Get your show floor maps and digital day-timers ready. Advanced planning will be very important at the newly merged InfoComm and NSCA shows next month. The two massive shows, co-located with NXTcomm, will present an astounding number of exhibits and events
Fortunately, we can provide a bit of guidance for those wondering what to look for on the InfoComm show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center June 18-20. Those very same halls last month were home to NAB, where it was evident that computer-based non-linear editing systems, inexpensive camcorders, and similar gear have opened the world of production, post-production, and content management to a wide range of applications well within the purview of SCN readers.
What was on display at NAB that serves as a preview of InfoComm? Many things, and not all of them were products or services.
Following the lead of a full day of sessions at the Hollywood Post Alliances "Technology Retreat" in February, there was a great deal of attention to techniques and technologies for 3D video production and presentation. No longer something best associated with 1950s horror movies, 3D is expected to be the next big thing in video for theatrical presentations, training, and simulation and similar applications both in large-venue and meeting room installations.
Ultimately, of course, the goal is to deliver 3D to the home theater as well. With previews of 3D projection systems using DLP light engines at and after CES in January, that may no longer be a science fiction dream, but a mid- to near-term reality. Be on the lookout at InfoComm for devices that you will eventually use to play back 3D video for your clients.
Of course, for all the talk at NAB about new content, it is still the place to see the latest in production and post-production products. With the digital transition pushing broadcasters into HD on a local station, as well as national network basis, there were new HD camcorders from all the usual suspects, and you should definitely check them out as they appear at InfoComm.
Similarly, there were many more LCD monitors in evidence as flat panel displays replace CRT-based monitors as quickly in the professional world as they have in the consumer arena. No longer re-packaged consumer sets, there is now a wide selection of precision LCD monitors in a wide range of sizes that might not be appropriate for digital signage, but which are definitely required if your integration charter extends to control rooms or critical monitoring applications for medical or manufacturing inspection applications. Sony was even offering a 42-inch control room monitor with LED, rather than CCFL backlighting.
In terms of new technology, there was a great deal of attention to the OLED camera viewfinder monitor from Sony, and while not available yet, one exhibitor at NAB was showing an FED monitor that should be available next year.
The use of LCD monitors in remote production and "news van" applications also means that broadcasters will require monitors in a range of sizes for harsh environments and high ambient light applications. A large number of vendors have stepped up to the bar in that product category, and we expect many of them to also display products at InfoComm. If your clients require outdoor monitors for any application, your choices will be much greater than they have been in past years.
NAB is also the place to spot trends in audio production and distribution as a precursor to InfoComm. With the increasing complexity of multichannel audio, Dolby and many others showed hardware and software tools to measure and, in some cases, correct for audio coding, decoding, and transmission errors. If audio is part of your tool kit or line card, don't give it short shrift at InfoComm.
The moral of this month's story? Look beyond the obvious high-profile display product categories and dig down into how content is delivered-either from a network facility via new wireless networks, or within a venue via a combination of IP, wireless, and hard-wired solutions. Look at the products used to create content, as you don't want the old adage of "garbage in, garbage out" to cause your great distribution and display system to fall apart.