Category Archives: Technology

Technology Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

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

NAB 2017: Next Gen TV is Coming!

While at the National Association of Broadcasters Show (NAB) we saw all types of technologies one could imagine. One of the largest booths there was the NextGen TV Hub booth. NextGen TV explained the future of TV; how streaming and broadcast TV would be become one. This was the answer our group had been looking for! Broadcast TV was not afraid of competing with streaming because of new legislation being brought forward by the FCC that will allow TV stations to broadcast using the ATSC 3.0 format, a newer version of the digital transmission format used today.

Next Gen TVThis was better explained at the session tittled “DTV: The Next Generation.” Here, we sat down and listened to companies who will be assisting with this new merger between streaming and broadcast television. They discussed the positive effects that are to come with the merger and what they hope to see with the new creation coming to the world of television. So with the blending between the two digital platforms, the future looks bright for TV and streaming as they become one. Watch our video on Next Gen TV from the NAB Show for more details!

NAB Pre-Report: The Future of Virtual Reality

As virtual reality becomes more accessible to consumers we are beginning to see the true potential of this new method of media consumption. From short films to video games, Virtual Reality is the next step in media technology. However, many people have also raised questions and concerns in regards to the distribution of the content being produced. Some of the major problems with the distribution of VR content include: bandwidth needed for VR content and the transcoding of said content. At the 2017 NAB Show we plan to discover what these problems are and what some companies are doing to combat these issues.

Virtual RealityNot only does virtual reality provide impressive 360 visuals, but it also provides new environments for storytelling. We are interested on how these industry professionals plan on using these new territories. With the freedom of completely new realities, stories will begin to incorporate new elements into pre-existing mediums that we haven’t been able to capture before.

Currently smartphones dominate the VR industry, however, due to thermal issues on some headsets, most overheat after about half an hour. For widespread consumer use, these headsets need to be optimized for frequent and maintained use.

Virtual RealityNew technology often fascinates people who are inclined to pay attention to the ever-changing industry, but what about the general public? Sure there are Google cardboard headsets, but are people going to accept this new media as a popular attraction? We are heading to NAB with the intentions of securing a more substantial answer about where this media can take us in the future.

With virtual reality making waves and stealing the show at the NAB show last year, we look forward to seeing where VR finds itself in the Industry moving forward as the tools needed become more accessible to consumers and content creators alike. With glaring issues such as vertigo and nausea plaguing much of the early releases of VR now being addressed and ensuring far more practical usage, the content coming from the session planned at the 2017 NAB show hold much more potential for the future of VR.

Though virtual reality has much at stake with their progress we will be seeing at the 2017 NAB show this year, there lies much potential for augmented reality to have a chance to make waves as one of the most interesting pieces of emerging technology at the show this year in much of the same way VR did last year.

On last week’s episode of No Film School’s podcast, they announced a secret project that VR specialist 360 Designs has been working on; a 6k livestreaming VR drone. Sounds crazy right? That’s because it is. This drone is able to be operated by a single person and has the ability to send wireless signals over five miles. This is something we are excited to witness as it paves another milestone in video production!

Josh Berendes, Marielle Gonzalez-Gaiser, Tom Randolph & Kyle Stoutenberg

NAB Pre-Report: TV Steps Into The Future with a New Standard

Another year, another NAB Show. As UNI Digital Media students prepare for this year’s National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, there are a variety of trends and topics to see and experience. An interest of this year’s showgoers was how TV technology is changing to create better content, and one of the biggest things on display at the 2017 NAB Show for TV is the next generation of TV, dubbed ATSC 3.0.

TV

This new generation of technology creates a lot of new possibilities when it comes to the broadcasting of TV. With higher quality screens becoming more popular, broadcasts will now be able to handle 4K Ultra HD when the ATSC 3.0 standard goes into effect. High Dynamic Range (HDR) footage will also be able to be fully utilized thanks to this new standard.

This new ATSC 3.0 standard will be highlighted at the 2017 NAB Show this year in the NextGen TV Hub. This hub will showcase all of the benefits of the new ATSC 3.0 standard and will also be showing off a local broadcast from KLSV-LD utilizing this new technology. LG has gotten in on the ground floor of this technology and will be airing the ATSC 3.0 broadcast on TV’s that support the new standard. The technology will soon be included in all new TV’s, in preparation for 4K and HDR screens becoming mainstream. This new technology will also be utilized during the broadcast of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games from South Korea.

Other TV markets have been testing this new broadcast technology in places like North Carolina, Washington DC, Portland and Madison, Wisconsin. The FCC is allowing stations to begin using this new standard on voluntary basis, as well as issuing experimental licenses for those who wish to test out ATSC 3.0.

