Category Archives: Technology

Technology Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

UNI Digital Media Students Head to NAB Radio Show in Orlando!

Today’s the day! The University of Northern Iowa’s Digital Media students are off to this year’s NAB Radio Show! Professor Torre will be accompanying this years participants: Monica Cruise, Kaylee Daniels, Nick Langel, Gabrielle Leitner, Brandon Lynch, and Rachel Renes to the Show in Orlando, Florida. All of the participants are interested in careers in the digital media world, and conventions like this are great opportunities for students to learn more about the industry.

NAB Radio Show

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Radio Show is an annual trade show that keeps producers and consumers in the radio industry up to par with the new things happening today like Podcasts, interactive advertisements, etc. At this convention there will be guest speakers, performances by popular singers, and booths with information about companies in the industry.

Before heading to the Radio Show, we each created a presentation about some aspect of the radio industry to share with each other. We learned about the history of radio and where it started to new technology hoping to make a step into the industry, like interactive ads. We also learned about advertisements and how important they are in the radio world.

We created a short video about what we are most excited about going into this trip:

While on this trip we want to document our adventure and what we have learned so we assigned roles for everyone so that we all are able to participate in this group project, but also do what we enjoy and create a journey shown through digital media. We have a production group, which is in charge of getting video from the Radio Show and content to put all together at the end. We have some questions we are wanting to ask some of the presenters and employers at the booths to get and learn more information on a one-on-one level. We also have a social media group to provide exciting content throughout the trip. To stay updated you can follow us @DigitalMediaUNI on Facebook and Twitter!

On behalf of the UNI Digital Media participants in this year’s NAB Radio Show, we want to give a big thank you to Professor Torre for taking us on this trip, and to the Iowa Broadcasters Association for supporting this great opportunity to gain experience in the industry!

-Monica Cruise

NAB 2018: Broadcasting and Beyond!

The moment has come and gone. The 2018 National Association of Broadcasters show was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. From April 9 through 11,  a group of ten Digital Media students from the University of Northern Iowa ventured to this brightly lit city to experience and learn all that is new and progressing in the media industry. Panels about the creation of a major movement for film, question and answer sessions with famous cinematographers, educational panels about new and advancing technologies greeted us, and that didn’t include all the exhibits and companies showcasing their products and networks.

NAB 2018

On April 9th, a series of panels, titled the Creative Masters Series, spoke about the ever-changing methods that are defining the film industry. The opening panel, discussed the recent Marvel superhero film, Black Panther, and the process of making a superhero film like no other. Editor Michael P. Shawver, sound designer Steve Boeddeker, and visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Baumann answered questions about the process of creating such a culturally involved film, as well as explaining the details of creating the Marvel blockbuster. The three guests showed pieces from the film that best explained their creative process.

The second panel was a question and answer panel focusing on the director of photography, Janusz Kaminski, known for his work with many films directed by Steven Spielberg, like Saving Private Ryan, Minority Report, BFG, and Ready Player One. It was eye opening experience to sit in on the discussion focusing on how cinematography has changed through the years. Kaminski talked about how quickly the technology has changed, and the different tactics used to create those scenes and shots that made these films. He explained how cinematography is an art form more than anything else, showing clips of his works that further explained his process for each movie. His shared his distaste for using CGI, and the struggles a cinematographer faces with visual effects technology.

The final panel of the Creative Master Series was titled “Jessica Jones: The Art of Darkness,” with panelists, Melissa Rosenberg, the series creator, executive producer and showrunner, Tony D’Amore, the series colorist, encore, and Manuel Billeter, the director of photography. This panel brought to light how the Netflix Marvel series itself has changed the concept of the original superhero movie through a darker plot, encompassing the strength of the female protagonist. Each panel gave insight into the film industry and the changes being made in creating  new stories.

All of the exhibits gave way to an experience of a lifetime. Being able to see all the new products that have recently came out and are coming soon to the world of broadcasting. When visiting the exhibitor hall you get a new experience at every booth. One exhibitor hall focused on the technology, with a lot of sound boards, cameras, drones, and virtual reality equipment displayed allowing viewers to mess around with the products themselves.

The NAB Show allowed ten UNI Digital Media students to see and attend sessions and panels discussing a wide range of topics. They saw and met with exhibitors from all around the world, and were given a chance to look into the world of digital media a little closer. There were hands on exhibits showcasing virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and sports broadcasting. The world of digital media is always changing, which means our students are always learning!

-Taylor Horvatich

NAB 2018: Immersing Fans in Sports Broadcasting

Sports have always been a major cornerstone of America’s favorite past time. It’s one of the best forms of entertainment and engagement for millions of people. There were a number of sports exhibitors at this years NAB Show: Sportradar, FOX Sports, Neilson eSports, NBC Sports Digital & Playmaker Media, Glory Sports International, Fan Controlled Football League, and more. They were all there to demonstrate their upcoming tech in the online sports industry.

