Between the Aisles

No industry trade show is coming out of this recession unscathed. 3/29/2009 10:33 PM Eastern

Between the Aisles

No industry trade show is coming out of this recession unscathed.

No industry trade show is coming out of this recession unscathed. Exhibitors and attendees alike often cut back their events budgets as soon as money gets tight. The good news for trade shows scheduled for the first half of the year (and some others) is that a lot of the coolest plans were already hatched before Wall Street took us into tailspin last fall. And you can include this month's NAB Show among them.

The National Association of Broadcasters' annual gathering in Las Vegas always draws industry luminaries. This year, the NAB plans to honor Bob Newhart, Mary Tyler Moore, and Vin Scully, for example. And while the show is clearly focused on the work of broadcasters and their colleagues, there is always reason for the AV generalist to get involved. Herewith, five things an AV pro shouldn't miss at the NAB Show 09.

1. The Military and Government Summit. This is a brand-new event for the NAB Show, and it's being produced with help from some of the top government integrators, including Harris, Raytheon, and ITT. If for no other reason, AV pros would do well to attend just to meet people from the sponsors' companies and giants like Lockheed Martin. These firms, traditionally thought of a defense contractors but increasingly IT integrators, hold the keys to myriad subcontracts for videoconferencing installs, command centers, and other AV-related business in government (see Pro AV's "Guide to Doing Business in Federal Government AV ," September 2008).

According to organizers, the summit, which takes place April 21-23, "will identify ways in which government and military officials can utilize commercial video technologies for defense and emergency response applications." Make sure you block out time to pop in on a four-hour workshop April 22 titled, "How to Do Business with the Government." Later that day will be a key session, "Adapting COTS Solutions to Military Applications." The Defense Department is often wary of off-the-shelf systems, but that's what AV pros sell.

2. The Digital Cinema Summit. As AV pros are learning, digital cinema isn't necessarily a walk in the park. The major movie studios dictate a lot of what happens in this growing area, and it can affect what an AV integrator does and doesn't do when working on a venue that might potentially show protected digital cinema content (see "Digital Cinema: To Comply or Not?" Tools & Tech, November 2008).

What we're talking about here is the gradual conversion of theaters from 35mm film to digital media. Among the issues in building systems that can show digital filmsâeuro“from server to projectorâeuro“is how to protect the content against unlawful copying (it's one thing to try to dupe a print film; it's a another to copy it onto a portable hard drive). There are reportedly 4,000 digital cinema systems in operation today and executives from NEC, Sony, and others will give a status report on progress. There will also be an update from Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a joint venture of several entertainment companies, on standards and compliance-testing for digital cinema systems.

Much of the rest of the summit (April 18 and 19) will be devoted to one of the Next Big Things in AVâeuro“3D. From advances in the technology to case studies of recent 3D sports broadcasts, there's something for everyone. If you need to pick your spots, consider Saturday's "Cinema 3D Projection Technology" session with representatives from Warner Bros., Sony, Dolby, and Real 3D (also see "A Multi-Dimensional Challenge," page 64).

3. "Holographic effects" in action. The two main companies that brought you those apparently holographic images during CNN's election coverage last fall will be demonstrating the technology on the show floor. STATS (booth SL5011) and Vizrt (booth SL5508) are showing the combination of the former's video processing and tracking systems and the latter's real-time tracking and rendering software for creating long-distance, face-to-face interaction that's unlike traditional videoconferencing systems (see "Virtually Real," January/February 2009).

Brian Kopp, vice president of strategic planning at STATS, which acquired SportVU (Vizrt's original partner during the election) in December, sees an opportunity for "virtual studios" where full-fledged studios won't fly. At the very least, AV pros should see how it works.

4. Digital signage systems. In its soul, digital signage is a broadcast application where a message produced centrally is disseminated to a network of screens. The NAB Show won't have its own signage pavilion or summit, per se, but there will be a lot of related technology, much of it different from the LCD on a wall. Daktronics will show off its new PS-6i family of 6mm indoor SMD LED panels (booth C12419); Mitsubishi is reportedly bringing its 140-inch LED-based Resolia indoor display (booth SL6510); and Planar Systems will demo its new Clarity Margay II 50-inch HD rear-projection displays for public venue videowalls (booth SL12016).

5. Malcolm Gladwell. The best-selling author of Outliers, Blink, and The Tipping Point speaks at 9 a.m. on April 22. How great is it to know that successful people like Bill Gates don't necessarily get that way just because they're really smart?