This new standard isn’t limited to the broadcast and TV industries, however. There is a strong possibility that the mobile, automotive and home technology industries will also take advantage of this new standard, as content is being viewed on more than just TV’s today. ATSC 3.0 and its automotive uses will be highlighted at this year’s show, as well as other industries, at the ATSC 3.0 Pavilion.

-Mitch Diamond, Chris Dummer, Taylor Peterson

NAB Pre-Report: Mobile Video Takeover

A group of UNI Digital Media students are heading out to Las Vegas for the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show! This is an exciting time to explore the latest and greatest in the fast-paced media industry, and the proliferation of Mobile Video is one of the topics we will be researching.

Technology is changing almost as fast as consumer preference for how to use the changing technology. The world of mobile devices is no exception. The concepts of second screening, mobile video advertising, and mobile streaming are all current trends in the mobile media industry.

Mobile Video TakeoverAs you may know, “second screening” is about using a second screen (mobile device) while watching television. The concept has expanded to include out-of-home advertisements that link to mobile devices for further engagement. For more information on this topic click here.

Mobile Video is on the rise and competing with traditional television viewing. Watching mobile video commands our full attention unlike TV where we often multi-task and watch at the same time.

Research has shown that consumers don’t want to read about a product, they want to watch a video before deciding on a purchase. As a result, mobile video advertising spending is on the rise.

One company is already ahead of the game when it comes to advertising on mobile devices. LoopMe is a UK-based startup, “with a mobile video programmatic platform that taps Artificial Intelligence and ‘deep personalization’ to deliver ads that are ‘laser targeted’ to individual users.” It will be interesting to see if other companies follow suit and advertising becomes even more targeted than it already is.

Mobile Video Takeover

Finally, consumers prefer to stream videos and movies on their mobile devices instead of their personal computers. An obvious reason for this shift is due to the fact that mobile screens are the screens of convenience for many consumers. While at the NAB Show, we will be exploring how these devices are used—some research shows that many consumers watch mobile content at home, and not on-the-go as the technology allows.

At the NAB Show we plan to interview mobile video companies and visit the various mobile streaming booths, but we also will talk with cable providers to gather their opinions on the matter. Will they agree that mobile is rising, and traditional is on the way out, or will they laugh in the face of a challenger? We’ll have a report after we return from the Show!

Zildjean Bartels, Piper Davis, Olivia Guns & Madison Steffen

 

Do Androids Dream of Wired Headphones?

Close your eyes and think about what the world might look like in fifty years. You might imagine a city with a Neo-Shanghai aesthetic, decorated with neon, and dominated by the omnipresent skyline of 2067. Our grandchildren carry the natural evolution of our comparatively primitive smartphones…ones that appear to be nothing more than a slab of translucent glass, penetrated only by the sights and sounds that pass through.

headphonesThis image reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad years ago while driving through the oldest district of my hometown. He commented on how all the buildings had been around for almost 150 years, and have never changed, and how science fiction always depicts the world, our world, as being so drastically different just fifty years into the future. What he said rings true. The world doesn’t change overnight into the neo-noir, rain drenched streets of Blade Runner, these things take time. Many of the buildings that towered over men riding on horseback will be standing long after the last autonomous cars have rusted into dust.

One might not think a headphone jack is worth all the strained metaphors and recollections of patriarchal wonderings that have been splayed out in the paragraphs above, but I would argue to the contrary. To get to that brilliant future of wireless convenience, we have to progress through the awkward adolescence of headphone dongles, shoddy bluetooth connections, and the unnecessary duality of charging versus listening to music.

In the following paragraphs, I’ll present four major points to support the eventual adoption of a wireless standard, and hopefully convince you that Apple leaving the headphone jack out of the iPhone 7 will come to be known as a move just as bold and visionary as anything they’ve ever done.

A History of Defining The Future: Apple has a strong history of ditching existing hardware standards, and moving on to technologies that they perceive to be in their springs. Examples include but are not limited to: optical disk drives, the 8-inch floppy, the 3.5-inch floppy, serial ports, wired gigabit ethernet, low DPI displays on mobile devices, Adobe Flash as a basic internet standard, and now wired headphones.

headphones airpodsThese decisions aren’t made to leave invested users in the dust, they are made so that future products can be relevant and useful for as long as possible before the next standard is created. Apple has been around for 40 innovative years so they might have something insightful to say about where things are headed.

The eventual endpoint of all this is that everything can connect wirelessly. Apple is helping everyone get there by eliminating all these standards and just forcing everyone to go wireless.