Not only has the world of sports been changing greatly, but the way we deliver and showcase this content has revamped the way we become immersed in the game. Here are some of the things we got to experience and hear at the NAB Show!

NAB 2018 SportsWatching sports has always brought up-close action directly to fans. This has all been done with new tech, trends, production quality, non-stop sports coverage, social media, etc. Loyal fans demand only the best quality video, anywhere, at anytime. This has set new challenges for online sports agencies and how they deliver content. It has to set the new bar for quality entertainment and action that all fans can really get immersed in.

At the session “Speed, Position, Power – Connecting Today’s Sports Fans with Data” a panelist from Sportradar discussed the importance of small details that can be delivered to the audience in ways that make huge impacts on the way we watch sports. Not only data that we get from the action of the plays, but the action happening behind the scenes and in between plays. They showcased their website design and how it could take tremendous amounts of data and compress it to the point where fans have easy access to what they want to see from their favorite sports team.

Many announcements of new ways of delivering sports content were made through the week at NAB. But there was one whole brand new way to actually be part of the sports team. Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL) announced that will officially launch early of 2019 with their newest partner, Twitch. It’s the very first of its kind of interactive sports game platform.

NAB 2018 Sports 2

Real football teams ran by the fans. They control the plays, roster, and earn fan tokens throughout season. All of this is done in real time using the Twitch platform. “This is the closest you can get to managing your own football team. For the first time ever, fans actually control what they want to see.” This new type of sports platform will become the next big leap forward for the world of sports and the way we engage with it.

NAB 2018 Sports 3

So next time you sit down with the bag of chips on the couch and tune into the sports channel, be ready for some of the newest advancements in the world of sports entertainment. Between the content that is being delivered, the data being researched, or even the way fans play the game, sports will continue to be one of America’s most enjoyable pastimes.

-Nick Langel

NAB 2018: A Closer Look at Booths and Exhibits

When attending a convention the size of NAB, things can feel a bit overwhelming at times. With a whopping 1700 booths and exhibitors, an even more impressive 100,000 attendees, and three multi-floored convention halls the size of multiple football fields, at times it was difficult to know exactly where to start and what to look out for. So naturally, we explored, and with exploration comes discovery. As we attempted to scour every square inch of the Las Vegas Convention center, all while of course picking up some cool “swag”, we encountered some really interesting booths showing off their latest technology advances.

NAB 2018 Cheqroom

YI Technology, pronounced like the letter “E”, was one of the companies we encountered in the central convention center. YI is a tech company based out of China that specializes in action and mirrorless cameras, but at NAB they were there to show some of their latest advancements. In 2018, YI is planning on joining the growing trend of virtual reality as they unveiled their latest cameras capable of 3D-VR, 3D 360 degree cameras, and a specialized 3D virtual reality camera.

Talking with one of their representatives, they spoke about how YI sees virtual reality as the future of video content. “Virtual reality is really just in its beginning stages at this point in time. Who knows, we might even see schools of the future being taught completely through virtual reality.” The perspective that YI has on VR was something that really intrigued us. Right now it really does feel as if virtual reality is a bit of a niche market, but with major tech companies like YI making strong advances with the technology, we really could see VR becoming more and more consumer friendly.

Another exhibitor that stood out among the masses was the Aputure booth. Aputure is a media company that specializes in lighting technology for video production and photography. Fittingly, the booth was decked out with their latest models ranging from high end, to more consumer and student friendly lighting kits. Additionally, throughout the convention Aputure brought in many different YouTubers and Social Influencers that gave presentations on how they use lighting within their content.

On our last day of the convention Aputure brought in Levi Allen, a YouTuber and filmmaker from Left Coast Media. He gave a presentation on his various lighting techniques that he uses within his business and channel, and also showed us some live demonstrations using the Aputure lights. At the end of his presentation, his words resonated with a few of us. “I want you to all go out and create something and share it with the world. What’s the point of making stuff if you’re not going to share and let people experience in it?” His words were really inspiring, and a good way to round out the convention as we finished producing some of our own media projects about the NAB show.

These were merely two of the almost 2000 booths featured at the NAB show. Some other standouts were the Avid Booth, where they showed off their much maligned (at least by some digital media students) editing software; Cheqroom, a European company specializing in equipment checkout software; and of course the “dancing” robot presented by BOLT.

