Learning Las Vegas
NBC wants to know all about the new camera systems
By Glen Dickson -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/22/2004 7:00:00 PM
NBC Shopping List:
Education is paramount. Just ask Dave Rabinowitz, VP of engineering and technology, NBC, who says NAB 2004 will be a learning experience for his technology team, not a shopping expedition.
"There are a lot of interesting and exciting things going on in the application of technologies to the business. What are some of the new things coming out in HDTV? Are there any different approaches with HDTV compared to traditional television production and distribution?'"
Rabinowitz doesn't have a particular convention focus. Instead, he appreciates the gestalt: "From acquisition to post-production to distribution, I want to look across all of the functions." What does he find exciting? Rabinowitz is enamoured of acquisition technology, particularly the camera systems based on optical-disc (Sony's XDCAM) or solid-state technology (Panasonic's P2 camera lineup). "I want to learn more about the functionality as you treat video as files," he says, "and follow the chain through the entire production process and onto distribution."
An important issue to consider, says Rabinowitz, is the impact that new acquisition technology will have on existing nonlinear editing systems. "In the editing space, one of the interesting things is how to manage and move content around as you transition from tape-based, non–file-based video to a non–tape-based, file-based entity."
While file-based video makes it easy to share content, it raises a new set of media-management issues for production staffs, he adds. In tackling these challenges, he notes, NBC will benefit from its long experience in using servers to handle program playout. The NBC network has been originating off Thomson Grass Valley Profile video servers since 1998.
While NBC has no pressing need to replace its Profiles, Rabinowitz will be examining the latest generation of server technology in Las Vegas and learning more about server functionality.
"Some people have approached servers as a drop-in for tape machines, while others have leveraged them for multiple channels, greater mix-effects capability, and Fibre Channel connectivity," he says. "We've been blessed by riding waves of greater storage densities and greater processing power with the [Profile] XP."
Rabinowitz wants to evaluate how improved compression technology is handling both high-definition and standard-definition server applications and see how the latest models link to automation software. To control its Profiles, NBC already uses proprietary automation software created by GE's Global Research center in Schenectady, N.Y. "The feature sets in these servers is a key issue in our core operation with respect to automation," he explains. "On servers, I want to know what sort of control functionality is available. With routers, I want to know how rich the interface set is and whether it allow us to do creative things with effects."
Other technologies Rabinowitz will examine at NAB are graphics systems with flexible user interfaces, robust content-management systems, new ways of shifting content between IP-based delivery systems and play-to-air servers, and the latest advances in upconversion and downconversion gear.
"To create an integrated system for on-air operation is what I look for," he says. "I'm not looking for the end of the product to just have a 601 spigot. Instead, I'm looking for control, integration, and networking."
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