Notes From NAB: Day II

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There's an old saying, what happens in Vegas goes on the blog.

It was a big day at the convention, with a tough speech from NAB President David Rehr and the news that NBC was returning to the fold. Appropos of nothing, now I know why they called it NBC 2.0, that's the network's average prime time rating.

But I digress.

Rehr talked about the need for broadcasters to start coming up with better terminology for itself and the issues it cares ab out, including a new moniker for "free over-the-air broadcasting," which he labeled "a bit clunky and perhaps outdated."

That made me want to come up with a "rename the broadcasting business" contest. How about "hyper wireless service." That sounds futuristic….

There was a somber undertone after news of the Blacksburg shootings began to filter into a convention center focused on robotic cameras, transmitters, and the like. It wasn't long before some media content critics were trying to tie the shootings to media violence, as happened after Columbine, which ironically also happened during an NAB convention.

That prompted another group opposing content regs to weigh in, saying broadcasters had a responsibility to report the shootings but to do so carefully, adding that some of the first footage was from citizen journalists with cell phones…..

I went to a 3D TV demonstration that knocked my socks off.It was sponsored by the Sports Video Group  and featured highlights from the NBA All-Star game, which was held in Vegas.

I'm no expert on 3D TV, though I still have a tape of a 3D Rose Parade from a decade go when the state of the art were those red and green cardboard glasses and the 3D was confined to essentially several depths of flat images, like those old Viewmaster reels of my distant youth.

This was nothing like that. The polarized glasses looked like Raybans and the video was stunning. The players, cheerleaders, and Vegas stars–Wayne Newton and showgirls with pink feather headpieces among them–were rounded and fully three-dimensional. The sound was arguably even more impressive, from the squeak of the tennis shoes to the metallic whump of the rim as players dunked to the sound of the ball on the court, the sound also seemed three dimensional.

The NBA tested the technology for an audience at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino during February's game, and the NBA rep at the demos said that at one point, the crowd in the footage jumped to their feet during a play, at which point the TV audience at the Mandalay Bay jumped up to see over the heads of that on-screen audience.

The NBA is looking to use the technology for remote venues, planning to broadcast games in China and Japan, importing cheerleaders and former players to add to the experience.

For those for whom it means something, the 3D HD was 1080 at 30 frames, using two Sony HD cameras.

If they started broadcasting Super Bowls, stage plays and cooking shows in 3D, I think I could be convinced to make that big-screen HD investment. Very, very impressive.

By John Eggerton

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