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NAB2007: The sporting life in Vegas

26 April 2007

Regular contributor Ken Kerschbaumer is also editor of sportsvideo.org, a US-based website dedicated to the sports TV broadcasting community. Here, he picks out NAB2007 highlights of particular interest to sports and/or OB practitioners.

The long-awaited Infinity camera system is expected to be shipping by late summer and Grass Valley gave potential customers a chance to see it in action with 11 Infinity camcorders on the stand being used to shoot programming. Other innovations at the Grass Valley booth included the ability to pre-purpose HD productions on the Kalypso production switcher so shots can more easily port over to cellphones and a new flavour of the Edius NLE system that is a free upgrade for 4.0 version users and has a user-defined GUI.

Wohler is entering new territory by expanding past its tried-and-true audio monitoring and into visual displays with its new HD Mon LCD Series. For NAB 2007, the company showed two preproduction models, the HD Mon 170, a 17″ 1920×1200 resolution colour LCD and the HD Mon 90, an 8.4″ with 1040×768 resolution. Rather than follow the “thin is in” fashion of most flat panel manufacturers, the Wohler products aim to serve as drop-in for already installed CRTs in OB trucks and vans. These match their form factor with lightweight aluminium mounts/cases that also serve as effective heatsinks and, according to the company, toughen up the LCDs compared to what is typically being used. In addition to being drop-in rack mount replacements, they are also easy to drop onto the tabletop and come with an integrated handle for easy carrying. Both include S-video, DVI, PC, and HD/SD-SDI video inputs with buffered loop-through.

Omneon’s MediaDeck typifies the kind of storage solution smaller networks and stations could use. The $36,000 unit includes four terabytes of storage and can support up to six simultaneous video channels. It also has redundant power supplies and the same core technologies found in higher-priced Omneon systems. The company also introduced a nifty Proxchange transcoder software feature for MediaGrid that allows for internal conversion from one video format to another. Geoff Stedman, Omneon VP of worldwide marketing, says the goal was to simplify operations and reduce the need to bounce content to an external device.

“Ear fatigue” from uncomfortable headphones is reduced thanks to the Riedel AIR series ultra lightweight headset. The AIR headset allows the user to communicate with their immediate environment and simultaneously listen and speak via the headset. The specially engineered DuPont Coolmax material used for the exchangeable ear cushions provide great breathability and comfort for long hours. The 270_ rotation of the microphone boom allows the microphone to be worn on either left or right side, and a noise compensating electret or dynamic microphone guarantees a high quality response.

Broadcast Pix showed its nifty little desktop control room systems. The company had some nice upgrades to its Version 6 software for its line of Slate switchers. These systems certainly fail the “big iron” sniff test that the top-end broadcaster demands, but it would be foolish to ignore the power of these tools. The Slate products offer customisable multi-view support for compressed clips, audio-follow-video with MIDI, three more keyers and other features. Not bad for unit that can run off a personal computer.

We had a chance to head over to suite 1350 in the Hilton Central Tower and check out Chilin’s latest broadcast-specific LCD flat panel displays. Available through the Linden Group in the US the robust full 1080p monitor line-up offer a tremendously wide viewing angle of 176 degrees and a response time of only 6.5 milliseconds grey to grey. And a 56-inch quad full HD panel with a maximum resolution of 3840×2160 offers stunning clarity that makes one hungry to see NHK’s UltraHD system eventually hit the market.

Telecast’s new Viper II SW6031 HD camera switch is looking to reduce the need to re-patch at an outside access I/O panel. The module allows operators inside the studio or truck to switch between SMPTE Hybrid camera cables, triaxial adapters, and fibre media. And the G2 CopperHead camera-mounted transceiver now runs in viewer wavelengths and also has swappable “sleds” to quickly be reconfigured for different connectors.

Vizrt continues to impress with next-generation tools designed to make it easier to port a high-end graphics look to broadband and mobile devices. By placing a small rendering engine on the device incoming graphics from Vizrt customers can have all of the flash and sizzle HDTV viewers get. The company also has a really table-based touch screen panel that is being used in Germany for game analysis as it allows multiple hosts to stand around it and simultaneously use it as a telestrator system.

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