NAB 2013 Reflections by Adam Wilt

Another NAB has come and gone, along with some time to decompress, recover, wade through the booth literature, and get some perspective on what went on. Herewith, my take on the Big Picture (literally), as well as the smaller, mostly camera-related highlights that caught my eye.

4k: Cameras, displays, and everything in between

Prior to NAB, I was under the impression that 4K would happen about twice as fast as the HD transition did. Why so fast? We already have the cameras, we already have the displays… everything between them, by comparison, is just software.

In Ye Olden Days, every part of the production, storage, postproduction, and transmission chain was built around analog hardware following well-defined standards: 3.58 MHz subcarrier, 13.5 MHz digital sampling; format-specific tape decks, NTSC II encoding and OTA transmission. Moving to HD required replacing all of that with something new.

Now? Sensors and displays are hardware, but the stuff in the middle is a string of ones and zeroes. There aren’t hardware vision mixers any more, just T-handles driving encoders that tell DSPs what proportion of channel A to composite with Channel B. A hard drive doesn’t care if it’s storing 720p, 1080i, 1080p or 2160p, or whether the images refresh at 23.98 Hz, 50Hz, or 59.94Hz. You can wrap anything in a broadcast transport stream; it’s just bits.

But having seen NAB, I’m now betting on an even faster transition. Almost every bit (pun intended) of that in-between stuff was available in a 4K version somewhere at the show. Evertz has a 4K slo-mo replay recorder, the “Dreamcatcher”. Abekas has the Mira 4K server. Utah Scientific has a 4k routing switcher. Blackmagic Design offered a suite of 4K products using 6G-SDI, including a 4K version of the ATEM vision mixer. All of these are available now. read more...

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