Each year, the SMPTE Australia Section runs a post NAB seminar (a highlight Section Meeting in our calendar), where a handful of NAB attendees speak about their major observations on equipment and trends in the industry, as revealed at the annual NAB show in Las Vegas.

Because of the considerable time and cost required to attend a trade show on the other side of the planet from Australia, the Post-NAB event is always well attended by a large enthusiastic audience of those who would normally make great use of such an opportunity, but are too busy or too impoverished for the “annual junket”.


Held on 21st May in Sydney, this year’s Post NAB was hosted by EMC2 computing, a firm who specialize in (amongst many things) IT storage facilities and analytics services, with clearly much to offer our evolving industry.

Their enthusiasm, hospitality and facility presentation was much appreciated, and their interest in our industry did not go un-noticed by the attendees.



2012 is proving to be a year of major change in the industry and its attendant technologies, as the speakers presentations amply demonstrated.

Change” constituted the major observations from NAB, and included:

  • The move to web and cloud-based production, storage and customer delivery of electronic media assets.
  • The vastly reduced costs of production equipment (better, faster and cheaper every year), the opportunities thus created, and the consequent changes to “who will be doing it with what” in the production world.
  • The movement to replace traditional broadcasting equipment with lower-cost generic industrial computer equipment, loaded with software applications that perform and replace the roles of traditional hardware-based appliances.
  • The growing influence of social media and its disruptive supporting technologies, impacting traditional broadcasting.
  • The analytic technologies that help address social-media enabled audiences and predict and analyse their current (and future) electronic media consumption behavior.

Each speaker’s presentation is presented in more detail, later in this story,, and there are links to their original documents.

If we think we’ve finally completed the conversion to digital, then we need to think again.  It’s a whole new second wave of change just beginning. Kind of scary but very cool!


As ever, Australia Section’s excellent contacts network drew in over 80 attendees , from TV and radio networks, telco providers, production houses, equipment suppliers and integrators, plus independent consultants and freelances.   As always, non-Members and old-hands were welcome and we had many of both.   Drawing this strongly representative spread is not only a major service to the industry by SMPTE, it also represents a major asset to sponsors and suppliers of equipment and services.


Three speakers were chosen to represent a variety of perspectives on the state of the industry as seen through the window of the NAB show

Stephen Hemsworth


Stephen Hemsworth  http://au.linkedin.com/in/hemsworth Senior Account Manager – Business Development – Mediafrom EMC2 welcomed attendees and presenters, and Tim Stackpool http://au.linkedin.com/in/timstackpool from TVSN and AV Industry Magazine introduced the presenters.

Tim Stackpool


 John Maizels, industry writer with CX magazine and SMPTE Director of International Sections, wrapped up the session and facilitated some Q&A.


John Maizels, Trevor Bird, Stuart Poynton and Charles Sevior

STUART POYNTON: National Business Manager at camera systems supplier Lemac, focused mainly on new acquisition technologies, revealing to us the development of many essential new building block devices vital to the progressing of acquisition systems as a whole.

  • He pointed to 4k being the flavour of the year, involving the full arc of  shooting, encoding, editing, storage, display and movie dissemination.
  • Whilst 4k displays and codecs were plentiful, with product to be seen, development on the actual camera blocks is lagging a bit behind.
  • Prototype 4k LCD monitors were shown by Sony, and Panasonic showed a 150” 4k display. Another supplier, Band Pro, demonstrated a genuine 1920×1080 eyepiece viewfinder that can be retrofitted to many different camera rigs.
  • Zoom lenses and cinema-style primes were offered, to go with the popular large-block cameras.
  • Steadicam demonstrated a re-worked and more ergonomic arm and vest system.
  • Australian manufacturers BlackMagic Design and Atomos had stands which attracted major attention, and offered “game changing” acquisition products.

