Let’s establish one thing right from the start: there were way more than 16 things of note that happened at NAB this year, just like there are every year. To quickly illustrate that point, Blackmagic alone had 14 press releases ready for attendees of their press conference, and that was down from what they rolled out last year. AJA had 16 updates and new products. The enormity of NAB is something to behold, and even if we did a “Top 100 Updates and Announcements from NAB”, we’d still be leaving plenty unsaid.
That’s the long way of saying the goal here isn’t to tell you about everything, but instead to showcase the news, happenings and products that stuck out the most to us. There will be plenty that we’ve left unsaid, but when you’re talking about a show that has a preliminary registered attendance of 103,012 along with an exhibition that featured 1,874 companies spanning 1,063,380 net square feet of exhibit space, there are naturally going to be a few things that aren’t going to be detailed.
That’s enough about what we can’t tell you about the event though. Let’s explore what we can tell you about the products, developments, people and plenty more from NAB 2016.
8K has Arrived
On the show floor of NAB for many years now we’ve been seeing monitors and displays that tout the benefits of 4K. Everywhere you looked there was a monitor or display that was designed to show attendees how 4K could do everything from re-frame shots for distribution at lower resolutions to create a better visual experience for the viewer. Whether or not viewers can actually see the difference 4K represents over HD is something that many in the industry continue to debate, but such things have in no way impacted the progress of the technology, as we’ve now moved onto 8K which attendees could experience at the 8K Ride Experience at NAB 2016.
Canon wasn’t the only exhibitor to talk up 8K capabilities, although most of these tools and displays are still in the prototype phase. While saying that 8K has “arrived” might be a bit disingenuous since we’re talking about something that’s really only a prototype, it’s important to recognize how the conversation is being moved forward. The push to higher resolutions isn’t going to slow down anytime soon, and that’s despite some not being convinced of the merits of 4K productions, much less how things like HDR and wide color gamut impact the conversation.
Nonetheless, NAB 2016 proved the push and perhaps even the desire for these higher resolutions is as pervasive as ever.
VR has (sort of) Arrived
With all the talk of virtual reality (VR), you would have thought every booth at the event was going to have a section dedicated to the technology. As it happened though, only a handful of booths had anything specifically dedicated to VR, and the VR Pavilion was all the way over in North Hall.
That said, the interest in the technology is clearly there, which is something that was apparent for both attendees and exhibitors. The VR Pavilion had everyone trying on headsets and it was clear that many attendees were impressed with what they were seeing. Exhibitors like AMD, Maxon and even GoPro had dedicated sections and tools that showcased what sorts of capabilities are there for both viewers and creators. Our own Neil Smith was bouncing around the event with his 360º camera where he interviewed pros like Bill Roberts from Adobe, creators Josh and Jason Diamond as well as the general manager of Deluxe’s VR Division.
VR definitely had a strong presence at NAB 2016, and what was here supported the notion that this technology has far more staying power than a passing fad. Look for it to have an even bigger presence next year and beyond.
Additions and Improvements to the Sony Ecosystem
As production and post environments become that much more complicated with countless additions of tools and procedures, manufacturers have recognized a desire and even a need to simplify what it means to work in these environments. That was a concept that was underneath what the presenters at the Sony press conference had to say, where John Studdert and Peter Crithary were among the many speakers and presenters to take the stage. Many of them focused on a lens to living room ecosystem, and a discussion with working professionals was centered on how these tools are being used.
Products like the Media Backbone Hive and the 55-inch OLED monitor PVM-X550 were announced at the event, and these products go a long way toward building and creating and supporting this ecosystem. Cameras are and always will be a focus for Sony though, which is why we saw Sony President Alec Shapiro take the stage to introduce the HDC-4800, a 4K 8x ultra high frame rate camera system. Many of the priorities we discussed with Alec are being taken to the next level with the camera and these announcements.
Check out what Brian Hallett had to say about the event and all of these products for plenty more detail.
A Few New and Upgraded Tools for the Professional
As Jose Antunes has already written, AMD releasing the world’s first workstation graphics card with 32GB is a pretty big deal, but that was only one of the products they showcased at the event. Their FireRender technology is OpenCL based software that can run anywhere, and brings users that much closer to the GPU, allowing them to make it suit their particular needs. We mentioned the software that can be utilized to create VR content above, but hardware is a big consideration as well, and AMD had you covered. The Radeon Pro Duo graphics card is capable of developing and driving VR experiences, and they’ve already announced a plugin for 3ds Max, and more are on the way.
The big announcement for AJA was around their KONA IP, which is desktop video and audio I/O for professional IP-based workflows, which is likely to be a big deal. Their FS4, HELO and U-TAP were also highlights for the company, but those were obviously just a few of the products they rolled out at NAB 2016. Scott Simmons stopped by their press conference so check out his piece to learn more about these new products.
As we mentioned, Blackmagic had a whole heap of news for NAB, the highlight of which was probably the Blackmagic Duplicator 4K. Brian Hallett has already put together his thoughts on this product, which you’d assume would be the biggest of the show, but apparently not for the members of the media. At their press conference, Grant Perry actually got a bit of applause for the announcement about the price of the Blackmagic Micro Converters. The DaVinci Resolve 12.5 Public Beta is also pretty big news, and Steve Hullfish has written up his favorite things about this version.
