As eyes turn to NAB2023, the message from 2023 is that the AV industry’s knack for groundbreaking R&D remains undimmed by the pandemic era, writes David Davies.

As ISE2023 proved, in-person events are back in vogue, with the show reporting a first-day record for any event held at Barcelona’s iconic Fira centre (the new venue after a relocation from Amsterdam). Ahead of NAB2023, Chris Brown, NAB executive vice president and managing director of Global Connections and Events picked up the theme in a statement:

“Companies, large and small, are turning out en-masse to exhibit at NAB Show, including more than a few that skipped last year’s show. “Exhibit sales are already nearly 20 percent ahead of where we ended up in 2022. This is a testament to the power of trade shows to unite the industry, create connections and generate commerce.”


ISE 2023: A look back at Day 1

As well as increasing popularity, there is also a significant boost to be had from the extent to which broadcast, film and AV technologies are now converging. This can be seen to be manifesting itself in areas that are both widely recognised (remote production, virtual production) and perhaps less obvious (immersive audio, control infrastructures).

In this article we’ll dig a little deeper into some of the key trends from ISE2023 that will undoubtedly see continued traction through NAB and potentially beyond into the IBC2023 show in September, covering both technologies and techniques, beginning with virtual production (VP).

1) Virtual production is being adopted across sectors and applications.

The rise of VP – in no small part accelerated by the unique circumstances of the pandemic – has already been the subject of multiple articles on IBC365, including a recent feature on the increasing validity of the business case around virtual production. But ISE confirmed that VP is now achieving traction in some historically ‘core’ AV sectors, such as corporate.

After a rocky few years in which many corporate gatherings had no choice but to move online, there is in doubt that in-person events have made a comeback during the last 18 months. But with many larger organisations now pursuing hybrid events that encompass both virtual and physical attendance, the appeal of VP technologies – notably motion tracking and virtual graphics – to deliver more high-end, impactful and resolutely on-brand conferences and meetings isn’t hard to understand.

Read more ISE2023 Show: Convergence of Broadcast, Film and AV Tech

The fact that VP is still in its relative infancy means that we also shouldn’t be surprised by the number of technology partnerships it is yielding. This could be seen at ISE with a series of high-profile, multi-stand collaborations – one notable example being VP solutions developer Mo-Sys Engineering’s presence on the stands of four tech partners: Absen, LG, NovaStar and StarTracker.

2) IP networking technologies have now attained a new level of maturity.

Even shortly before the pandemic began, it wasn’t uncommon for trade show conferences to feature sessions still geared towards examining the arguments for IP-based networking in broadcast and AV applications. Both at ISE and other upcoming events in 2023, those sessions now seem notable by their absence, and it’s arguable that the pandemic era’s multiple requirements – including greater flexibility of home and remote working, not least for broadcasting – played a significant role in nudging the market towards a new level of maturity.

ISE Birddog2 3x2

ISE2023: BirdDog’s PTZ cameras can be controlled by Densitron’s Intelligent Display System (IDS) platform 

Hence the tenor of the questions asked at ISE tended to be more ‘when and how should I do this?’ as opposed to ‘is IP right for this business or application?’ What was also evident at this show, in particular, was the extent to which broadcasters, corporate brands and even individuals are using the same kind of fully integrated, network-based environments to produce and deliver their content.

This could be seen in the decision of the organisers to introduce a new ISE Content Production & Distribution Summit, noting: “Where pro AV overlaps with television broadcast is no longer a grey area – it’s bigger and more intense than ever. Professional audio-video is the new broadcast and is using the latest, more accessible tools and services to tell its story directly.”

The crossover was also apparent out on the showfloor, where a number of collaborations between control tech-oriented manufacturers and those geared towards broadcast essentials were in evidence – one example being the use of Densitron’s Intelligent Display System (IDS) platform to control PTZ cameras made by BirdDog.

3) The appetite for immersive audio environments is continuing to grow.

From the development of new broadcast technical standards that include immersive audio elements, to the increasing prevalence of surround sound in experience-driven museum and public art installations, immersive audio has arguably been enjoying its greatest period of prominence since formats such as 5.1 began to achieve traction in the 1990s.


A look back on ISE2023: Day 1

Hence it wasn’t a surprise to find that this was another area where the growing convergence between technologies supporting ostensibly contrasting applications and end-user groups was apparent at ISE2023. The ability of manufacturers such as Sennheiser and Shure – both exhibitors at the show – to cater seamlessly to different markets is long-established. But in Barcelona there was a reminder that immersive audio technologies have now evolved to the point where they can be equally transformative of both public and private spaces, with the latter now served by an ever-increasing volume of content produced and mixed specifically for the new immersive formats.

So it seemed eminently logical that dedicated audio demo rooms at the Fira gave visitors the opportunity to sample the latest audio innovations from many of the leading companies in the space, including Coda Audio, d&b audiotechnik, Holoplot, Martin Audio and Void Acoustics. Each room was tailored to the requirements of each manufacturer so that they could optimise the experience provided to ISE visitors.

4) Unified communications are becoming increasingly relevant to broadcast & media production.

If VP started off as a broadcast & media trend that has crossed over into ‘traditional AV’, then it could be argued that unified communications (UC) has taken a reverse trajectory. This is because the sort of technologies that have long been associated with meeting rooms and educational auditoria – including highly-specified AV conferencing systems – are now increasingly relevant to broadcast & media production, where a greater reliance on hybrid and remote working patterns is certain to be an enduring legacy of the pandemic period.

The presence at ISE of ‘heavy-hitters’ such as Microsoft, Zoom and Clevertouch – confirmed the very healthy demand across sectors and applications for new solutions. There were also indications that the expectations of audio quality are beginning to rival that of video, with higher-end in-room solutions and headsets, as well as room acoustic treatments becoming increasingly popular choices. NAB meanwhile has confirmed the West Hall will host Amagi, Amazon Web Services, MediaKind, Microsoft, Telestream and Veritone.

Looking ahead, the continued integration of popular communications platforms – Zoom, Teams and Slack being among those in heavy usage across broadcast, media and AV – into overarching technology solutions is not in doubt.

5) The pace of innovation is continuing to accelerate.

Many visitors may have had a considerable hiatus from in-person shows, and if a week is a long time in politics, then several years is a very long time in professional technology. With 4K, HDR, IP and the cloud now an accepted part of vastly contrasting environments, it was noticeable how much the conversation is already beginning to move onto the possibilities of 8K, ML/AI and others.


NAB 2023: Taking place in Las Vegas from April 15th - 19th

In particular, there are hints that the opportunities heralded by automation in an era of data-intensive applications could be highlighted increasingly strongly at future editions of the show. With collection of, and responsiveness to, data now being integral to many broadcast and AV applications, the ability to ‘lighten the load’ on humans – and thereby allow them to focus on more creative or individualised aspects – will only become more acute. In turn, this will help to shape the nature of future jobs in the creative industries – and the technologies that are required to support and facilitate them.

Overall, given the pace of change, the one thing we can be certain of is that 2023 will have more of the same – as well as quite a few surprises to boot. The 2023 NAB Show will run April 15–19 at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), while IBC2023 is booking now for 15-18 September 2023, at the RAI Amsterdam.

Read more Book a stand at IBC2023