The sheer number of companies and booths in attendance really showed us students how many opportunities there are in the media industry. We were able to network, get a glimpse into some new tech we may be adding to our toolkits in the near future, and of course you know we scooped up whatever free goodies we could get our hands on. Interestingly enough, most of the free “swag” we received was just different branded tote bags, but we of course were thankful nonetheless. Once our time at the convention came to an end, we headed out the doors of the Las Vegas Convention center, bags in hand, and hundreds of different company names to Google when we got home to look for job and internship opportunities. NAB 2018 was a success, to say the least.

-Tristan Bennett

NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence

The National Association of Broadcasters Show featured a series of panels discussing the topic of artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the advances in technology today, there are so many different ways AI tech is being used right now. In the use of the algorithms of Google, to the popular home necessity, the Amazon Alexa. The panels presented during the NAB show, focused on how AI and machine learning is changing the media landscape.

NAB 2018 AI

Whether it is through production or video editing, AI is beneficial and is continuing to grow to better the broadcasting industry. The panel titled, “How AI Will Take Productivity in the Broadcast Industry to the Next Level” presented by Dr. Johan Vounckx, explained how machine neural networks are being developed that can teach computers to read and then be able to make connections through the content it discovers.  By developing these systems of networks, computers will be able to put together conclusions and provide output that can be based the system researched. Computer algorithms like this are already being tested in spotting ‘fake news’ generated by unverified sources and helping people identify and verify sources accurately.

With broadcasting, we can use AI to “crop and zoom to ensure the best part of the video is placed in the desired size and aspect ratio.” This will give AI a bright future that will increase the uses of helpful AI that will better our jobs and allow us to go beyond in broadcasting. Dr. Johan Vounckx also explained that “AI helps people, it does not replace them.”

The panel titled, “AI Driven Smart Production,” presented by Yuko Yamanouchi from the Science and Technology Research Lab NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation, explained how AI can benefit the news and sports broadcasting industries. She explained how Smart Production is used for news gathering and editing with big data analysis. An example would be a social media analysis system, that can extract tweets that might be useful for news production, using a “recent neural network, categorizing information into 24 types such as ‘fire’ or ‘accident.’” This use of AI can help in searching for news and updates on ongoing stories with the news industry.

Yamanouchi also explained how in broadcasting footage, smart production or AI technology can be helpful in face recognition of the live broadcast that can be modified for those hard of hearing or hard of seeing can understand what is going on during the live broadcast. The AI would be an animated person that would sign what is being said during a live sports broadcast, or an animated voice would be able to explain what is happening in the shot of the live broadcast, explaining in detail the events on screen.

The panel, “Cantemo: How Could Artificial Intelligence Help Us Better Manage Video Content?” presented by Mike Szumlinski, manager at North American Cantemo brought to light just how AI is already being used by companies and consumers and what to expect or can be expected in the future. He explained how AI can be used with strategic storytelling, and how video producers achieve their goals more efficiently and effectively, thus speeding along access to information and helping collate it. Szumlinski also explained how “The machines are not taking over (yet)” as the main purpose for AI is just helping achieve better results for video producing.

In the use of AI, he explained how with audio transcription, the use of natural-language processing to identify all audio contents of a video clip will still need human guidance as words can hold different meanings in different locations and cultures. Szumlinski explained how AI can be beneficial in video producing as it can detect emotions and identify the ten best shots to form a trailer for a film. With personalizing content, AI is already in use with algorithms to personalize content for individuals based on the information about them on mass scale.

AI was also presented during the NAB show in the exhibits of companies that use algorithms and machine learning as well as AI with their content and products. An example of companies that were attending the NAB and use AI and/or machine learning include, Google and their use of algorithms to provide the best content for its users, Amazon and their use of algorithms and machine learning with providing content and products and in their use of the Amazon Alexa, EchoStreams, who is a server platform provider that uses machine learning and AI, and ICX Media who use machine learning and AI in their server platform for data-inspired storytelling and in helping video creations, and distributions.

The NAB Show showcased AI technology and the advancements being made in the media and broadcasting industry. As the world of digital media continues to make progress with technological advancements, who knows what will be showcased in the years to come.

-Taylor Horvatich

iPhone X: Revolutionary for the world or Revolutionary for Apple?

No doubt the iPhone X is one of the most talked about phones coming to the market in early November, but is it honestly as revolutionary as they make it? I’m going to get this out of the way right now, I AM AN APPLE FANBOY. I love Apple. I watched the launch event and at first I was blown away by how amazing and revolutionary this new iPhone seemed to be. But when I really thought about it, about the new facial recognition, the augmented reality feature, and wireless charging. And I realized the new iPhone is not really as revolutionary as Apple claims.

iPhoneLet’s get down to some of the main features that they emphasized in the ‘Revolutionary’ iPhone. The new iPhone X is now offering wireless charging with the new glass back they incorporated into the new set of phones. Do not let it fool you though. I mean how many times do you put your phone on the charger and not needed to use it? Wireless charging sounds better than it actually is, because you cannot charge your phone and use it at the same time. Wireless charging has also been around since 2009, and Samsung, Apple’s largest competition, had wireless charging in 2013.