The big news from Atomos at NAB was around the introduction of the Shogun Inferno, which sits as the flagship model in the new 8-strong Átomos HDR line-up. Allan Tepper laid out a few details around the announcement, but the highlight of their booth might have been one of the more clever approaches to giving attendees something interesting to frame up.
Last year, ARRI introduced us to their latest LED light, the Skypanel. This year they announced they added a number of features to it, but you can find out plenty more about that by listening to the interview PVC contributor Nathan Thompson conducted on the show floor.
Figuring Out VR
As exciting as VR is, two of the biggest questions it faces are around how it’s going to be both utilized and monetized. Many creatives aren’t sure what tools they can utilize to create worthwhile VR content, or what they can use to allow viewers to see it.
Google Cardboard is out there in terms of a means of distribution, but Maxon has put together software and hardware that might feel a bit closer to home for creatives. At NAB 2016, they were handing out boxes that were similar in form and function to Google Cardboard and allow users to have a VR experience using little more than their smart phone. Plus, Cinema 4D already has the capabilities to render virtual reality videos. However, VR might not be what we should be focused on.
Paul Babb, President/CEO at MAXON, mentioned that instead of VR, we should be keeping our eyes on augmented reality (AR). And it makes sense. VR forces the viewer to lock themselves off from the world, while an AR interface allows the user to see the physical world in a much more powerful way. Terminator Vision is going to be a real thing very soon, and there is clearly an interest in the technology.
Drones Take Center Stage…Literally
Drones have been a mainstay of NAB for years now, and it’s a technology that many have watched mature incredibly quickly. Drones went from being complicated to the point that even experienced flyers struggled with the controls to a tool that can conceivably be handled via an app on a smart phone or tablet.
Just as the technology has matured, so has their place in the event. In previous years drones had been scattered about the show floor, but last year most of the drone companies were pulled into the Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion in South Upper Hall. We stopped by to talk details with organizers Jeff Foster and Mannie Francis last year, and heard firsthand what made it such a success.
This year, the Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion moved down to the much more accessible Central Hall, and the area proved to be one of the most popular at the show. With presentations throughout each day along with even more drone exhibitors, drones have proven what kind of an impact they can have on the industry, and that will only increase as the technology matures and legal restrictions are eased.
The Evolution of NLE’s
Over at the Adobe booth, many of the presentations once again spilled into the aisles, as you simply cannot find an empty seat when Robbie Carman and Maxim Jago are presenting. As always though, the updates to creative cloud are what most people want to know about, and Rich Young has covered those details. In talking with some of the folks from Adobe though, it was interesting to hear them say the updates were more about performance and stability, rather than a massive amount of new features. Integration is a key focus for Adobe, and that’s something other companies have been able to take advantage of to create better experiences for users.
Integration was a key component for Avid as well, and the company continues to focus on expanded capabilities and features of Avid Everywhere. The big announcement for Avid was Avid NEXIS, which is their next generation of shared storage. Check out more about NEXIS and what else Avid had to showcase from the Avid Connect 2016 event.
For both companies, it’s clear they’ve recognized that they need to think beyond features, and their updates and announcements at NAB 2016 highlighted that reality more than any others in the past.
The Importance of Integration
We just mentioned how companies like Adobe and Avid have recognized how important integration is for them, and it’s something many software companies have taken advantage of to create better experiences for users. Just to give you a few quick examples, project management platform ftrack now includes native integration support for Photoshop, Premiere Pro and After Effects CC. Screenlight announced new video annotation and drawing tools which can deliver client feedback for editors, and that includes Adobe Premiere Pro CC integration. Additionally, Wipster is practically integrating with everyone, including Adobe and even Vimeo. These efforts are working to standardize a review and approval process and enable better communication between people.
There have been a slew of review and approval tools released over the past year or so, but this focus on integration will enable these tools to function in a much more powerful way and ensure effective collaboration. Wipster CEO Rollo Wenlock mentioned the feedback he often receives is that “it just works”, and such an experience is a relief for anyone who’s seen a project stall due to the people involved not being able to get on the same page.
Live from NAB
For several years now, Teradek’s Live Show at NAB has been one of highlights of the event, with sessions that range from insights about new tools to deep discussions around topics like digital asset management to wrap-ups of what happened on the show floor. Professionals from all corners of the industry come together to present in the glass cube, and the 2016 sessions might have been the most packed yet.
Last year, PVC took the stage to present The State of the Industry and The Anatomy of an Edit, which were both especially well received. This year Art Adams hosted The Role of a DP and Tips and Tricks for the Job. On Wednesday Scott Simmons hosted Where We Are Now featuring Adam Wilt, Michael Kammes, and the guys talked through the ever-changing landscape of cheap cameras, always connected internet, post-production on a laptop and overnight shipping.
Check out the Teradek Vimeo page to see all of their presentations from NAB 2016.
