NAB 2016 Announcements

NAB opens this morning, and as usual, there are all sorts of new announcements to sort through. First off, HP announced a significant change to their Z1 All-In-One workstation. The Z1 Gen3 now offers a 24″ 4K screen, much smaller and lighter than the 27″ of previous generations. It has 2 Thunderbolt3 ports, and dual M.2 slots for fast storage. I can definitely envision this being used on-set by media managers and DITs. The biggest limitation that I see is that the GPU is limited to the Quadro M2000M, with only 640 cores. My laptop has twice that many. Why upgrade from a laptop if not for more GPU power? HP also announced that their high performance Remote Graphics Software can now be used to stream your workstation power to OSX users.

Adobe has a host of new features for their Creative Cloud subscribers, primarily in Premiere Pro. In preparation for 6K and 8K workflows, they now offer an integrated proxy workflow. This is a shift from the all native approach they have been pushing, but we are seeing that acquisition formats have once again surpassed available playback performance. Even the fastest available computers can’t play back compressed 6K files smoothly, let alone 8K. Adobe also offers the option for fully integrate file management, somewhat similar to what Avid users are used to. Premiere can automatically copy all of your assets to one location as you import them. They offer new HSL Secondaries in Lumetri color which I know users have been looking for. I have been trying to get staff that I work with to do more color in Premiere, and secondaries has been the main complaint when I get resistance to that workflow idea, so hopefully this will alleviate that deficiency. They are also starting to integrate support for editing 360 video, which is something I hope to start experimenting with more, as soon as I can capture some usable 360 video.

AJA has a long list of new products they are announcing at the show. The one with the broadest reach will be the Kona IP, giving dedicated IP Video output to nearly any application that currently supports Kona. They released the FS3 a few months ago, that provided 4K upconversion to any video signal, which is now followed by the FS4, as a full up/down/cross conversion for any format from SD to 4K. The FS4 can also handle four independent HD streams at all different settings. A totally new product for AJA is their HELO which encodes a live SDI or HDMI input to H264. The H264 streams can be recorded to USB or SD storage, and/or streamed out to the internet from an ethernet port. It allows separate encodes for the recording and streaming, up to 20Mb/s. Another new product is the U-Tap, which is a USB3.0 capture device for SDI or HDMI, depending on the version. This is similar to the T-Tap, which was a Thunderbolt output device for SDI and HDMI. It is a universal video component, which will be compatible with lots of apps on any OS, from Skype to VLC to YouTube Live. There are also many new variations to existing products, in new form factors or interfaces. There are also firmware upgrades to many of their main existing products, including the CION, KiPro Ultra, and others.

There will be a lot of new products offered at the show that offer video over network or fiber. These can be challenging to sort through, since there are at least 3 different approaches that are incompatible with each other. SDI over fiber has been available for a few years, and simply extends the Serial Digital Interface over longer distances over fiber optic cables instead of copper coax. It adds no new capabilities or features, just longer distances with thinner cables. HD-BaseT uses ethernet cables to transmit video data and power over point to point connections. It transmits the information in a different form than SDI, closer to the nature of HDMI signals, but also includes power, encoded audio, and bidirectional data.  IP Video uses traditional packet based network technology to transmit video on industry standard networks, using any existing physical interface, as long as it has the bandwidth available. This allows uncompressed video data to be routed through existing high bandwidth data networks, including twisted pair ethernet, CX4, SFP+, or any other IP based network technology. This virtualizes the entire I/O process, similar to how media servers virtualized tape decks. Originally, there were digital VTRs, which mimicked deck functionality, but now most of that has been totally replaced with truly file based workflows. I expect the same thing to happen with video routing eventually, with all devices just connected to the data network, and inter-operating together. With all of the competing standards being developed, that inter-operability may be a ways away, but we are actively moving in that direction, and Kona IP is one of the first visible steps.

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