Dan from Black Magic shows their cine camera

You can view Stuart’s full video report at http://www.lemac.com.au/GeneralNews/The2012NABReview.aspxon the Lemac web site, and no doubt many of these new products will soon appear in the Lemac inventory for the new generation of electronic cinematographers and videographers to use in their work.


TREVOR BIRD from the Seven Network spoke next, focusing on the following themes:

  • His view that whilst the technological innovation “was not Earth-moving” the prices of technology had fallen markedly, creating capabilities and opportunities through value (performance and quality per dollar spent)
  • The intense buzz around 3D at previous NABs has subsided into a new normality, (being replace by the 4k buzz) heading to  a “zero delta” in cost between shooting 2D and 3D, and that 2D and 3D shooting styles have efficiently converged.
  • That free-to-air television is receiving (“at last”) a well-deserved resurgent shot in the arm from the growing phenomenon of “Second Screen viewing”, supported by some useful emerging technologies.
  • That NAB attendances are on a gentle rise since bottoming in 2009.



Trevor drew our attention to the BlackMagic  Design phenomenon, with their large and well-attended stand, and the extraordinary value offered by their broad and growing range of low cost broadcast equipment. In particular, Trevor noted their Terranex processor priced around $2000 and the ATEM 2ME switcher at around $20,000.


(Other manufacturers must be frantically reviewing their pricing and business plans in the light of this. A whole new range of equipment and facility owners is thus being enabled, therefore changing the whole landscape of our industry, and who has what, and who can do what– Editor)


Trevor’s other favourite toys that illustrate these trends included:

  • The Omnicam 360 degree HD camera, using multiple stitched HD cameras mounted together, allowing operators to freely “pan” “tilt” and “zoom” multiple camera shots around each Omnicam’s viewing position. Trevor hypothesised that two or three Omnicams could provide coverage for a traditional sports OB. (Parsimonious producers and network bean-counters will love this one— Editor)



  • Low-cost ($399) “Photo Higher” camera mounted on a “toy” 4-rotor helicopter

  • The “Steddiepod” a simple all purpose tripod/monopod camera support.
  • A DSLR camera mounted on a low-cost flying fox rig (though possibly an OH&S challenge if used in the real world around lawyered-up humans!)
  • A “Camarobot”, being a camera mounted on a gigantic industrial robot arm
  • A Canon DSLR camera designed specifically (not just as heretofore fortuitously used) for cinematography.
  • The Low-cost ($299) GoPro action cameras rapidly evolving, now to include WiFi remote control.
  • The $200 “Epic” streamlined POV action camera, that can also shoot infrared HD.
  • A $120,000 stabilised camera mounted on a large spherical rubber ball, that can provide stable traveling shots, rolling along a football sideline or rolling and floating across the water at a surf carnival. It climbs a 32 degree gradient and can even maintain 6kmh in water.
  • Refinements in portable camera links over 3G and 4G phone networks, using multiple bonded modems in a  back-of-camera mounted pack. Obvious live ENG applications

Bonded 3G/4G link TX from Teradek

  • ENG-TV-style PL-mount lenses from Fujinon, for large-block cameras, complete with TV-style servos, allowing for “normal” TV camerawork with this new class of camera.
  • A wide range of compact, powerful LED lights, shaped in panels and rings, typically drawing only 40Watts
  • The AJA KiPro HD broadcast recorders, coming in at $2000 and $4000
  • A Tricaster OB-in-a-box system complete with an attached tiny Mercedes Smart car.
  • A no-goggles 3D display demonstrated by Dolby Labs, consisting of a lenticular plate in front of a generic monitor display, also allowing viewers to be located in off-axis viewing positions.
  • A 3D laser projector from RED, that simultaneously projects the left and right images, improving 3D panniong artifacts, and arguably reducing eye strain.

Laser projector from Red.


  • A “NICT” 3D 200” display exhibit using 64 video projectors, and goggles-free viewing.

