NAB 2017: Video Trends to Keep an Eye On (The Good, The Bad, The Ugly)
NAB is back in 2017 with a vengeance. Five days of endless booths, massive crowds, and new technology. Last year saw a lot of new progress in the world of 360 and VR. This year, while nothing super new and groundbreaking was launched, everything was upgraded. Made better, smarter, and stronger. This means that the tentative, untested tech from last year has found an audience and a use. Uses that you’ll want to know of if video and digital media play any part in your company. Check out my list of favorites from NAB 2017.
What is it? 360 Video and Virtual Reality (VR)
Why should you care? Much like the Starks of Winterfell like to say, “VR is coming.” Last year’s NAB saw a couple of booths with VR cameras and headsets. This year saw so much more: there was a sprawling cross-section of companies making 360 cameras, VR headsets, editing and graphic plugins, stitching software, and accessories. Companies like Nokia, Facebook, and Google were all showing off their new 360 cameras. Amazon has a new 360 stitching and hosting platform. HP was showcasing their mobile VR backpack. With so many established companies on board, 360 video and VR are not maybes…they are an inevitability.
What is it? Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR)
Why should you care? Virtual reality is great, but disappearing into a headset is not always an option. That’s where AR and MR come into play. Augmented reality takes a computer graphic and overlays it on top of a camera image…let’s say from your phone. It’s a helpful way to integrate extra information into the real world. Still confused? Think Google Glass. Or for fun, think Pokemon Go on your smartphone. Both great examples of AR in your daily life.
Mixed reality is similar, but almost in reverse. Where AR’s base is adding the virtual to reality, MR is about adding the real to virtual. Basically adding a third person view into a live game or application. This allows viewers to experience a world, application, or game in a way that no one else has. Expect to see both of these applications grow in the near future.
What is it? High-Dynamic Range (HDR)
Why should you care? Last year saw the first steps into HDR, but this year we witnessed companies jumping in, each with a variety of HDR monitors. What is HDR? It’s what your smartphone has been doing for years. It’s a method of overexposing, underexposing, and correctly exposing an image, then merging them together to create the best image. This has been complicated in a world of moving images, but monitoring options have finally caught up and are able to display the right image. Now, most major broadcast companies (as well as Netflix and Amazon) are requiring delivery in HDR.
What is it? 4K, 6K, and 8K Monitoring
Why should you care? If you’ve bought a TV in the past year, it’s probably been 4K. More pixels, more information, more color, more clarity. 4K took the video world by storm and at AMP we almost shoot exclusively in 4K. Much like processor computing, the minds behind sensor chips keep plugging away at creating a better, more inexpensive chip. It’s simple future-proofing for your project and gives you flexibility with how you want to deliver it.
What is it? Cloud Everything
Why should you care? The cloud is not new. It’s been around for a decade and you probably use it to store your photos, documents, music, etc. Historically, cloud storage has been hard to use in professional video production. Slow internet speeds, expensive storage options, and large file sizes have made it a costly option to swallow. This NAB show saw those barriers shrinking, and in some places, going away. The ability to easily back up terabytes of data to redundant cloud servers means your content is always safe. Transcoding and delivering in the cloud means your media goes where it needs to go, when it needs to be there, and as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s even possible to shoot video in the field, while simultaneously sending small proxy files to the cloud. This means an editor can start working on your project BEFORE the cameraman has even left set.
What is it? Machine Learning
Why should you care? Skynet is taking over. Machine learning, whether you realize it or not, is everywhere. It’s slowly making information easier to understand and is helping us make decisions based on real data. Much like your photo app can tag all of the photos with your face in it, machine learning can do the same for video. It can quickly identify people, places, things, and actions, which speeds up the ingest and edit process. With machine learning, the possibilities are endless: stitching and transcoding video in the cloud, helping you push video ads to the right people on social media, and managing your metadata to name a few. Machine learning even wrote it’s own short film script! It’s terrible…but I’ve also seen a lot worse.
Bonus photo! This crazy POV 360 headset rig from ZCam. Probably the most creative way to hide the DP or Director on set during a 360 shoot.