A few thoughts after NAB Show 2018

While the official buzzwords of this show were supposed to be 4K, HDR, AV1, VR, AR and AI (the latter three not being exactly specific to the industry), that was not what occupied our attention at the NDI Central booth right in the middle of hall 7: we were busy speaking to potential customers about our video transport—a very easy way to transfer video streams across the public Internet.

NDI adoption

Perhaps, it was just the location, but it was becoming clear with each day of NAB: NDI is by far the most widely used IP video production standard. And for sure everyone now knows what it is.

As Dick Hobbs wrote in an article released before the show:

So while there will be a lot of marketing weight behind the move to IP connectivity, there is general agreement that there is no resisting the change. Standards are in place — and include NewTek’s royalty-free proprietary NDI system, as well as SMPTE ST2110.

What I find peculiar about NDI is that they have started with the most important and most difficult part: the network. Real-life deployment is needed to get that part right—which puts NewTek’s technology far ahead of the competition, who are trying to solve the same problem on brand new networking equipment and will need time to work things out. Notably, NewTek plans to release NDI 3.5, which is said to provide a bunch of updates specifically to improve the protocol’s performance on the network.

Finally, BirdDog, a company that is focused specifically on NDI encoders, has won the Best of NAB 2018 award from Streaming Media.

Speaking about our video transport with Rex Olson of NewTek.

Live streaming is on the rise

The Streaming Idiots Meet Up, which I was lucky to attend, was crowded and very noisy. While a few people were doing what they love to do—shooting and directing—the others were socialising.

The vibe and energy were great, and I had the chance to speak to great people and learn a few things. I had a quick chat with Luria Petrucci, a live streaming professional, who’s been on top of this movement for over 10 years. She told me that brands are beginning to realise that old ways of communicating their message are ceasing to work, and video, including live streaming, is a way for them to engage in a conversation and be human. Perfection in post-production is no longer as important as being real, transparent and natural in their message.

Speaking about his passion for live streaming, Tom Sinclair, founder of the Streaming Idiots Facebook group and Eastern Shore Broadcasting, told me:

Live streaming is exciting. The element of being live, where anything can happen, good or bad; where the outcome is uncertain; where is ending is not yet known; all of this adds an energy to a production that can be electric… and intoxicating… and addicting. Once you go live, once you step off that cliff into thin air; you’ll never be satisfied with live-to-tape and post produced content again.
A recording of the interviews held during the meetup.

Remote production and PTZ cams control

We’ve posted previously about remote production as a concept. At NAB our goal was to speak to potential customers face to face—and here’s what we’ve learned.

First of all, remote production is indeed something that people (notably, NDI users) are looking at: video producers want to transport up to 6 camera feeds to a central location, where they would do the switching.

Second, the most popular question we’ve heard is wether it would be possible to control PTZ cameras remotely—bringing the cost of production down even more. Obviously, we’ve heard that request before, but this feedback hints that we should move this feature up on our priority list.

If you’d like to try our video transport service, please download our app (it takes 5–10 minutes to set up).

Oh, and one more thing…

Customer ENCO Systems has won the Best of Show Award from TV Technology with their enCaption4 automated captioning solution, which makes use of MFormats SDK.

See also