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Lessons Learned in the Desert

When the editors of PRO AV, in one of our weekly electronic newsletters, asked readers if they planned to attend last month's NAB Show in Las Vegas, you could have heard a cyber pin drop. That's not surprising actually. But more pro AV firms should consider sending a representative or two each year.

When the editors of Pro AV, in one of our weekly electronic newsletters, asked readers if they planned to attend last month's NAB Show in Las Vegas, you could have heard a cyber pin drop. (Sign up for the free e-newsletters) That's not surprising actually. The annual conference of the National Association of Broadcasters isn't exactly a pro AV show. It attracts TV network executives, engineers, and other specialists from around the world. As you'd expect, attendance was off, but having spent most of a week there, I'd argue that more pro AV firms should consider sending a representative or two each year.

Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes

For one thing, broadcast TV these days is nothing if not a wide-area, high-definition video distribution platform. It represents the cutting edge of what many AV pros are building now, whether for digital signage or videoconferencing. As contributing editor Pete Putman explains this month, end-to-end HD distribution is a unique animal (see "Life in an HD World," page 36), and the companies that enable it, from creation to storage, demonstrate their wares at NAB.

In addition, AV manufacturers, and those that want to sell into the pro AV channel, are also represented. This year Utah Scientific, which sells broadcast-level routers/switchers, used NAB to demo a new line of Utah 100 routers for the pro AV market, where the company is building a dealer network. Azden, which makes wireless microphones, previewed a six-channel, infrared conferencing system that it plans to ship around InfoComm. And Electrosonic, which debuted its ES7100 encoder, was also talking about a new virtual video switching technology. That's right–video distribution without the hardware switches.

Finally, and this came up in more than one conversation, the NAB Show may be where AV pros' biggest competition for future business emerges (if it hasn't already). As Putman put it to me at the show, forget about IT guys taking business, broadcast integrators are in a much better position to do so. They understand video but also handle audio, design, and other fundamentally pro AV issues, having worked in studios, production booths, etc. A broadcast engineer at integration firm TV Magic said he recently worked on a pro AV project because the company was short manpower, and despite a slight learning curve, he delivered what the client wanted.

How far has broadcast and pro AV convergence come? Future NAB Shows may tell the story.



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