NAB 2013 had a really good vibe, all the way around. Yesterday's traffic was as busy as Monday and Tuesday and now, Thursday -- the day when you could roll the proverbial bowling ball down the aisle -- also seems crowded. One guy in the elevator said he scanned more cards on Tuesday than for the entire NAB 2012.
I had booth appointments this morning and did see a few interesting things. Axle -- which won a Best of IBC 2012 from TVBEurope -- was a small but very popular booth showing "radically simple media management" that installs in minutes and requires almost no training (more on that later) and Epoch, a company made up of former HP engineers, that has found a great behind-the-scenes way of managing a network of computers in-house and remote to maximize processing power. I'm not doing it justice in a few sentences so look for my after show write-up of both these companies.
More 4K: I was kidnapped by Neil Smith, CEO of LumaForge in West Hollywood, who integrates an Apple-based FCPX editing workflow in 4K all the way through final color correction and conform (as well as output to 4K and other resolutions). His company integrates the Apple and Apple compliant products for this end-to-end pipeline. Neil has promised me lunch in West Hollywood for a deeper look, so I'll be reporting on this.
Because Smith (and LumaForge) is an Apple beta tester, he was able to shed a little more light on what Apple is up to. Apparently the company does plan to re-enter the M&E space, having realized its errors with the FCPX introduction. Smith can't spill details, but he promises we'll all be interested in what Apple has up its sleeve, including with regard to customer support. It is all "coming soon."
Wrapping up NAB was a panel in the Post Pit, a co-production of the NAB Show and Hollywood Post Alliance. We had a great group of panelists representing many industry segments including post, broadcast, defense, display. The conversation about NAB 2013 was almost entirely 4K-centric. Pete Putnam, president of ROAM Consulting and a display expert, said that the dog has been wagging the tail with regard to the professional M&E industry having to react to trends that emerge from the consumer electronics market. He thinks that 4K will shift the equation. We're at least two years away from broadcasting 4K to the home, he says, but there are plenty of uses for 4K imagery in the professional market, from virtual reality to defense, corporate, medical. "These people have been waiting patiently," he said.
Everybody came looking for 4K products and were surprised by how much of it was real, as opposed to vaporware, at NAB 2013. The industry has moved much faster than anyone anticipated to make 4K products a reality. The other trend that people noticed was away from hardware to software; the panelists agreed with my assessment that the future will see a big shift to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.
I expect that things will move quickly this coming year, with regard to various sectors of the market trying out 4K workflows -- not, obviously, for distribution to home TVs but possibly to movie theatres (Christie showed a pretty impressive 4K 120 fps display) and other possible uses. Don't be surprised if all kinds of people who can't distribute in 4K still shoot in 4K, for purposes of future-proofing.
That's it. I'm outta here, perhaps a little wiser and definitely a lot more tired. Watch for my post NAB reviews next week.