Yes, it’s that time of year again. For those of us immersed in the video industry, April is when we get a preview from broadcast and media equipment vendors of their new wares at the NAB Show in Las Vegas. For manufacturers, it’s a mad scramble to make sure new products are working (or least make it look like they work so they can be demonstrated). For attendees, there is a lot of walking around the Las Vegas Convention Center during the day (and pursuing other Vegas offerings at night). NAB has become the one-stop shop for learning about the latest technologies and trends in the video industry and deciding how to spend your capital budget during the rest of the year.
My first trip to the NAB Show was in 1990 in Atlanta, back before it found its permanent home in Las Vegas. The industry was on the cusp of moving from pure analog technology to starting to implement digital solutions. Companies such as AMPEX (remember them?) had huge booths filled with eager buyers. I worked for a small startup at the time that was pioneering digital video editing. I was envious of the big companies like AMPEX with their flashy hardware solutions. That envy didn’t last long.
THE FIRST DIGITAL WAVE
After that, the first wave of “digital solutions” came along. Companies like Abekas had huge booths filled with amazing digital solutions that seemed to mimic what the hardware vendors did, but offered greater flexibility and creativity. In effect, they were doing what had already been done, but with digital technology. The technology was interesting, but not necessarily compelling.
It wasn’t until vendors started delivering solutions that fundamentally changed the content creation and production process that digital technology finally took hold. The breakthrough came with the ability to store media in digital form, allowing multiple people in the same facility to easily collaborate during the content creation process. Multiple editors could seamlessly work together on the same television show or feature film. Journalists had quick access to any media at the station, making it easier and faster to update news stories as they developed. Suddenly, everyone in your facility could easily be involved in the content creation process. This changed how people worked.
The next wave extended those siloed workflows to include people in remote locations. Fortunately, networking technology and the internet were getting faster. Users were able to transfer or FTP media to someone in a remote location. A collaborator in a remote location could access proxies and low-resolution versions of media stored in a different location. Journalists in the field were able to view media at the station. It was finally realistic to purchase enough bandwidth for media to be shared across long-distances. The geographic barriers that hampered collaboration fell.
MOVING TO THE CLOUD
The next big disruption is underway. “The Cloud” is fundamentally changing how and where content is created. We have the ability for people to access media from anywhere, so why do we still need to build big centralized production centers? Why can’t the media and the media production services be virtualized or live in the cloud? The technology to fully virtualize the content creation process is here, although it may not all fit together as easily as we would have hoped (as the rollout of SMPTE 2022 and SMPTE 2110 have shown). However, it’s easy to see the demise of large centralized content production facilities is not that far away.
OTT TAKES HOLD
So, what’s next? Just as the content creation process has moved to a virtualized IP infrastructure, the content distribution process is also moving “over the top”. It is easier than ever for viewers to find content that appeals to them and stream it on demand. No longer do you need to wait for something to be “broadcast” to enjoy it. It is always available 24/7. Even live events are increasingly streamed online. Most major sporting events are now available anywhere on the device of your choice.
The final barrier to full adoption of online streaming is available bandwidth to ensure a “broadcast-quality” viewing experience. With the speed of consumer broadband and mobile connections increasing, consumers are beginning to enjoy even 4K streaming media at home. However, the core “Internet” doesn’t yet have enough bandwidth to support a major event like the Super Bowl where you might have more than 100 million Americans simultaneously streaming high-resolution video. That day is still a little way away. However, there are solutions available today to guarantee a great online viewing experience.
PUTTING VIEWER EXPERIENCE FIRST
Limelight Networks helps content distributors deliver the best online viewing experiences. The Limelight Orchestrate Platform includes a natively integrated online video platform, storage and security. With a QoS-enabled network of over 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs) and 21+ terabits per-second of egress capacity directly interconnected with major ISPs and last-mile networks, the Limelight Orchestrate Platform has the speed, capacity, and availability to support the largest global events, wherever your viewers are located. Limelight delivers the world’s largest events.
At NAB 2017, Limelight has been meeting with companies to talk about how to best deliver the next great video experience. If you are at the show, please stop by booth SU10714 to talk to our video technology experts. Because at Limelight, we are dedicated to enabling you to create the world’s best content experiences anywhere.