One wonders which of these technologies are just the annual NAB fairground freak-show attractions, or those which might go on seriously to change the way we do our work.


CHARLES SEVIOR, currently director of Charan Group Consulting, http://au.linkedin.com/pub/charles-sevior/32/242/0 attended the  papers and conference stream of NAB, as well as going over to Geneva for the SMPTE “Emerging Technologies” conference. He also visited a large data centre, perceiving the significance it represents for the broadcast sector.

He was able to give us some insights into the latest trends and developments. (Charles’ consulting practice focuses on media technology and strategic transformation, and has been assisting clients in the broadcast and IT sectors)

In summary, he highlighted:


  • The coming of age (at least overseas) of Cloud Technology.
  • Internet TV casting,
  • Establishing trust in outsourced Cloud-enabled production storage and distribution
  • Maintaining owners’ control over content in the Cloud.
  • How Opex (outsourcing costs incurred when operating) can replace Capex (capital expenditure on long-term owned equipment) in funding one’s operations, and allow for cheap, rapid event-driven expansion and contraction of capabilities (like when catering for an Olympics), when thus outsourcing.
  • Electrical power consumption: increased awareness of the power consumed for data services worldwide within data facilities, right down to the .03 Watts of power required to supply a single Google search.
  • Problems of maintaining quality control over content and services in an inherently decentralized multiple-stream multicast environment
  • Comparisons of the usefulness of broadcast modes versus web multicast and unicast.
  • An historical timelineof the development of this new way of working
    • 2005 dropping videotape for file-based storage
    • 2007 going from SD to HD
    • 2009 development of codecs as required
    • 2011 “explosion” of multiple codecs
    • 2012 orchestration to regain control over content, codecs, etc
    • Adoption of an app-core and FIMS (framework for interoperable media servers) as aids in standardization.
    • HTML5 and the growth of web-connected devices, estimated to reach 50 billion by 2020, of which 15 billion will be video-enabled. By 2015, 90% of all web traffic will be video.
    • Progress in the development of new and vastly more efficient codecs to supplement the 20-year old MPEG2 and the 10-year old MPEG4. The High Efficiency Video Codec.
    • Manufacturers of broadcast equipment are reporting that 455 of them are making no profit, and that the biggest growth is in storage technologies coupled with a new emphasis on delivering services and cloud-based solutions to traditional needs.
    • The development of enormous generic data centres around the world, with capacity to serve up the world’s TV services as one of their many functions amongst their many other markets and clients.  Refer to the mega-vastness of http://www.switchnap.com/ to see how stupendously BIG the data business is these days.

Model of the new Switchnap facility in Nevada.

One small corner of the new centre, with capacity ready for the chilling and powering of apparatus racks yet to come!


  • An example of how an entire national TV channel network (Fox TV Network) can be (and is) hosted and operated from a few desks in the corner of such a generic data centre (Switch Network).
  • The emergence of big data analytics, looking at social networks, enabling sentiment analysis of advertised products (and of TV viewers’ behavior and attitudes)
  • How traditional broadcast technology “enablers” experience developmental discontinuity by getting left behind by new technologies, that can deliver and the opportunities and value created for their users


The Geneva Conference, attended by Charles


  • The entire migration of TV production operations to such generic IT hardware and software platforms and environments.
  • Major progress in camera technology, to include more pixels (for better resolution), faster pixels (for increased frame rates and lower noise), pixels with better dynamic range (for better colour and contrast gamut and fewer processing requirements), and the Sony Lytro technology that simultaneously captures focal planes both near and far, for users to select from.
  • The results of an IBM survey of 1700 industry CEOs, who
    • see “change as the new normal”;
    • report to be only halfway to evolving their operations to “full digital
    • see company size as being inverse to productivity
    • are living in the “age of now” with instant viewer feedback via social media
    • have audiences who practice CPA (continuous partial attention) to media offerings

