NAB 2016: Tech Advances You May Have Missed, Part 1
by Brian Ring, SVG Contributor
No surprise, NAB 2016 was packed with as much innovation in every product segment as the 2015 edition. So it’s a pleasure to walk to the edges of each hall in search of technology breakthroughs readers may have missed.
Four of my favorite innovations this year are ideal for collegiate and long-tail sports producers. Here’s a wish list for your 2016-17 college-sports production budget.
Multiple Angles With One Camera
(Nine, to be exact.)
The Mevo is a tiny, beautiful camera with a 150-degree lens, built-in stereo microphones, and a 4K sensor. So why does it output only 720p? Because the Mevo is designed to use those extra pixels to produce nine distinct source outputs, which can be switched in real time with the Livestream Studio HD550 or the Mevo iOS App.
Professionals have used 4K-enabled “freeze-frame and zoom-in” shots as a regular storytelling technique for years. But, with Ethernet, WiFi, and LTE connectivity, a sleek stand, and an optional battery pack, the Mevo’s “single-camera, multiple-angles” implementation may well make this the next big thing since GoPro. If that feature list isn’t enough, it’s also worth noting that the Mevo + Livestream platform was the only live-production platform that had pushbutton publishing to Facebook Live.
The downside? It’s currently available for only pre-order. And, at $299, you can bet there’ll be a waiting list before long. www.getmevo.com
Automated Live Production: Switching, Tracking, Zooming
If you have multiple cameras and not a single camera operator, AutomaticTV out of Barcelona can help you produce a sports match using artificial intelligence. The company is attempting to build a fully automated production system without any human intervention. Does that sound impossible?
Maybe. But there’s simply not enough money in youth, long-tail, and many collegiate sports to have human crews panning, tilting, zooming, and switching those cameras. As a result, the productions aren’t sufficiently compelling for viewers and advertisers, and the cycle continues.
The AutomaticTV AI engine seems to be changing that. With coverage for most indoor and outdoor sports, AutomaticTV can boost production values at minimal additional cost. The demos at NAB 2016 were better than many sports productions I’ve seen, some of which use a fixed camera without AI, and without a human camera operator either. www.automatic.tv
Live streaming sure does seem like a hot category that will define the future of sports video, but today’s reality is that live viewership online is very small compared with linear TV.*
For that reason, one of the big trends we’ll see over the next few years is the syndication of a single live stream to multiple platforms. And the leading social platforms will be at the top of the list.
As a result, it was fascinating to see two video SaaS (software-as-a-service) startups exhibiting this capability at NAB 2016.
EasyLive was the more robust of the two platforms, packed with such features as the ability to burn motion graphics into the stream before syndication and the ability to clip-out highlights from the stream and publish them to the same social accounts.
Perhaps the most important feature that EasyLive demonstrated was a pushbutton integration to Facebook Live. Only a few companies at NAB 2016 had such integrations, given that Facebook Live was released only recently. In my view, that integration alone speaks to the vision and credibility of EasyLive, a company you’re sure to hear more about in the next 12 months. www.goeasylive.com
In fact, the only major gap I saw in the EasyLive product was analytics. And, for that, Switchboard Live has a good solution.
After all, with the privilege of streaming to eight or 10 platforms simultaneously comes the responsibility of collecting and aggregating viewing data from each one.
Formerly known as Joicaster, Switchboard Live solves that problem, along with a few others. For example, the Switchboard Live product also enables admin users to engage in chat with the stream directly from within the user dashboard. www.Switchboard.Live
*Note: Whether you’re researching viewing metrics for eSports, NFL, or any other genre of live-streaming video, be sure to look at a metric that is measuring concurrent or average streams, which are closer conceptual equivalents to the Nielsen “average” viewer metric that advertisers have relied on for decades. For more on this important issue, check out Brian Stelter’s article on CNN Money.
Stay tuned for part 2 of “Tech Advances You May Have Missed next week at Sportsvideo.org.