NAB 2023 has been and gone again for this year, the bellwether Las Vegas broadcast tradeshow now celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Mark Mayne rounds up the highpoints and key trends.
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) 2023 show lit up the Nevada desert once again in mid-April, delivering the customary blend of media and entertainment tech, industry debate, networking and conference sessions. We take a look at some of the key moments and trends from the show to see how they set the tone for the rest of the year.
Inevitably, AI was a key focus for the show, as highlighted by Adrian Pennington in the IBC365 NAB Preview, and it’s certainly fair to say that this is a topic that will continue to dominate discussions throughout the tech industry and beyond for some time yet. A further indicator of a maturing technology was the lack of overt marketing based around AI and ML, although there was plenty of discussion behind the scenes and throughout numerous conference tracks dedicated to it.
One notable mention should go to Adobe, which announced at NAB 2023 further plans for its generative AI called Adobe Firefly. Firefly builds on the beta Premiere Pro features recently announced, and is likely to feature text to colour enhancements that allow editors to dramatically change scenes by switching time of day or season just with a word-based prompt.
Elsewhere, Imax showed AI-driven tech in the shape of prototype technology from SSIMWAVE, the startup it acquired last year for $21 million. The heart of these is a suite of bandwidth and image quality optimization tools that are designed to work with the Imax Enhanced streaming format.
Indeed, generative AI made its way into (almost) every facet of NAB - even impacting on the marketing plans for social media:
Creator directedxcarlos asked ChatGPT to put together a quick idea for a video to highlight our booth at NAB 2023, here’s what it came up with 💡 pic.twitter.com/nlhLkffEZz— DJI (@DJIGlobal) April 23, 2023
Virtual Production (VP)
While levels of engagement with VP vary considerably throughout the industry, there was no shortage of VP visuals to beguile attendees, especially in terms of LED walls and demos. LG was unsurprisingly at the forefront here, with Virtual Production (VP) and Extended Reality (XR) demo booth stages and several large DVLED (direct-view light emitting diode) displays. Both stages focussed on solutions for virtual production, showing LG collaborations with partners including Mo-Sys, ARRI, Megapixel VR, QSC, and Vive Studios.
A Panasonic Connect VP demo took a different approach, using a trio of projectors working through its KAIROS system to create a virtual set.
Virtual Reality and XR Go 8K
There was plenty of excitement around new experiential opportunities, but excitingly not all entirely blue-sky. One example was Red Digital Cinema’s show announcement that it is now possible to stream live 8K cinematic (RAW R3D) images direct from its V-Raptor and V-Raptor XL cameras, via the Red Connect Module. The concept was demoed at the show by live streaming 8K60P to VR Microsoft and Meta headsets. Whether you were sold on VR or not, it’s now available in 8K too.
Another 8K VR example was this intriguing beast, although it’s certainly addressing a different part of the market to Red Digital Cinema:
🚨New VR180 camera ALERT‼️— Hugh Hou (@hughhoufilm) April 19, 2023
We found a new #vr180 camera 🎥 at #nab2023 at @Labpano booth. It has some very impressive specs! 2x APS-C SONY CMOS with Dual F2.0 Fisheye Lens. It shoot upto 8K 60fps (h265) LIVE! It has real time in-camera stitching - YES, no more VR180 post… pic.twitter.com/dE8tBTzDpO
Cloud and IP
Neither of these topics will come as a surprise, especially given the latter’s decade in the business, but both cloud and IP still figure large, as more than one visitor took pains to make clear.
If you have not been at NAB in some years, you will find a very different landscape.— Oscar Sanchez (@hozkhar) April 16, 2023
Some of the old big players are gone or shrank. Cloud and IP dominate the floor. #NAB2023 pic.twitter.com/KqatYI0DSM
However, both technologies have seen the emphasis change, from hyped new technology to more of a working standard, where debate is around the specifics of workflows and techniques, rather than the underlying technology itself.
Olivier Suard, VP of Marketing, Nevion agreed, pointing out that: “In terms of live production, NAB2023 was characterised by incremental changes rather than any radically new themes – evolution rather than revolution. There was a continued focus on doing more with less, with productions’ continued trend towards achieving greater flexibility without sacrificing quality. For example, focusing on being able to produce remotely as much as possible whilst maintaining or even increasing the number of camera feeds utilised within anetwork.”
That theme was also neatly illustrated by one of the 2023 NAB Show Product of the Year Award winners, Black Box’s Emerald Deskvue, a remote KVM-over-IP product that allows users to create ‘a personalised workspace where they can simultaneously view and interact with up to 16 different systems.’
“The interest in using Cloud in live production continued to grow but the emerging consensus that a hybrid on-premises/Cloud approach is the way to go – at least in the short and medium term. In the same vein, the expectations have increased in terms of distributed production, that is that resources should be shared and usable regardless of their location”, concluded Suard.
Elsewhere, the behemoth that is Amazon Web Services (AWS) was everywhere on the show floor, with 63 partnerships on display at its dedicated booth, and a further 25 scattered throughout the show. A series of low latency demos drew a reliable crowd throughout the duration, including the notable ‘Free Kick Challenge’.
Visitor numbers are up
NAB announced that the centennial 2023 show had 65,013 registered attendees, an uptick of around 20% over the just-post-pandemic 2022 show. That figure included 17,446 international attendees representing more than 166 countries. Overall a comforting sign for both broadcast industry and in-person shows in general that the drain on attendance prompted by the pandemic is indeed receding.
“We are thrilled to have so many exhibitors, attendees and partners from around the world join us in Las Vegas to help celebrate 100 years of innovation. More than any other year, everyone is filled with so much enthusiasm and energy as they engage on the show floor, in special sessions and throughout the entire event,” said Curtis LeGeyt, NAB President and CEO in a statement. “We thank the NAB Show community for helping us reflect on our collective experience with media and entertainment and for previewing the many innovations we’ll see within the next hundred years.”