More info about this survey at http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/en/c-suite/ceostudy2012/

Charles also referred us to the SMPTE daily blogs created during this event, at http://smpteconnect.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/emerging-media-technologies.html

Charles’ powerpoint presentation can be viewed in more detail at  (URL TBA)


John Maizels moderated an audience Q+A with the panel, enabling some very interesting themes to be explored:

  • That the combination of Lytros camera technology with stitched panoramic HD could within this decade, enable shooting entire sports OBs with only two cameras, and operators extracting all the required shot sizes, framings and focal planes, from the two primary sources.
  • That the per-volume billing of internet connections in Australia (unlike much of the rest of the world) must change to a fixed or capped rate to enable the full adoption of Web and Cloud-based services in Australia.
  • That the technology of WiFi that will enable much of this change is covered by Australian CSIRO patents.
  • That the impact of lower cost gear, with lower skilled users, the short relevance-life of new equipment, may result in later-on hidden production costs, by requiring tech support that is expensive relative to the cost of its purchase.
  • Equipment sellers, who usually are also the support-providers, may become insolvent due to the minimal sales margins. What then?
  • Whether second screen viewing [jpm1] will be about the delivery of relevant unique synched content to the second screen (like an iPad) and/or will the second screen simply enable social media interaction and viewer participation?
  • That research has shown second-screen viewers are more engaged than single screen viewers, and are  more likely to be exposed to ads, the placement of which pays for the whole experience.
  • That notwithstanding, “today’s kids” hardly even watch conventional TV to begin with. What then?
  • The NAB Exhibition itself is experiencing and illustrating these trends of change.
  • That the new “big names” at NAB are now Avid, Harris, GVG, Sony and Canon, followed by such as Omneon, Quantel and BlackMagic. Compare this with a couple of decades ago! Or more recently, the emergence and then departure of Apple as a dominant market supplier to broadcast production.
  • That a lot of NAB floor space was taken up with displays by storage companies, but which attracted scant visitor attention. Essential to this new age, but perhaps not sexy toys!



After the presentations, the attendees adjourned to the EMC2 hospitality area, and engaged in ample libations and degustation, thoughtfully enabled by the hosts. More importantly, in between the beer intake and sharing of yummy cheese platters, a great deal of networking and lively conversation ensued, prompted in good part by the stimulating ideas aired in the presentations


Perhaps less noticed at the EMC site, standing discretely behind a glass wall, was a green-coloured rack-mounted Greenplum analytics machine, its blue lights glowing mysteriously in the EMC2 rack room. This technology can search the web, studying the public’s behavior patterns in the consumption and discussion of social media and electronic media content, making it potentially an oracle of wisdom and prediction for media enterprise in the social media era. “It answers the questions you need to ask to understand life on the web, and furthermore comes up with the kind of questions you need to be asking it”, said our host from EMC.

As such, it makes the Greenplum and EMC a definite candidate for a future SMPTE Section monthly Technology Evening.



So, did NAB 2012 deliver more of the same but slightly improved, or is it really the year of radical change, with the emergence of those “disruptive technologies” that break the traditional models for broadcasting and production business ?  Are we finally seeing the collapse of the old broadcast technology world of expensive hardware boxes, gradually being replaced by “better/cheaper/faster” hardware devices or being replaced by generic IT hardware that merely runs broadcasting apps? Will CapEx, and the value placed upon hardware and its “care and feeding” (that which cares for so many of us, too), be replaced by short term OpEx usage of non-broadcast technology services? How can we justify buying new broadcast equipment that may be obsolete within half its expected lifetime, and/or replaced by cheaper generic IT hardware running flexible apps? Will we be using software services delivered to us through the anticipated Cloud.

Stay across Australia Section’s web page and our emailed notifications for more brain-melting upcoming events.

 [jpm1]did we/I discuss “three  screen”?   That’s a broader general case…  I thought I’d mentioned it, at least.