are housed in modules, displays can be assembled in a variety of shapes and sizes, and if a pixel should fail, a replacement module can be installed easily in its place. Several broadcasters have selected the Planar technology to provide live image background walls for on-air talent in their news and sports studios.
Referees and other officials at professional sporting events have a tough role to play. On the one hand, they need to be in the right place at the right time to make the correct calls on close plays. On the other hand, with all of the cameras and video replay equipment present for a modern broadcast, there are plenty of opportunities for second-guessing by commentators and the viewing audience. So EVS decided to give the on-field officials a powerful new tool for looking at video replay.
The Xeebra system from EVS gives full control of all available video sequences directly to the on-field staff for an immediate replay. Better yet, all of the signals can be frame-accurately synchronized and displayed in an adaptive multiviewer display format. Officials can control playback using a simple user interface that supports slow motion, freeze-frame and zooming capabilities so they can scrutinize exactly the right part of the video. The Xeebra makes a big step toward leveling the playing field between what officials and broadcasters can see.
Sometimes producers need physical copies of their video content immediately and can’t wait for duplicates to be made one after the other on a traditional editing system. With the Blackmagic Duplicator 4K, Ultra HD content can be recorded simultaneously to 25 SD cards in H.265 format from a live video source. Blackmagic Duplicator 4K encodes video using H.265 in an open file format to standard SD cards, which are compatible with a huge range of 4K displays from brand-name manufacturers. The duplicated SD cards can then be sold or given to audience members as they leave the event.
Video from special events such as weddings, concerts, seminars or sports matches can now be converted into immediate sales, rather than making customers wait for a copy to be sent in the mail or to download content from a web site. Multiple Blackmagic Duplicators can be linked together to simultaneously create even larger numbers of SD cards with up to UHD resolution H.265-encoded video and audio.
Multi-year Best of Show Award recipient Anvato was back in the winner’s circle for 2016 with its Media Content Platform. One major enhancement to the product for 2016 is the addition of instant live-to-VOD capability, which allows broadcasters to repurpose content as soon as it is broadcast for over-the-top/adaptive bit rate (OTT/ABR) distribution. This saves time by rapid stream to file conversion complete with advertising breaks that can be sold to create OTT-based revenue.
Another key enhancement is support for a cloud-based workflow that enables efficient exploitation of all content that a broadcaster has acquired, not just the clips that actually make it to air, thereby permitting a different set of editorial decisions to be made for each distribution channel.
Anvato also added support for 360° video content for fully immersive viewing. Content owners, programmers and other OTT service providers can enhance their video offerings by streaming 360° video in virtual reality (VR) with an Anvato player, or they can syndicate videos to 360°-enabled sites like Facebook and YouTube.
As more consumers and enterprises invest in 4K-capable display technology, demand has grown for 4K content to feed those displays in their native resolution. Since many of those living room sets have built-in support for OTT video compression technologies including H.264 and HEVC, it makes sense to deliver streams in those formats. However, live content has proven to be a challenge, both from a cost and a workflow perspective.
Enter the Haivision KB 4K Encoder. By using a Xeon-based server with an Intel graphics co-processor, this cost-effective system delivers great live video via standard streaming formats, filling an important role in both consumer and enterprise applications. With the KB 4K, program providers can choose from a wide selection of streaming formats (MPEG-DASH, RTMP, HLS, MPEG-TS and Haivision’s own SRT) for delivering real-time, high-quality 4K over virtually any IP network.
Elemental Technologies, which is now an Amazon Web Services (AWS) company, showcased its enhanced Elemental Live channel playout solution. This new version adds several enhancements to make OTT delivery of live content more compelling for both programmers and viewers, including customizable live, dynamic graphic overlays, and multi-resolution, multi-protocol delivery to Apple HLS, MPEG-DASH and Transport Streams, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, Adobe Flash and Adobe HDS. Because this system can reside in the cloud, it can support multiple live channels simultaneously and provides configurable redundancy levels. For providers, Elemental Live works with popular DRM systems and provides flexible ad insertion tools that permit customized streams to be delivered to multiple audiences simultaneously. This ever-growing platform was clearly designed to offer professional-grade live playout to viewers across the entire spectrum of viewing devices.
