15 Feb 2016

Opinion: What I hope not to see at NAB 2016

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It’s now two months to NAB and Ned Soltz has some very definite opinions on what he hopes not to see there.

I never relish the thought of Las Vegas anyway. I loathe navigating through smoke-filled noisy casinos watching granny with a cigarette drooping from her mouth feed 3 slots simultaneously. Or sitting in endless traffic between off-site events. And then there is the show floor with evolutionary, revolutionary, market-shattering, disruptive, best-ever, head-turning, game-changing products hawked by scripted booth boys and babes.

But what do I really really hope not to see? A ton of new product introductions.

The market obviously has to run on introducing the latest products and hyping the latest technological innovation which will turn our industry on its ear. Like 3D a few years ago. We all know how well that did.

Now there have been NAB introductions that have without a doubt been industry-changing. I saw a hastily patched together successor to Macromedia Key Grip, which was to become Apple Final Cut Pro. And the NLE world was never the same again. Or Panasonic’s introduction of DVCPRO HD. And others. Some years bring true advances.

This year I expect to see 4K as the de facto norm with promises of 8K to come. There will be the beginning of the HDR video push. Collaborative workflows and video over IP will mature.

Yet there will also be the rash of product announcements that are either superfluous, insignificant updates to existing products or even worse, all promises. Little will be delivered. We are lucky, these days, to sit through product announcements at NAB and see delivery in September at IBC. Frustrated buyers are still waiting for the Blackmagic Ursa and Ursa Mini 4.6K cameras introduced at NAB 2015.

Some products are just too late to the market. I can think of several cameras, which I will not name, which only seem to be me-too cameras introduced into a crowded field. Unfortunately, these products become lost in the noise. The professional market is finite. Understand it and either get in early or jump in with a game-changer (there’s one of my words again) that really is a game-changer.

We don’t need any more duplication of product features regardless of manufacturer. We don’t need more product which so segments the marketplace that all manufacturers suffer. Please don’t subject me to more knock-off LED lighting with those green spikes or obviously-purloined camera support devices.

My word to the hardware and software vendors is a simple one. Please go light on the new products. Please don’t announce anything that hasn’t even entered alpha testing yet you promise timely delivery dates. In fact, please conspire with one another not to announce anything you’re not shipping within say 90 days. Please concentrate on fixing the bugs in existing hard and soft product, in adding functionalities while still teasing us with new technologies to come.

Well, I’ve said it. Curmudgeonly words from a technology addict and product reviewer who wants a break from the hype.

It’s not going to happen. We’ll arrive in Vegas to see the LVCC plastered with posters and we members of the press will be wined and dined by vendors anxious for us to devote a few precious words to them. The VP’s of marketing, design, technology and whatever else will parade on stage to pull the latest rabbit out from under the podium.

We know the path to the future of our industry. We know that we are transitioning to full implementation of 4K. We know we are looking in the near term to HDR acquisition, post production and delivery to consumer sets. We know that we are looking at delivery of 4K and greater resolution via IP and need encoding and delivery options. Now just make what we have work and only give us things which can substantively enhance the work we produce.

We’d be very interesting in hearing what you want to see and what you don’t want to see at NAB 2016. Please share you thoughts in the comments.

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Ned Soltz

Ned Soltz is a veteran shooter, editor, consultant, author and industry expert. He is Contributing Editor of DigitalVideo Magazine and is a frequent contributor to numerous print and web publications as well as podcasts. Ned was among the founders of the LA Final Cut Pro User Group (now LA Creative Pro User Group) and is currently president of the New York City user group Mopictive NYC.

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