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NAB Show 2008: Content and digitisation - new competition, old rules

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NAB Show 2008: Content and digitisation - new competition, old rules

The first day of the NAB Show 2008 clearly showed the focus that NAB is placing on content, and the technological side of broadcasting that the Association is so actively involved in. In addition to the keynote and the honouree sessions, the day saw the launch two new NAB Show offerings – the Content Theatre and Spotlight Series. Bob Barker’s 50-year career in broadcasting was also celebrated during NAB’s Television Luncheon, where Barker was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

The digital transition

One of the key topics that many have been speaking on at the NAB Show 2008 is the end of the analog era and the necessary quick steps that have to be taken for a smooth transition to the digital age. In the discussion ‘DTV Transition: partnership opportunities for cable operators and broadcasters’, industry heads delved on how these two components of the broadcasting industry should work together.

The speakers on the panel were Glenn Britt, President and CEO, Time Warner Cable; Brad Dusto, President, Western Division, Comcast Cable; Paul McTear, President and CEO, Raycom Media; John L (Jack) Sander, Senior Advisor, Belo Corporation; Robert Miron, Chairman and CEO, Advance/Newhouse Communications; Kyle McSlarrow, President and CEO, National Cable and Telecommunications Association. The moderator of the session was Richard Wiley, Partner, Wiley Rein, LLP.

The panel agreed on the part that cable operators and broadcasters were two important constituencies of the same industry and had work together. The panelists spoke on the different initiatives that they had put together to prepare for the forthcoming digital move in the US. The two areas of focus for both cable operators and broadcasters is consumer education and employee education. Jack Sanders said, “To work together for the two bodies is a business call, since the move to the digital transition would come with many questions where the consumers have to be geared for the change. The truth of the matter is that the button would be pushed one day and we have to be ready for that.”

Glenn Britt said that the executives had to be creative as well in their approach to the new age. He added, “We already are, but we have to be more innovative and creative on how we move from here.”

Robert Miron felt, “The broadcasters and cable operators have to operate as one voice, otherwise we both have much to lose.” Kyle McSlarrow advised here, “We have to break it down, and the broadcasters and cable operators should know what their roles are.” Amongst some of the initiatives planned, one is an advertising campaign to educate consumers on how they can get digital television and that there is a deadline to meet.

The Content Theatre

A look at the creation, production and distribution made possible by new technologies, the Content Theatre was filled to the capacity with more than 300 attendees for each session. Sponsored by Sony, Day One featured stereoscopic 3-D film and broadcast, including a demonstration of Sony’s groundbreaking F23 and F35 cameras.

Kicking off the Content Theatre in the morning, participants were given a 3-D primer by Paul Streather, CEO, Principal Large Format, and a leading veteran of the industry. Streather provided a fascinating history of 3-D filmmaking, with historical insights from the 1950s to the present. One of the highlights of the session was a discussion of 3-D image capture, content and production techniques from the movie ‘Bugs’, which was narrated by Oscar-winning actress Judi Dench and produced by Streather himself.

Content came to life in a captivating presentation during the lunchtime session with clips from the upcoming feature film ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D’. Attendees joined director Eric Brevig, producer Charlotte Huggins, director of photography Chuck Shuman and editors Ed Marsh and Paul Martin Smith to talk about the creative artistry, innovative production techniques and revolutionary technologies that were used to make the film.

In the afternoon, the Content Theatre was standing-room only as a group of film industry leaders showed clips and presented a case study of the groundbreaking film ‘U2 3D’, featuring concert footage from performances around the world. Producers and editors offered detailed descriptions of sound and visual editing techniques that were used during the film and demonstrated innovative image capture, graphics and post production capabilities.

Another afternoon session at the NAB Show Content Theatre offered the first live IPTV 3-D transmission. ‘Deal or No Deal’ television host Howie Mandel, live in Burbank, CA, presented a 3-D programme demo for participants. Featuring ‘3ality’ technologies and new motion capture techniques, the live session was a highlight of the Theatre schedule.

The final Content Theatre session of the afternoon showcased 3-D sports, with clips and discussion from executives from the NBA, Dallas Mavericks, Sony and PACE. Discussion and Q&A focused on the special requirements of 3-D capture for sports, as well as editing, film and live action nuances that present unique opportunities for the future of sports broadcasting.

The Spotlight Series

Designed to promote practical uses of content and discuss applications of different technologies, the series on April 14 provided various insights. A Conversation with ‘CSI’ executive producer and creator Anthony E Zuiker kicked off the Spotlight Series with an energetic discussion on his vision for the future of television. Zuiker focused on why television programming needed to encompass all distribution platforms – TV, broadband, mobile, games – providing a ‘deeper dive’ on each platform and ultimately driving the audience back to TV.

In another session, ‘Digital Innovation: What You Dream is What You Get’, Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO and Director of DreamWorks Animation; Todd Bradley, EVP, HP - Personal Systems Group; and Roger Enrico, Chairman of the Board, DreamWorks Animation, unveiled the HP DreamColor Technology computer display.

A Conversation with Doug Liman, producer and director of ‘The Bourne Identity’, ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ and ‘Jumper’ concluded the first day of the Spotlight Series with an insightful discussion on redefining must see TV. Liman explained through colourful anecdotes why experimenting with technology was vital to the future of entertainment.

Also read:

NAB Show 2008: NAB aims to revitalise radio; bury analog TV by February 2009

NAB Show 2008: Sex scandals, racism & mass media; NAB Show 2008 is officially open


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