iPhone

Next onto one of the biggest additions into the new iPhone, Facial recognition. First off facial recognition was first used on the Google Nexus in 2011. Apple claims that this new system is better than the Touch ID. They claim that mask, clay molds of your face, and pictures will not fool the iPhone X and will only open to your face but if you have a twin they might be able to get in. This technology is so smart that it can recognize you when you grow a beard, wear a hat, cut your hair, wear sunglasses etc. I mean at the Apple event the demonstration went so well, watch one of Apple’s biggest live event fails here.

iPhone

As an iPhone owner, I have been waiting for Apple to incorporate an OLED display for the longest time. Apple has been using a Retina Display while Samsung has been using a beautiful OLED display since 2013. Apple is a little late to the party, also Apple is a little late with the edge to edge display, Samsung beat them to the case there too. I am not the only Apple user not really impressed with this new ‘Revolutionary’ phone, neither is popular YouTuber SSSniperwolf.

Is this phone revolutionary for consumers or is it revolutionary for an iPhone? Because through my research, most of the key specs that make this new iPhone ‘revolutionary’ have already been incorporated into phones in the past. Will you be buying the iPhone X? Why or why not? How do you think that it compares to other phones, like the Samsung Note 8 and Galaxy S8?

-Aaron Graham

NAB 2017: Mobile Video & Second Screening

We have returned from Las Vegas with heads swimming with new information and experiences! Our topics of mobile video advertising and streaming were not covered as explicitly as we had hoped for, but “second screening” was a big success for us. We learned extremely engaging information from one session in particular, and you can hear Zildjian talk about this in the our video below.

Mobile VideoThe session was titled “2nd Screening as the Key to Effective TV Experience Enhancement & Audience Engagement.” Topics discussed included: how to use second screens effectively, how to enhance customer value, and how to generate overall involvement with the media.

Another session, “The Mobile App-Driven Video Revolution is Here,” addressed a wide variety of topics from AR (augmented reality) and its future with television, to the distribution issue that consumers will face trying to get the content they want. Olivia discusses the most important takeaways from this session in our video:


Overall at NAB, our production team learned a great deal about what the future of TV will look like, both through the use of apps and second screens. It is not enough to just have those components available; they have to be engaging for the audience to truly be effective. Only time will tell if these trends change our TV reality.

-Zildjian Bartels, Piper Davis, Olivia Guns & Madison Steffen

NAB 2017- Virtual Reality is Sick!* (*Caution, may cause nausea)

We’re back from Las Vegas, and we are telling the whole world about what happened there, or at least our handful of internet followers! We went to the 2017 National Association of Broadcasters Show to explore existing and future Virtual Reality technologies and uses. The NAB Show gave us an extensive look at solutions industry professionals are implementing in order to push VR technologies into the media market and into our society.

Virtual Reality

We previously mentioned concerns with nausea, and we immediately discussed these issues with Edwin Rogers, owner of VR Video. Rogers, featured in our video below, said that the industry is combating some of these issues with body stabilization and other production techniques.

The newest rage in VR is 4K resolution. 4K creates beautifully immersive footage, but also requires massive files. As we know, this presents various issues for those with slow bandwidth and little storage. Currently there isn’t much of a solution for these massive files, just a suggestion to “throw money at bandwidth” via Google. The point is, we are somewhat ahead of ourselves, and the industry needs to catch up on viable options for file sharing.

Our final area of investigation involved our curiosity about consumer adoption. Sure, VR is a great tool for filmmakers and entertainers, but how can it be integrated into society? Augmented reality provides a look at existing environments that are able to be altered in order to create plans, such as realtors providing frames for future construction, or the plans of a building for a firefighter entering a dangerous area never explored previously. The point is, virtual reality is here and bigger than ever, and you might find yourself using this technology in your own field regardless of your affiliation to video production.

Here is the short video we created about our VR Adventure!

You can also check out a more personal documentation of our journey, thanks to our team member Josh Berendes, through his Daily Doc’s featured on his YouTube! (Like and subscribe, which we have to say for the sake of shutting up Josh.)

The benefits of traveling to Las Vegas as students were staggering. To be able to witness the media industry from production to distribution, including cinematography, directing, engineering, etc. gave us a one-of-a-kind opportunity to really decide what we want to pursue in this industry. It isn’t often that a university program is able to fund students to attend this sort of event. We are truly thankful to UNI Digital Media Leadership for the opportunity. It was a once in a lifetime experience!

– Josh Berendes, Marielle Gaiser, Tom Randolph & Kyle Stoutenberg