While the 2018 NAB Show showed how technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence could transform the media industry, the underlined message was that content still reigns
By Vinita Bhatia
Visitors to the 2018 NAB Show were greeted by the sight of a motion sensing system that uses DJI’s remote-control technology to precisely synchronise the movement of Force Pro with the gimbal, helping cinematographers capture cinematic scenes with ease. Intuitive and easy to learn, Force Pro breaks down the barriers that come with understanding the operation of more complex gimbal control systems.
For those who thought that was progressive, the event presented a programme within the Next-Generation Media Technologies Conference titled ‘Get Ready for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence’ that included six sessions highlighting the various ways machine intelligence is impacting content creation. The panels explored how machine intelligence can increase productivity, efficiencies and creativity in production planning, animation, visual effects, post-production and localisation. Attendees also learned the current capabilities of neural network-based tools while also seeing the potential of these innovations to alter jobs, workflows and the nature of content itself.
And when it came to radical thinking, there were many who thought that we were still scratching the surface. A Nokia executive told attendees at the event, people may begin to watch video on their home walls or windows, rather than on their phones and tablets, by 2025. “The industry is on the cusp of moving away from a fixed device with a screen and really enabling anything to be a screen. There is a huge amount of demand for making anything a screen,” said Anthony Berkeley, vice president for new business development and product management, Nokia.
Suffice it to say that as always, the NAB Show had something for everyone – those who came wanting to connect with new suppliers, those who wanted to network, those who wanted to showcase their products and those who wanted to see the latest solutions in the broadcast, production and content creation business.
Future of live broadcast TV
Gordon Smith, president and CEO, NAB, delivered the annual NAB State of the Industry address during the event. He said that at the NAB Show, broadcasters stood on the shoulders of the innovators, creators and storytellers, whose creativity, passion and energy allowed them to see broadcasting as it could be in the future.
“We have inherited so much from those broadcasters before us and continue to learn from those in the present. Standing on the shoulders of these giants, we can imagine a brighter future than we could on our own. I believe our future lies in investing in the innovation that is crucial to our long-term growth, so that we can always be there for our communities… anywhere they are, and always for free. There is no better or more reliable resource for information during times of crisis than broadcast stations. But, we also recognise that consumers’ media consumption habits are always changing, and we continue to evolve with these changes.”
Speaking at the opening of the NAB Show, Kevin Beggs, chairman of independent producer Lionsgate said that the choice of distribution platform could depend on the ambitions of a particular show’s creators to a large extent. According to him broadcast will remain a highly relevant platform for scripted drama, with some types of show better suited to the syndication model than sales to streaming platforms.
The exhibition-cum-conference was held at Las Vegas Convention Center from 7th to 12th April, 2018 and about 100,000 were expected to participate in it. Throughout the trade event there were sessions and exhibits that featured breakthrough technologies and innovations across media, entertainment and technology.
This included the ‘Race on the Red Planet: Chasing our Creative Future With Curiosity and Opportunity’, a three-part program that explored the evolving role of technology in content creation, which was produced by AWS. As part of the session, Marco Tempest, creative technologist and advisor to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Director’s Fellow at the MIT MediaLab, showcased gesture-controlled drones and augmented reality. After, a panel featuring Jeff Dow, EVP and CIO at 20th Century Fox; Dave Duvall, SVP of Infrastructure Support Services at Discovery Inc.; Robert Hogg, deputy surface lead, Mars 2020 Project at JPL; and BA Winston, global head of Digital Video Playback and Delivery at Amazon Prime Video, joined moderator Michelle Munson, co-founder and CEO of Eluvio, to discuss how cloud-based workflows and machine learning are altering the ways we collect and navigate data.
Another session was ‘Star Wars: Join the Rebellion’ featuring Marla Newall, match-move and layout supervisor, Eddie Pasquarello, VFX supervisor, and Erich Ippen, lead lookdev technical director – all hailing from Industrial Light & Magic – in conversation with Noah Kadner, contributing writer at ASC Magazine. The group discussed how the studio created some of the film’s visual effects sequences and how the most complex shots were brought to life.
Another highlight of the event was the ‘From Podcast to Broadcast’, a keynote session featuring ‘Alex, Inc.’s executive producers, Zach Braff and Matt Tarses, the creators and host of the breakout hit podcast ‘Up and Vanished’, and others. Award-winning country music band Old Dominion performed at the new We Are Broadcasters Celebration.