May 1, 2011

NAB 2011, Sony Press Conference

At the Sony press conference, we were treated to a live broadcast in 3D HD of the Masters golf tournament. The producers/directors of these sporting events are clearly becoming skilled at harnessing the 3D technology to full effect. They had camera angles from right at green’s edge, providing an almost hyper-real depth of field from the golfer’s POV. It was quite impressive.

Sony’s biggest technology unveiling, and one of the most talked about of the show, is their F65 CineAlta 4K resolution professional video camera. Veteran Hollywood filmmaker Curtiss Clark (here with Alec Shapiro, SR VP Sony Pro Solutions) and other industry professionals are proclaiming that this camera shoots images SUPERIOR to film. That goal has been the Holy Grail of video image capture for decades. It looks like its been achieved once and for all.

NAB 2011 - James Cameron Keynote

James Cameron, alongside his longtime technology partner Vince Pace, gave the NAB keynote. This was rather unusual, as the NAB keynote is usually given by a studio/broadcast CEO, or a Washington mover such as the FCC Chairman. Cameron is evangelizing about helping content producers realize 3D’s full potential as a creative and powerful storytelling medium. He also announced the founding of his new company Cameron-Pace in Burbank, which is a technology and production services company, who’s “goal is to banish all the perceived and actual barriers to entry that are currently holding back producers, studios and networks from embracing their 3D future.”

Cameron gave a message during the CES 2009 Panasonic press conference in support of the launch of their new 3D home video systems. No one there could imagine that the film he was working on, Avatar, would turn out to be the record breaking blockbuster of all time. So little more than two years later, the entire industry is now paying close attention to what Cameron has to say and the moves he's making.

NAB 2011 Highlights

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), held yearly in Las Vegas, is anything but just about broadcasting. It is exhibits and conferences on everything to do with media … film, video, internet, you name it. I’ve attended almost every year since the mid-80’s, and have seen industry sea changes year after year.
As I peered out over the expanse of one of the several show floors, I recalled how time and again the industry players can quickly shift places. I remember at an NAB in the late 1980's seeing a tiny booth of an unknown startup company showing a Macintosh-based non-linear editing system. Within a few minutes of seeing what the system could do, I predicted that this was the future of video editing. Well, that company was Avid, and it did indeed portend the future of video post production. Avid has, for the past several years, had one of the largest exhibits at NAB, and this year was no exception. At the time in the late 1980’s when I first discovered Avid, Abekas was one of the big player at the show, with their leading edge disk-based digital compositing/effects systems. Well, some twenty years later they’re back to being an unknown, with a tiny booth and a single product offering. Funny how the industry-wide “gales of change” are constantly shifting the landscape.

NAB 2011 - Key Issues:

  • 3D production process (James Cameron Keynote).
  • Transmedia: ubiquity, interoperability of content across all platforms/devices.
  • "Content in the Cloud"
  • Auto Stereoscopic content and technology