Day three at 2014 NAB Show in Las Vegas, Nev., and finally there is at least a 30-minute break to jot down a few words and share thoughts on all the fun we’ve been having. I was speaking with a colleague in our booth today who is a 20-plus year veteran attendee of the NAB Show. He has been through the ups and downs of the industry and the show. But, he said that this year, he feels an energy that he has not felt in quite some time. The aisles were full, the visitors coming to the booth were energetic and better yet, most of them were potential customers J. These days we hear a lot in the news about economic trends while the financial world confirms that “things” are improving – at least for me, the NAB show has proven a bellwether.
I can also call myself a “veteran,” given my first year at NAB was 1998. So I appreciated my colleague’s sentiment and could also relate myself. Almost everyone coming to the DDN booth (#SL8016) seemed to have a good vibe about their business and about the future of media and entertainment industry. Most people were talking about the current buzz around 4K production and broadcast timelines.
Don’t get me wrong, the adoption of 4K is great for a storage business like DDN – especially with the growing demand for Tier 1 storage and archiving. But as the week wears on, I find myself wondering if 4K will be the next 3D? I hear of all kinds of people working at this high resolution (four times more pixels than the now-common HD format), and certainly see that the cameras are becoming common place with many of the 4K available even at the “pro-sumer” grade.
My question is: “Is 4K all hype or is it real?” In my opinion, there are some missing links. For example, there can be technical issues around the transport medium and related bandwidth, which start “breaking down” beyond 2560×1600. Distributing and managing 4K uncompressed video in a network situation is still hard. You can’t move 4K video around in your workflow in the same way you do HD. Along with the challenges of moving 4K content around, the lack of native 4K video content and investment costs are a major issues, especially for companies that have made prior investments in HD or 3D technology. And finally, there’s the practical consumer side of things. Where will people watch this level of digital video? Will they have to buy new TV sets? Some of us are just starting to adopt HD. How will it get to your home? What will the actual resolution be? Is it worth the investment?
Despite these questions, I do think 4K will emerge much more quickly than the industry realizes. As a parent, I’m seeing 4K being embraced by the mobile and social media crowd. Although my kids aren’t old enough yet to get their hands on those new GoPro cameras, for example, they are the YouTube Generation who is already producing and editing 4K video content. In the consumer world, the cost entry for production is low. This is going to eventually catch up to the corporate world.
Turning this back to DDN, as far as the storage world we live in goes, with 4K as the possible new standard for video resolution, petabyte appears to have become the new standard for storage size conversations, and this is really exciting for us. All of this data needs to be stored, archived and distributed globally for collaboration between remote teams to shorten time-to-market, improve resource utilization, and free-up overcrowded Tier 1 storage. To optimize return on IT investment, end users are focused on driving collaboration between teams and across cities and countries around the world in order to increase efficiency and use of time and resources.
In addition to the whole 4K discussion, there’s a lot more that folks are talking about at NAB – especially about active archives as a way to relieve Tier 1 storage, and I did hear an interesting term from one of our partners around “extremely active archives” (look for more on that topic to come). It sounds like DDN’S WOS – ASG ADA integrated archival platform with collaboration and global data distribution capabilities that we were demonstrating with our customer, Deluxe Entertainment, turned out to be exactly what the market is asking for! It is great to have someone come up to the booth and be able to present almost to a tee the solution they are looking for. In my time at NAB across a variety of companies, this has happened less than I would like to admit.
What are your thoughts on 4K? Is it simply the next logical step for an industry constantly seeking more resolution? How is 4K going to affect your storage needs?