Now that the dust has settled and heads are clear after the industry’s annual jaunt to Vegas, Azule Finance’s Peter Savage reflects on this year’s show that bought the future into focus
Few will be surprised that this year's show was dominated by 4K, whether it was manufacturers showing off their latest 4K cameras for ever more affordable prices, workflow companies claiming to be able to handle the data-heavy format, or OB companies like Telegenic promoting 4K for live production. Blackmagic’s Production Camera stole the show by providing 4K for less than $4K, while some manufacturers were even talking about 8K.
While all of the signs are there that the future of broadcast will be Ultra-HD, my advice to the industry - and to broadcasters and manufacturers - would be to walk before we can run.
It’s great to look to the future, and the images were undeniably stunning – but is this really how NAB should be? Shouldn’t it be about what is current and available and works right now?
From a business perspective, the broadcast industry is driven by the kit that is currently available and as long as the UK is still making the move to HD, we need to put the future in perspective.
4K Chickens & Ultra-HD Eggs
4K is already established in film production where pictures are beamed onto screens the size of a house, and this year we’ll undoubtedly start to see growth in natural history and high-end TV drama. But there is a missing piece of the 4K puzzle which will prevent the format’s uptake in broadcast for the foreseeable future – efficient end-to-end workflow.
Delegates at this year’s show were treated to eye popping ultra-HD images but a viable workflow solution for TV was conspicuous by its absence, and as long as the post-production costs for the reams and reams of rushes that are the norm in TV production are up to £20k more expensive there’s no chance of it breaking into broadcast any time soon. Essentially, until content is being created in 4K and there is a demand for 4K post, the price will remain high. Until the price comes down the opportunities for people to experiment with 4K is hugely limited.
Similarly, until 4K TVs are a common fixture in homes around the world (which manufacturers are pushing by launching more affordable models), there is little incentive for broadcasters to invest in 4K infrastructure to beam it into the living rooms of the masses. At the same time, until 4K content is widely available and easily accessible, there is little reason to buy a 4K TV, again at a price premium.
The industry has two very large chickens and two very large eggs to deal with before 4K broadcasting really takes off. But once it does, I’ve no doubt it will be transformative.
A refreshing break
For those suffering from 4K fatigue and looking to see something that they could buy there and then AJA provided a breath of fresh air and not just for its exceptional party at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. I understand from the UK dealers that AJA’s head of channel guaranteed that all the products on the stand had a price and could be shipped on the day.
Some of the announcements that stole the show for me were:
BlackMagic again with their 4K for $4K Production Camera
New super slo-mo cameras from FOR-A and Phantom
The first 4K OB truck from Telegenic™
Red’s Dragon sensor
What was clear from NAB, aside from the fact that expense accounts were very much alive and well, was the evolution of major broadcast industry events to be technical demonstrations and innovation competitions, rather than showcases of what’s actually on offer for today. For dealers and rental companies flying out, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to work out your shopping list and meeting schedule as the big news is kept under wraps until the show (by which point you’re in the eye of the storm) and there are few opportunities to invest unless you’re looking at least 6 -12 months in the future.
If you‘d like to find out more about Azule and finance options available, visit www.azule.co.uk or get in touch with Peter by emailing email@example.com.