It\'s that time of year again. 06:30 on road bikes on the Las Vegas Strip with a merry bunch of folks who believe they look good in lycra. As we pedal West up the hill towards Red Rock there will be stories of the year just gone and questions about what to look for at the show. I, for one, will be attending the Devoncroft event to check up on who is spending what and where. I will then look forward to the topics that might be buzzing around the halls. I predict there will be many displays of Machine Learning hiding under the banner of Artificial Intelligence. Some of these will show better picture quality, others will show personalisation engines, some will be improved search tools and yet more will be synthesising pictures and motions to replace reality with and Artificial reality that\'s more compelling for the viewer.
I predict that there will be more video on IP. There will be 2 or 3 different proprietary systems and a large presence of the standardised SMPTE ST 2110 ecosystem. The recent publication by the Joint Task Force on Networked Media (jt-nm.org) of Technical Recommendation 001 which outlines the interworking key parts of the technology ecosystem that are required to discover, route and identify ST 2110 streams has ignited interest in building real facilities around the world. Many of the exhibitors will be able to talk about practical deployments in addition to all the interoperability experiments and specification writing that has been taking place.
There will be a meeting of the IMF User Group (imfug.com) that is quietly getting on with revolutionising the content delivery chain. The Interoperable Mastering Format creates an automation friendly eco-system that allows Asset Management systems and workflow orchestrators to interchange master versions of titles and to make hundreds or thousands of versions of those titles for a fraction of the storage, bandwidth and cost of tradition methods. I, personally, will be presenting on Tuesday and Wednesday morning on the Amazon stand, the results of a project that defines an open source API that allows IMF tools to authenticate and discover IMF assets regardless of where and how they are stored (http://imf-mm-api.cloud). This is just another little piece of the technology puzzle that improves interoperability and removes friction from multi-vendor systems.
There will inevitably be a corner full of drones, another full of LED panels brighter than the sun, a variety of cameras shooting High Dynamic Range 4k, some 8K screens that were kept in a warehouse after CES along with a raft of interesting gadgets that you can use on set to put things in or put things on or silently slide things along wires.
Above all, I think this will be an NAB where we are looking at the implementation of technology rather than some new ground-breaking invention. Now that Internet delivery is here to stay and the terror of doing productions in the cloud is behind us, I think there will be interesting applications that make the new technology possible and practical. I think that some of the big-hitting headline technology breakthroughs will grab the headlines, but I think the money will be spent on trusted applications that make the content supply chain of media delivery a more automated and a more data-rich environment. The era of monolithic software is behind us and agile methodologies based on flexible software allow media businesses to change their operations quickly to respond to change.
The problem will not be a shortage of software. The problem will be having the courage to make the business decisions early so that you can take advantage of the structural changes in the industry.