SVG NAB Report: Day One

Grass Valley broke out the big guns for its press event: Senior Executive Vice president for Thomson, GV’s parent, Jacques Dunogue set the tone. “This next year is critical for everybody,” he said. In terms of intros the company showed its new Mustang MPEG-4 HD chip. The chip pumps high-definition video out in as little as 4 Mbps. Systems built from the chip are a perfect fit for the efficient long-haul encoding needs of some remote sports venues… The company also showed new upgrades in the LDK8000 HD multiformat camera. The camera now supports 1080/50P or 60P formats… Servers are a big story at this year’s NAB — smaller faster and way cheaper. And fast growing server-maker Omneon showed its new MediaDeck unit. The computer supports essentially all modern standards of MPEG-2 HD from 28 to 799 Mb/s. The unit can feed up to 6 standard definition channels at once and runs on Omneon’s ProXchange media asset management software. “The unit is very aggressively priced,” said Geoff Stedman, vice president marketing for Omneon.

“Three terabytes for $36,000 U.S. list.”… Sports broadcasters and program producers looking to quicken the pace of the acquisition and subsequent editing process have a variety of news option at NAB from Panasonic. Topping the list is Panasonic’s AG-HPX500. The new shoulder-mounted P2 HD camcorder teams the full production-quality of 2/3-inch 3-CCDs, DVCPRO HD, 4:2:2 sampling and independent frame encoding with the versatility of interchangeable lenses and the creativity of variable frame rates. More importantly, it’s $14,000 price tag and availability next month makes it a solution that doesn’t rely on promises. “The full 2/3-inch production quality AG-HPX500 sets a new value benchmark and will quickly distinguish itself as the workhorse camera for the vast range of professional applications,” said Robert Harris, Vice President, Marketing, Panasonic Broadcast. “The camcorder’s P2 HD solid-state reliability, IT system flexibility and workflow speed, combined with the DVCPRO HD quality is unparalleled in the pro video industry.”Need a robust, live broadcast-ready server to replace tape in your sports production environment? The MediaDeck is worth considering… Sports producers looking for production efficiency should consider ContentShare2, Grass Valley’s integrated media asset production tool. Essentially ContentShare2 turns every asset in the production chain into an module that is available in real-time: View, pre-edit, catalog, precheck for air, work in post and even go to air all from one system. Slick…. Perhaps the biggest news of day, in terms of sheer scope, came from Chyron. The Melville, New York company announced an entire new product line. They showed a new HyperX2 graphics and animation device. The unit allows for full 3-D animations to be built and fed from two channels simultaneously. The unit has major implications for sports producers since one work station can create, edit, animate and go-to-air with two different show elements at once… Chyron also displayed WAPSTR, a tool that grooms user-generated content (read: cell phone video) for broadcast in faster-than-real-time. The company showed a new software developers kit and, in a bow to the growing power of Adobe in the professional video world, Chyron said it will support Adobe’s XMP metadata standard…

Snell & Wilcox took a more analytical approach to their new products for 2007. There showed a new trimmer version of their popular Kahuna SD/HD production switchers. These units are perfect for the small sports production truck… Snell also showed impressive results with their Alchemist Ph.C-IP file based standards converter. The code improves image quality by managing deinterlacing and other compression issues. Sports producers needing to save money on bandwidth costs should take a look… Apple made a splash in lower-end video production. It released Final Cut Studio 2, the largest upgrade for Final Cut in several years. The once strictly desktop-only video post tool now has real live production chops…. The product supports full HD, offers most of its audio, video and image processing tools in real-time and comes complete with centralized media access thanks to the a new Final Cut Server. And Apple also announced a new ProRes 442 HD video compression format that Apple claims is visually on par with 1080P and other high definition formats… Sports producers would be remiss if they dismissed Final Cut Studio as merely a low-end solution. Rob Schoeben, vice president of application and marketing for Apple, showed an extensive installation of Final Cut at KCBS-LA. The software was the production tool of choice. And you simply can’t beat the price: $1,299 for Final Cut Studio and $999 for 10 seats of Final Cut Server. That’s really, really cheap.

The pre-NAB press day wound down with the official launch of MPH (Mobile Pedestrian Handheld), a new mobile DTV system from Harris and LG Electronics that is 100% ATSC compatible. The system is being demonstrated this week at the show with Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s local Las Vegas affiliate KVCW pushing out a real-time MPH-encoded version of the channel’s programming. A seven-inch un-tuned whip antenna pulls in the signals. “For broadcasters this means delivering stunning HD to fixed sets while reaching viewers on low-bit rate mobile devices,” says Dr. HG Lee, LG Electronics president and CTO…

Sony unveiled XDCAM EX, a camcorder based on San Disk Xpress Flash memory. Sony says its ability to record an hour on a 16 GB card will give a market advantage as each camera can hold two cards. The first version will have half-inch sensors and can operate at multiple framerates…When Panasonic introduces its 16 GB P2 solid-state memory card in May the cards will set a new pricing benchmark: $900. The current 8 GB cards will drop to $700 while the 32 GB cards expected to be delivering later this year will cost $1800… Meanwhile Sony announced its largest single camera deal ever as NEP purchased 150 Sony HDC1500 cameras. “If our gear doesn’t operate flawlessly everyday we’re out of business,” says Lou Borrelli, NEP CEO. “We’re excited to commit to the 1500 camera, we value its reliability, and it can work in any format around the world…

CrossCreek also purchased 19 HDC1500 cameras for a new production unit…In other Harris news swing by the booth to learn more about the company’s deal with the NFL to provide HD instant replay systems at all but three of the leagues 31 stadiums (the three exceptions are Giants Stadium, the RCA Dome, and Irving Stadium as all three will be replaced by new stadiums). The products to check out include the Nexio HD server, an HD version of FORCE software, and routing and distribution gear… Avid Technology continues to evolve its Unity storage lineup with Unity 5.0. The company says it delivers twice the performance of version 4.0, ranges from 4 to 40 TB of capacity and pricing starts at $25,000… In other Avid news the MediaStream 9000 server, built on the 8000, includes HD and SD playout and support of XDCAM HD and Long GOP SD and HD… The Harris Centrio multiviewer could come in handy in mobile vehicle applications. It’s built inside the router, reducing cabling and components… The company also announced an extended five-year warranty for full-size P2 camcorders. “It gives customers four years of extended warranty coverage on top of the first year at no cost, an affirmation of our confidence in the sold-state approach… also look for the new AJ-HPX3000 2.2 million pixel P2 HD camcorder for big budget productions on the hunt for 100 Mbps acquisition at near D5 quality… Omneon has added the MPEG2 HD codec ASIC as the basis for a new Omneon Mediaport server interface. “It’s at least a generation beyond anything else available today and it has guaranteed compatibility with XDCAM HD,” says Larry Kaplan, Omneon chairman. AJA Video and Canopus are also integrating MPEG2 HD while Avid has plans to do the same… those committed to a single HD format will want to check out the HDC1400, a lower-cost version of the 1500 that doesn’t is either 720p or 1080i.

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