Educators are embracing online video to reach students anywhere they happen to be—in their homes or residence halls, at remote campus locations, or even on different continents. Recording live lectures is one of the most expedient ways to capture large amounts of high-quality content, but the process is complicated by the need to record video of the lecturer and to capture the presentation materials synchronously. The Matrox Monarch LCS lecture capture system greatly simplifies this process by simultaneously recoding both a live camera feed directly from an SDI or HDMI source and presentation materials through an HDMI input. The captured MOV or MP4 files can be recorded directly to a mapped network drive (eliminating the need to do a file transfer) or recorded locally on USB drives or SD cards. For media players that support multiple streams, the content can be delivered as two synchronized streams, or the files can be edited using common software tools to produce a stream combining lecturer images and presentation materials for delivery. With a list price of $2,495, the LCS appliance can replace a stack of separate devices and greatly simplify e-learning workflows for recording live lectures.
The second generation of Sony’s Optical Disc Archive System debuted at NAB Show 2016, providing a significant upgrade by doubling the amount of storage in each cassette, to 3.3 TB. Sony says the updated media is rated for a 100-year shelf life, well beyond the lifespan of linear tape systems. By using high-capacity optical discs packed into multi-disc cassettes, this system provides large capacities in an easily managed container while preserving the ability to access individual discs for disaster recovery. Unlike tape-based systems, the optical drives support previous generations of disc media, eliminating the need to re-record older archives as new generations come to market. Plus, optical media are much more environmentally robust than tapes in terms of tolerated storage temperature and humidity ranges.
Creating—and, more importantly, monitoring and live streaming—360° video in real time just got easier with the Sphere product from Teradek. Working in conjunction with up to four cameras such as the GoPro HERO4, Sphere takes live HDMI inputs from the multiple HD sources and compresses them into a 5 Mb/s H.264 stream. The output signal can be connected via Ethernet to a wireless access point to directly feed on-set or remote Apple laptops or iOS devices, which stitch the signals together to create a real-time panoramic display. Alternately, the signal can be used to feed a 360° headset or to show any angle of the video feed by tracking the motion of a handheld display device as the viewer moves it around in space. With Sphere, live footage can be monitored anywhere during a shoot, permitting live wireless monitoring and streaming from 360° production rigs.
Designing a small, portable production switcher without sacrificing the functionality of larger, more expensive mixers was the challenge that Ross Video took on and conquered with Carbonite Black Solo. The unit offers six HD-SDI inputs and three HDMI inputs that can be routed through any of six floating frame synchronizers. Six outputs (five HD-SDI and one HDMI) can be assigned to any function, such as mixed output or multiscreen preview. Mixing features include up to eight keying layers and built-in storage for four channels of animated or still graphics and clips. Three different configurations of the Carbonite Black Solo are available from Ross Video, including an all-in-one unit with control panel, an economical rack-mount unit with software-only controls, and a rack-mount unit with a separate control surface for easy mounting.
LED lighting technology continues to evolve, with greater flexibility and more features than were ever available with traditional light sources. Two prime examples of this trend are Kino Flo Lighting Systems’ new Diva-Lite LED 20 and 30 DMX. These flat-panel, fully configurable lights offer color temperature selection between 2,700°K and 6,500°K, with dimming that doesn’t flicker or change color temperature through the full range of light output. The new green/magenta control capability allows the hue to be adjusted to balance other lights on set or to match the spectral curves of professional digital cameras. The Diva-Lite LED 20 and 30 can be operated through a built-in control panel or wirelessly, with the use of a Lumen Radio transmitter, as an alternative to DMX cables.
Osprey Video has long been known for high-performance video capture cards. For NAB Show 2016, Osprey has spread its wings to offer Talon G1, a three-channel hardware-based streaming contribution encoder in a small, economical package. The Talon G1 ingests video from multiple formats, encodes it to H.264 and delivers it over IP. This unit can accept 3G/HD-SDI, HDMI or composite analog video inputs and encode up to three streams simultaneously while saving to a TS file, all with frame alignment across all streams for multiple bit rate streaming.
Two operational modes are available. The first, multi-bit rate (MBR), takes a single input and encodes it into three frame-aligned RTMP, RTP and MPEG-2 TS over UDP streams at different bit rates that can be sent to three different destinations, plus record a TS stream. The lecture capture (LC) mode encodes from two inputs simultaneously and sends them to up to two different destinations, enabling traditional classroom-style teaching over the web. The G1 supports embedded audio and unbalanced stereo inputs. Closed captions in EIA-608 and EIA-708 formats are also supported.