Consultant Gary Olson offers his thoughts on what NAB 2018 could, or should, offer attendees. It’s time for a look into his technology crystal ball.
The IP Pavilion traveling show will be present and I always look forward to Sprocket and Start Up land. There will be confusion and lost souls as people try and find their favorite vendor that was acquired by another vendor and changed the name or removed the name. Will the show’s way finder APP have the before and after company names or show them as the “company formerly known as”? Will the acquiring company at least have some brand presence of the former entity so it can be found?
So what new and exciting things can we expect?
Hopefully with SMPTE 2110 mostly approved, there should be lots of vendors showing off their IP product lines. There should also be plenty of vendors with black boxes, digital glue, gateways and helpful products to address the transitional period for the hybrid facility.
This being an Olympic year, there’s usually some announcement. You know like NHK announcing their new 8K channel gizmo. 4K is sooo yesterday!
I sit on the advisory of the Sports Video Group and at a recent meeting, I was discussing 8K with one of the major networks that does lots of remotes of sports events. First I was told that with 8K they can go from 16 cameras down to 4. The next comment was a small issue of lensing. The network believes that with 8K resolution the lenses will need infinite focus but that will be an impossibility. I asked if this has been brought up to our industry's optical guru, Larry Thorpe.
My next question was about storage and transport, the answer was it will never leave a truck. The concept is shoot in 8K and everything downstream is 1080P. Another sports technologist once said if you could watch real 1080P on a 4K monitor it would look great. Of course Larry Thorpe once said the only way to really see 4K is on an 84-in monitor, so what will we need for 8K?
Sony displayed a 3-chip 8K studio camera at IBC 2017. Will we see an updated version at NAB 2018?
Another interesting topic that came up recently at a graphics forum was whether the library and show packages could be in the cloud and accessible remotely or it was still necessary to send disks filled with content to venues. The Olympics were one example, were big hard drives sent to Korea or only big bandwidth? The answer is both.
Coming back to the US, 5G will alleviate all that – won’t it? Sports venues don’t always have great bandwidth or are unwilling to share it with the mobile operators. And on-site security is also an issue. But 5G solves all that doesn’t it? I expect to see the bonded-cell vendors showing 5G, which will be needed if ENG is to adopt 8K. And with crowd-sourced content from phones that claim 4K and 8K shooting capability, 5G will be an imperative.
I expect that UHD and HDR will have considerable presence. Will there be new products or just improved existing products?
As IP makes headway, we are looking at 40G and 100G backbones. With such high bitrates does this mean the end of copper? I don’t think so. In the world of IP don't forget we still need audio and video monitoring, command and control and communications. In any media facility, there are still many things that hang on the system beginning at the capture device, aka camera, microphone or the comms headset. There are visual monitors, speakers test and measurement and command and control requirements. Copper is not dead.
Any discussion about IP must address how these physical devices connect to an infrastructure be it studio or mobile truck. Visualize a typical control room and studio with multiple monitors, scopes, and speakers. And because most systems require a computer interface of some type, there remains the need for additional screens, keyboards and mice.
As SMPTE clarifies ST2110 as a transport standard the discussion then focuses on switches, top of rack, the edge and actual endpoint devices. Is HDMI the standard of choice for monitoring? Do we use copper or fiber? You still need to breakout audio and to what? At the end of the day it’s still an amplifier and speakers. Will even this connectivity go optical? What about comms with the connection from the matrix to the belt pack and from the transceiver to a headset or buds. Will it become copper, fiber or all wireless? Seems like there is the need for lots of breakout gear, fiber media converters and even more problem solvers.
Contribution and Distribution
As production moves towards uncompressed capture and all the K’s, contribution is considered well established. J2K remains the flavor of choice for back hauling from field to studio and from broadcast center to affiliates over both fiber and satellite. NDI, which is a 100mb/s compressed technology, is making some headway in the live stream space.
As NHK moves towards 8K, how do you backhaul 48Gb/s of uncompressed video with 22.2 channels of audio? With NHK predicting the launch of an 8K channel by December 2018, will we see additional 8K contribution technologies at NAB?
ATSC 3.0 is now officially in the game, but what does that mean to operators? Many will need new transmitters, antennas, multiplexers plus a variety of other RF-centric gear. With the start of ATSC 3.0, will broadcasters begin delivering conditional access services? Will we see new contestants with transactional technology for the interactive and subscription aspect of ATSC 3.0? What happens to all that ATSC 1.0 gear? And what about OTA viewers? Will the consumer electronics industry show support for ATSC 3.0? All this shakes out to more opportunities for black boxes, middleware and new tools.
AR/VR and AI
My editor told me NO MORE BUZZWORDS or ACRONYMS! And then we get AR/VR/AI. Someone recently told me that IBM has so many acronyms that they have their own search bot to find definitions and created their own acronym for acronyms, called TLE (Three Letter Acronym).
VR is virtual reality, AR is augmented reality and AI is artificial intelligence. AI is really a catchall for Machine Learning and Deep Learning. One demonstration I saw used AR to graphically show measurements, statistics and tracking integrated with live coverage. The display was visually compelling. You should expect to see a lot of AR/VR presentations and vendors making AI announcements.
So on the WISH’Nside, I’d like to see plenty of interoperable IP products introduced and available.
On the HOPE’N side, I’d like to see a wide range of solutions to assist the hybrid transition period. Don’t forget the need for new test and monitoring products and technologies.
See you at NAB 2018.
Editor’s Note: Gary Olson has a book on IP technology, “Planning and Designing the IP Broadcast Facility – A New Puzzle to Solve”, which is available at bookstores and online.