Four Emerging Trends to Look Out for at NAB
NAB is upon us yet again…Technology vendors are ready for war to vie for your attention and potential dollars. The amount of marketing blitz you are hit with over and over can be overwhelming. Buzzwords are in constant rotation, but some have more lasting power than others (remember the Drone Pavilion?).
Here are the buzzwords I am most looking forward to at this year’s NAB:
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML): There have been a lot of developments on the AI/ML front, opening up tons of new opportunities and workflows. Being able to automatically extract metadata from your rich media assets can super-charge your MAM/DAM by making your content much more searchable. Transcription, Facial Recognition, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Logo Detection are just some of the hundreds of engines that can churn through your content unlocking potential you never knew was available. This is very new, but the rate at which it is advancing is staggering. When looking at these solutions, approach them with a “fresh set of eyes” as much as possible. Try to imagine new workflows and problems this can solve for you.
Cloud Workflow: Cloud is maturing each year, with Google and Microsoft really stepping up their game in an effort to compete with Amazon. Cloud storage for archive/disaster recovery is becoming more attractive as companies are looking to reduce their on-premise footprint. Cloud Compute is also getting smarter with more and more micro-services becoming available every day. Full editorial from the cloud is still a ways off, but some entrants into the space are finding creative ways to leverage the cloud to augment their editorial workflows. The main problem our industry faces here is the fact that resolution, frame rate, bit rates etc. (see also: file size) are only getting bigger, while the bandwidth required to drive such workflows from the cloud is lagging far behind; all the same it’s a good idea to continue to track developments in this space.
Interoperable Mastering Format (IMF): IMF is a file-based framework that can act as a pseudo versioning factory within a single packaged file. By including all required assets and a manifest to reference those assets, you are essentially saving the recipe, as opposed to saving all of the food. IMF is poised to be the industry standard for B2B delivery of media (a big thanks to Netflix for diving head first into IMF and driving adoption). In addition to streamlining the versioning and delivery processes, IMF also can cut back on the number of assets you need to track/manage and store. IMF is often misunderstood, and admittedly complicated. It is not uncommon for someone to refer to their hand-made package as “IMF-ish” because it doesn’t completely adhere to the established SMPTE protocol. Luckily more vendors are getting on board with IMF, which takes a lot of burden off the end user (who wants to write an XML manifest by hand anyhow?) More MAMs are including IMF packaging and playback tools out of the box, this is going to foster more adoption across our industry, it’s a good thing.
Blockchain: I can almost hear the collective groan from here… 2017 was a big year for cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology. There is a ton of economic volatility surrounding this emerging technology, but rather than treating it like a techno-lottery/get-rich-quick scheme we need to clear away all of the noise and take a critical look at how the blockchain is going to affect our industry. Smart Contracts and a decentralized ledger can disrupt the Media and Entertainment supply chain by getting more accurate audience analytics, providing targeted advertising, tracking rights management in the media supply chain, and much more. Think of how this might disrupt IMDB, Nielsen, DRM, or even FilmTrack and Rightsline. These disruptions may sound irrelevant to you because they may not directly correlate to video, what is important to realize is that one of the principles of the blockchain is that everything is tracked from inception, and any modification or transaction is tracked on the ledger. Before you know it, the executive in the corner office who used to be clamoring for “Cloud Cloud Cloud!” is suddenly saying “Blockchain Blockchain Blockchain!” When that happens you should be aware of how blockchain affects your workflows. Admittedly, this tech is still in its infancy, so don’t go to NAB expecting to buy the first product that claims to incorporate blockchain technology. That being said, this is the year to start looking at products and workflows with a forward looking approach. Don’t be afraid to ask vendors how they feel about blockchain, and how they expect it will impact their business.
IMT’s Advanced Consulting Team is plugged in to past, present and future workflows. We are aware that there is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all.” IMT looks forward to NAB as a chance to get some quality face time with clients and vendors alike. If you’d like some respite from the whirlwind of the show floor, be sure to stop by our suite at the Renaissance next door where we can have some quiet, focused conversations. Enjoy the show!
- Roy Burns, Consulting Systems Engineer, IMT