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Between the Aisles

No industry trade show is coming out of this recession unscathed.

Needles in the Haystack

The NAB Show 2009 will feature more than 1,600 exhibitors, including a slew that serve the professional AV market in addition to the broadcast community. Finding what you're looking for at a trade show that takes up all three halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center can be a challenge. We've pulled out some of the new product releases we think are worth tracking down.


Barco brings to the NAB Show its new FSN Series multiformat video production switcher. The company says the FSN Series was built for live switching at events, small broadcast installations, corporate and industrial installations, and houses of worship. It integrates SD-SDI, HD-SDI, and 3 Gbps support, plus support for VGA and DVI computer resolutions. The base configuration includes one 8-channel native input card and one 2-channel universal input card that accepts any video or computer format. Where: Booth SL5008


Electrosonic is debuting its new ES7100 encoder for HD-SDI and 3G SDI streaming over IP networks. The company says the ES7100 operates at bit rates from 6 Mbps to 150 Mbps with strong protection against network errors. It uses Electrosonic's PURE3 compression codec, which has been designed specifically for network transmission and provides a constant latency of only 70 ms end to end.

The ES7100 can be set on-the-fly for encode or decode operation and provides extensive bit rate management, including CBR and PBR bandwidth monitoring for optimal IP network performance. It supports all popular HD formats, including 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. Where: Booth 9720


Clear-Com Communication Systems plans to unveil what it calls the industry's first hybrid Time-Divisional Multiplexing (TDM) intercom/IP server network. It represents a hybrid network designed to extend the reach of intercom systems to more users. At the heart of the network is the Eclipse version 5.1, which now includes a 32-channel IP matrix card offering more connections.

Through the matrix card, the Eclipse Median and Omega frames can directly link to users of Clear-Com's IP-enabled V-Series control panels and Clear-Com Concert 2.0. It can also be implemented on an existing IT network infrastructure. Where: Booth C6521


Apantac, which makes HD signal processing equipment, is launching its new Tahoma series of multiviewers. This 3G-ready family autodetects 4 to 32 video inputs (HD/SD-SDI/Composite), supports DVI, HDMI and VGA outputs up to 2048x1080 (including 1080p), and includes built-in video and audio alarm detection, according to the company.

The Tahoma series also incorporates a built-in Cat-X extender, which allows digital 1080p signals to go 115 feet. Company officials say the combination of a multiviewer and built-in Cat-X extender in one solution should helps reduce overall equipment costs and eliminate possible equipment incompatibilities. Where: Booth SL13013


Analog Way, based in France, is bringing to the U.S. its new Di-VentiX LE, a multilayer mixer/scaler/switcher. It offers universal analog and digital input/output and full high-resolution digital processing, according to the company. Plus it supports live effects such as PIP, downstream keying, and chroma key.

In a multilayer mixer mode, the Di-VentiX LE uses one output as a preview and the other, the main output, for the audience. It has two DVI-I inputs including analog connectors, two SDI inputs, and four universal analog inputs. An optional audio stereo switcher card comes with eight inputs and two outputs. Where: Booth SL7423


Neutrik, which manufactures an array of XLR connectors and receptacles, jacks and plugs, speaker connectors, and accessories for the pro audio industry, plans to introduce its rearTWIST BNC Connectors. The company says users are demanding future-proof installations for HD 1080p, which requires twice the bandwidth of HD 1080i (interlaced). The company sweep-tested the rearTWIST BNC for jitter-free transmission, even with uncompressed HD 1080p signals. Studies show return loss values up to 4.5 GHz, exceeding SMPTE requirements. Where: Booth N7929

Other Notable NAB Booths the Seasoned AV Pro Should Visit:

Adtec Digital, SL8220
AKG, N6724
Audio-Technica, N2121
Avocent, SL13616
Azden Corp., N2614
Christie Digital Systems, SL7912
Contemporary Research, SL6428
Coolux International, SL12409
Daktronics, C12419
Da-Lite Screen Co., SL5324
Draper, SL4208
Electro-Voice, C7025
Extron, SL12012
HaiVision Network Video, SL4126
Harris Corp., N2502
JBL Professional, N6724
Kramer Electronics, SL6205A
Lectrosonics, N5223
Marshall Electronics, C8908
RDL Radio Design Labs, N8125
RGB Spectrum, SL4215
Roland Systems Group, SL10420
Rose Electronics, SL7425
Sennheiser, N6520
Shure, N4529
Sony Electronics, C11001
TV One, C7408
Wohler Technologies, N1102

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