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Watching Content Come to Life at the 2016 NAB Show

by: Jeff McPherson Chief Digital Officer

Where do I begin? Let’s start with a little background on what I just experienced. Every April out in Las Vegas, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) who’ve been around since 1923, put on the NAB Show. “Where Content Comes to Life”, the show’s tagline proclaims. “At a trade show for broadcasting technology?” you might be thinking. You read that right. We have to remember that we no longer live in a siloed media delivery world anymore. Users expect an experience to seamlessly cover all forms and NAB covered it all.

SilverTech was invited to attend this year’s NAB Show after a great launch and a successful new digital strategy for our long-term partner, Artel Video Systems, a world class provider of broadcast-quality media transport solutions. They had just completed the acquisition of Communications Specialists, Inc. (CSI), creating one of the market’s largest portfolios – hence the need for a new website and strategy – and were to unveil their new corporate identity at the show. I wanted to be on hand to help them promote and get to know who they work with a bit more. I should have listened better when Artel CEO, Mike Rizzo said to us…”It’s big… like really big.”

I have attended shows all over the country in many different industries and thought this would be similar. Wrong. I have never seen anything quite like it: 1 million square feet with about 2,000 exhibitors of technology and innovation. To take it all in, I averaged 17,000 steps and 12 miles of walking each day!

With a plethora of storage companies, broadcast technology, live overlay platforms, delivery security, and, of course, display and viewing technology on hand, my feeling heading to Vegas was that much of the show wasn’t going to relate to what we do at SilverTech. The reality on the ground in Vegas was that this entire show needs to be seen and experienced by digital agencies like ours. Sure, it was great to immerse myself in all of the fantastic 8k presentations and see first hand where video is going and what it will mean to the broadcast delivery industry, but, I realized that understanding this industry is what truly bridges the gap in user experience between digital and traditional. I dislike both of those terms, by the way. Let’s just say this was more than a broadcasting technology show, it was also an amazing marketing conference.

Marketing is about creating a reaction, getting a reaction, etc. In almost any scenario, I can challenge you that the foundation is content… When you have content, you also have to have delivery.

Let’s take a look at 3 key elements from the show that I believe will significantly impact companies like SilverTech:

Display Technology

  • The floor space at NAB looked at times brighter than Times Square! LED and general display technology was big. Seeing a 3-story billboard at 8k was truly amazing. The Planar (a Leyard company) display cashed in at 1.9 million dollars but at 8k, marketers to major tourism departments could literally place Hawaii in lower manhattan…in February…when it is miserably cold. I swear from the demo I felt like I could walk out on the beach. Panels are adjustable, so while it would be great to have something that big, this is much more cost effective in smaller sizes.
  • Another crowd pleaser in displays were transparent 4k panels. This was something more eye catching and impressive but could be very practical in museums, hospitals, or any scenario that involved training behind glass. Imagine seeing 4k video at the Smithsonian with ancient artifacts behind it. I think we will see more applications here over time.

Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

  • Virtual reality had an entire wing of one of the halls and was probably the most fun to people watch, as users with giant goggles swung their heads around with smiles on their faces. VR has fantastic applications in our world. Besides already proven-use cases in teaching, healthcare scenarios, and entertainment, we see VR becoming heavily invested by brands looking to take experiences to the people. Imagine colleges creating roadshows with VR experiences of classrooms, labs, campus life, and dorms 3,000 miles away!

Drone Technology

  • By now, we have all seen Drones and what drones can do. What was impressive was the sheer number of companies and increased applications that filming and content creation with a drone can accomplish. There were well over 100 companies providing drones or components to work with drones. Agencies can truly benefit since two core aspects in drones have changed for the better: The general costs have been reduced and the controls have improved quite a bit. Compound that with lighter and better camera technology and it allows for agencies of all sizes to begin shooting more advanced productions. We experienced drones that could carry a simple GoPro camera for backyard or quite user generated content to a system that could hold over 270 pounds of gear.

I have a feeling that my experience at this year’s NAB Show will continue to resonate for some time. Despite my initial hesitations, it truly revealed itself to be “Where Content Comes to Life.” Agencies take heed, these are the experiences users are expecting, not in the future, but today.

Did you attend the 2016 NAB Show? Share your takeaways below and connect with us to learn more about our work for Artel Video Systems.