Size Matters: The headphones jack as we know it is in a static analog connector. It actually can’t get any smaller because the male end of the connector going into the device has to be a certain size. In an age of impossibly thin and light smart devices, the space inside the phone is at a premium, and everything in there is fighting for space. we all want things like larger batteries, better processors, better cameras, vibration motors, haptic feedback engines and stereo speaker systems in our phones, but it’s all fighting for space and at some point something has got to give.

It doesn’t make any sense to leave in a connector that only serves one purpose, and it can’t be changed to something smaller. It also impedes the ability to design water-resistant phones, what more and more users are clamoring for.

headphones airpodsCuration: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for faster horses”, said Henry Ford, the great innovator and world changer of the 20th century.

Part of Apple’s success stems from their product philosophy leaning toward all-in-one designs with few moving parts, elegant form factors, and every faucet of the user experience thought out from beginning to end. The hardware, software, and services you find on these devices are all controlled by a singular vision of the future.

Part of what you are paying a premium price for is the expertise of Apple’s designers, and for their curation in knowing what makes a great product and what doesn’t. They have decided that in their vision of the future, the headphone jack is not a part of that. Some will have faith that Apple will be correct, as they have been for forty years, and some nonbelievers will leap off the bandwagon.

headphonesThe Future: How can you look at the picture above, and not immediately think, “Wow, okay that’s clearly how headphones are going to work in the future”. It’s the most minimal expression of that singular idea. Just a piece of technology dangling from your ear that automatically connects to the device you want to be using it on. It’s effortless, well thought out and insanely cool.

How many times have you had to untangle a long headphone cord, or gotten it caught on something and had the earbuds ripped from your ears. There’s a better way…and Apple is making that happen one small step at a time.

It will begin with us kicking and screaming into the future, but we will get there sooner than any of us realize. One day soon, an Android fanboy is going to wake up, put in his wireless headphones of choice, and walk out the door while reading an article called, “7 Reasons Apple didn’t really invent wireless earbuds.” He will smile smugly, as he makes his way to his job at a GameStop.

Sam Strajack

 

Cameras for Video: Wrong on Purpose?

Since photography became popular in the mid 1950’s, two major brands, Canon and Nikon, have held the top spots in the consumer camera market. But with the start of the new millennium, many users want more from their digital camera, including video capability. Within the last 5-7 years, more companies have gotten into the camera game and excelled at video. Canon and Nikon, along with Sony and Panasonic, have released cameras where video and photo abilities are of equal importance. Let’s see who is winning the video race as of Fall 2016 and what may come in the near future.

camerasCanon, Nikon, Panasonic and Sony all make great cameras for video, Canon’s top contenders are the newly released 5D Mark IV and 1Dx Mark II. Nikon has its D5 and D500 and Panasonic’s top cameras for video are its GH4 and G7. Sony’s top cameras for video are the A7s II, the A7r II and the A6300. These cameras have different sensors, both in size and megapixels, different bodies and features, and different lens compatibility, all of which make them good contenders for top quality cameras for video in 2016.

Each of these cameras have different features and specs that put them in different spots in the market. Canon’s two cameras have 4K video recording, Canon’s Dual Pixel Auto Focus. Audio in and out, as well as the ability to external record video, but only at 1080p. Externally recording video has its benefits, which can be seen here.

Nikon has similar features, but with some key differences. You still get 4K and audio in and outs, but the autofocus in video movie is not as developed. You also get to externally record, but at full 4K resolution, which is a plus.

Panasonic also retains similar features seen in both Canon and Nikon. You still get 4K video, audio in and out, and the ability to record externally in 4K, but there are some extra features as well. You get things like Zebra stripes, slow motion video and picture profiles. Video professionals insist on having these features in their cameras, so Panasonic did the right thing in including them.

Sony, the final manufacturer making moves in camera for video also includes many features for video in the above mentioned cameras. 4K video, autofocus in video mode, picture profiles, audio in and out, external recording in 4K and slow motion. A comparison with some of the cameras mentioned earlier in this article can be found here

There is more that sets these cameras apart however. Canon, Nikon and Panasonic all have a flaw that can prove fatal for those looking to buy an awesome camera for photo and video. All three of these manufacturers crop the video in order to record 4K content.

cameras  cameras

Sony is the only manufacturer to execute 4K recording properly, without the need for cropping. So it begs the question. If it is possible, why isn’t everyone doing it? A possible answer to this could be that these manufacturers do not think their consumers care enough for it. Another reason could be that the issue can be worked around, therefore it is OK that the crop is present. This article looks at the reasoning from a technical perspective.

If I were to pick a camera to user personally, it would more than likely be a Sony. The A6300 and the A7s II are my favorite. They both do everything I look for in a camera for video. There are many other aspects besides technical specs that go into the purchase of equipment. It will be interesting to see if these shortcomings will be enough to get video professionals to switch brands.

Chris Dummer