Category Archives: Technology

Technology Trends & Issues on Modern Media Mix

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

NAB Show 2016 Recap

Ten students from the University of Northern Iowa had the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Expedition to the NAB Show in Las Vegas this spring. They studied everything from post production editing and media distribution to the latest trends in virtual reality. Check out their videos on the UNI Digital Media Leadership YouTube channel and like our Facebook Page for more post-show updates!

NAB Show 2016 Overview

Here is an overview of the NAB Show 2016. This will give you look and the size and scope of the convention and a taste of the fun these students had.

 

Post Production Overview

Check out the latest in post production software and equipment. These students got a firsthand look at the latest products from companies like Black Magic, Adobe, and GoPro.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality was a hot topic this year at the NAB Show. Media producers are experimenting with new ways of storytelling and incorporating VR into new media work flows.

Media Distribution

The world of media distribution is constantly changing and the sources of revenue for content has shifted a lot in the last few years. See how come companies are staying ahead of the curve.

 

Special thanks to the IBA for making this trip possible! We’re looking forward to next year’s trip and planning to bring you more great content straight from the NAB Show floor.

NAB Show 2016 UNI Digital Media Leadership

2016 NAB Show Welcomes Young Professionals

In a large convention center in the magical city of Las Vegas, Nevada, media professionals, CEO’s, managers, owners, innovators, programmers and several high profile players in the media industry gather to meet, speak, and discover new technologies in the media industry. This convention center is the home of the NAB Show. Even though there are a lot of “suits” at the NAB Show, they also allow young professionals and students to come and explore the media industry and meet some of the amazing people who have built this industry to the prestigious level it is at. These young professionals not only have the privilege to learn from such incredible people who have built this industry, but the people who built it have the opportunity to teach the future leaders and innovators of this crazy and extravagant world of the media industry.

Welcome to Las VegasWith unique opportunities to talk with such distinguished media professionals, listen in on valuable information sessions on a wide variety of topics, and attend a career fair allowing us to hand our resume to potential employers in the industry, the NAB Show is, in several ways, catering to young professionals in the media field. Attendees can tour the exhibit floor, decked out with all of the biggest companies’ newest gadgets and equipment. With so much to do, there is never a dull moment, and certainly no moment we would want to miss taking advantage of. As up and coming media professionals, there is no better place for us to gain insight into the industry and the career opportunities available at the NAB Show. Therefore, bring on the exhibits, sessions, and interviews; the UNI Media Leaders are ready to take on LAs Vegas and work some media!

NAB Show Panel

Even though we are small group from UNI, there are still several other young professionals attending the NAB Show. This allows us to compete for the attention of the media professionals in the media industry and shows us the competition we will face when applying for jobs in the future. This also allows us to meet young professionals from around the country and hopefully network with them. It obviously is important to network with the current media professionals but networking with other young media professionals can hopefully lead to future employment or collaboration in the media industry.

As students in the Digital Media Program at UNI, we are looking to take away a wealth of newfound knowledge and firsthand experiences, such as networking with all of the professionals at the show. These opportunities will help us to advance our education and future careers. Real world exposure and experience can deem our resumes more impressive than other candidates competing for the job. After taking advantage of this invaluable opportunity to attend the NAB Show, we will be very competitive in the job market once we graduate, one of the most beneficial aspects of the trip overall. With such an amazing experience and endless opportunities, how could we not be excited for this trip to begin?! Stay connected with us via social media!

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-Ali, Austin, Connor, & Sam

2016 NAB PREVIEW: Very Real Virtual Reality

With the 2016 installment of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show looming on the horizon, filmmakers, photographers, journalists and scores of other media professionals (approximately 100,000 of them) will converge to the Las Vegas Convention Center for five days to discuss and showcase all things media.

One reason in particular why those that are “in-the-know” in the media industry pay close attention to NAB is because it will give them a good idea of what the future of the media landscape will look like. For example, remember when drones came into the public spotlight two years ago? They were the buzz and hum of NAB the year before.

So that begs the question, where will the attention be directed this year? What is the hot new thing?

Two words: Virtual Reality.

While VR isn’t a completely new concept in the media world, the steadily declining price tag and commercial availability of VR software and hardware is. While companies like Samsung and Oculus paved the way for commercially available VR headsets, HTC will quickly be making waves with their recent release of their own VR setup, dubbed the “Vive”. Vive works with your computer and Valve’s online gaming community hub known as Steam to bring endless VR possibilities right into your home.

HTC Virtual RealityAs expected, there will be several sessions at NAB 2016 covering Virtual Reality, ranging from “Establishing Your Brand Presence in Virtual Reality” presented by Selvz to “Being There – Virtual Reality News and Documentaries”. The “Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavilion” will be an entire section of the NAB show floor dedicated to all things VR and its current industry leaders.

My group of NAB’ers consisting of myself, Daniel Hampe and Devin Harschnek are all quite eager to get hands-on with this material. Kaleidoscope, a large online community of VR content creators, will be hosting a Virtual Reality Showcase featuring “…groundbreaking virtual reality films and immersive experiences which hail from North America, Europe, South America and beyond.” Sphericam, a camera company from Dover, DE, will be featuring a 360-degree video camera tailor made for VR that is capable of recording 4k resolution at 60fps. These are only two of the many Virtual Reality exhibits and sessions we will be attending this year at NAB.

Join us on our three-day trip to Las Vegas by following us on Twitter! @ us questions or anything you’d like us to cover during our trip.

@devin24_7

@dj50_cal

@unimedialeader

-Cal Gruening, Devin Harschnek, Daniel Hampe