Wandering Out of the Convention Center
The show floor of NAB is something to behold, but there’s plenty going on during the show hours and right around the corner from the event. Scott connected with Sam Mestman for a tour of the ShareStation Workflow Suite, but there were plenty of things happening just off the show floor.
Over at the Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel, companies like Scale Logic and Levels Beyond had suites where they hosted press conferences and presentations. Philip Hodgetts & Gregory Clarke announced some big Lumberjack news at the FCP Exchange, and that update made the list for some as the best of NAB 2016.
It’s easy to get lost on the show floor, but such things are a good reminder that there’s a lot happening not far from the event during show hours, and stepping away from the convention center can be beneficial for multiple reasons.
Experts and Experience at NAB
It’s no secret that NAB is one event that people all across the industry make it a point to come out for, and it pulls in everyone from professionals at the highest levels to people who just view it as a hobby. One glance at the #NABshow hashtag gives you an idea of how many different kinds of people attend the event.
The true benefit of that is what attendees are able to experience during sessions, at events like Post|Production World or even the training that happens throughout the day at booths. To give you an example, we were able to sit and listen to the end of a discussion at the Canon booth moderated by Tim Smith, and the importance of DIT’s came up. Larry and Steven Poster discussed how and why a DIT can be a safety net for a cinematographer, and that if a producer needs to save money, it’s going to be better for the project as a whole if they don’t try to do so by cutting the DIT. Great insight for anyone working in production at any level.
It’s being able to interact with such people that makes being at the show meaningful, and both Larry and Steven talked with attendees after their session, like most others do. It’s not just connecting with presenters though, as you’ll find experts like Jem Schofield working booths, where attendees could connect with him about the DP Kit that he created, or whatever else you want to ask him. NAB is one of the few places where you can do such things with an incredible array of professionals.
Rise of the Machines
Sometimes it’s not enough to tell you about the advancements in automation. Sometimes that’s something you need to see for yourself. So watch the short video below to get a better understanding around how far things have come.
Making Time to Connect
Want to ask Michael Kammes about a recent episode of 5 Things? Curious about something Philip Hodgetts mentioned on the Terence and Philip Show? Have a question for Christian Jones about an article he published on PVC? If so, the SuperMeet was the place to be, because those professionals along with plenty of others were in attendance. Attendees are able to connect with those sorts of professionals in the intimate settings of the SuperMeet, and also win a prize or two.
We already mentioned the pros that are at panels and working the booths at NAB, and there’s no doubt that you have a unique opportunity to connect with them on the show floor. But events like the SuperMeet are more relaxed and intimate, and it’s really a place where you can have a conversation, as opposed to needing to limit yourself to a question or two in order to let someone rush off to what they have to do next. Plus, you get presentations from people like Al Mooney, Rob Legato, Alex Gollner and plenty more, so the event has something for everyone. It’s a really fun time, and if you still don’t believe us, here’s proof…
— Ginstah (@greenboxfilms) April 20, 2016
Seeing Is Believing
Exhibitors are always trying to find ways and reasons to keep and pull an audience, but this year a few went an extra mile and hired magicians to perform magic tricks that illustrated points relevant to things like storage and workflow. It feels like a bit of a reach to say that the old cutting a rope in half trick is an especially good representation of a shared storage solution environment, but these people pulled crowds, which is all that really matters at the event.
It’s not just the gimmicks that get you at NAB though. It’s the gear and products you’ll never see anywhere else. It’s proof of the appeal of a show like NAB, because of course there are the walls of gear and lenses, but you also get vehicles and devices the likes of which you might never see in the real world. There’s creativity on display here that can give attendees a whole different perspective around what kind solutions are going to be most relevant to them.
The Building of a Brand
2015 was a big year for the NAB Show brand, as we saw the announcement of NAB Shanghai as well as the rebrand of CCW into NAB New York. At NAB 2016, it seemed like they were particularly interested in promoting the Shanghai event, as they had a booth as well as promotional materials displayed in various places. NAB New York certainly isn’t an afterthought though.
Many professionals are on an “NAB/IBC” schedule in terms of the updates and announcements they look for every year, and the pushes NAB is making in New York and Shanghai make us wonder whether these shows are designed to cut into that mindset, or offer something that will be especially different. These are early days for both shows, but seeing how they are (or aren’t) designed to be different is something to keep an eye on.
Plus, it’s never too early to start talking about the next event in Las Vegas, is it?
Not long after the tragedy in Brussels, NAB announced they would be adding additional security procedures and law enforcement personnel at the show, and the additional personnel were on full display. Almost every entrance of the show had Las Vegas police offices on duty, and at least one police dog was being led around by a handler. And those were simply the precautions that we could see publically.
The necessity of such precautions is a reality of the times we live in, but the additional security really didn’t hinder getting into or out of the event in any manner. People attending a football game have to go through more to get into the venue, and it’s a great thing that the show organizers clearly made security a priority without going overboard. Here’s hoping we’ll soon reach a point when such things aren’t noteworthy.
We’ll see you at NAB 2017
Stay tuned to the NAB channel on PVC for more articles and videos from other articles about NAB 2016, and let us know what stood out to you the most about the event in the comment section below.