Every year, tens of thousands head to Las Vegas, for what can be described as Disney, for those in the broadcast world.
While the show is primarily centered around gear, there are plenty of educational opportunities throughout the week.
NAB itself takes every bit of four days of the exhibit floor, through Thursday, April 11, to walk, if you are on the lookout for hidden gems.
Here are 10 standout products at the show this year, from my checking out the exhibit floor for the first day-plus, in no particular order.
1. ENCO enCaption
More churches should be looking at including captioning of services, for those within our congregations that have difficulty with hearing. ENCO has designed a small box, called enCaption, that can take in audio/video, and process it with much higher accuracy, than services that are using an off-the-shelf speech-to-text engine.
Understanding that you may be using this device just once a week, they have special packages for churches. As ADA requirements start to include livestreams, this is a great way to include others in your church that may otherwise feel left out.
The system can produce an SRT file to upload later, even if your service is only recorded and not streamed. For more information, reach out to Bill Bennett, Media Services Account Manager. www.enco.com.
Graphics can sometimes be difficult and expensive. Many churches are using the power of OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) and vMix Basic, to effectively stream their services.
We found Holographics in the innovation section on the floor, which is my favorite area. NAB has lots of hidden gems, a result of people that are changing the industry with an idea.
With Holographics, you can use an internet browser to send a basic graphics package to OBS and vMix. What I like is that you can fire the graphics off with an Elgato Streamdeck, and they have a free package available for churches that only need to show one graphic at a time, which is probably the bulk of you reading this. More information can be found online at www.hologfx.io.
3. PTZOptics Wireless Cable
Getting permission to run cables in a church can sometimes be difficult, and a new product from PTZOptics, is set to help keep your trustees calm.
Think of the Wireless Cable as a bridge between devices using a LAN connection. The simplicity of the system is the reason it made this list, as it powers the hubs, and they connect giving you the ability to add up to four cameras. This PTZOptics product lights up the area in 360 degrees of coverage, unlike traditional point-to-point bridges, that require line of sight for a connection.
For mobile churches, this could be a simple solution for setup and teardown, giving you PTZ control of your cameras, along with up to a 300Mbps transmission with a range of 400 meters.
For more information, visit PTZOptics online at www.ptzoptics.com, or check out their social media channel. The crew also moderates a Facebook group called, Churches That Live Stream, which has more than 1,200 followers.
4. Rode Podcast Studio
Podcasting is another way to reach people searching for your content. It can be as simple as stripping the audio from your Sunday service, and uploading.
Why not expand beyond that, though?
Rode introduced the R0DECaster Pro, which takes podcasting and made it so easy, that anyone can do it. The mixing console is intuitive, compact, and feature packed.
Paired with their new PodMic, you can host shows in your office or remote in callers through the three external input options. It pairs with your phone via Bluetooth or cable, and you can connect your laptop.
The audio from the PodMic can be sent to a computer and with the latest firmware update, features 14 track multi-track recording. It features voice processors, to give that podcast sound, auto mix minus to reduce looping of audio, the ability to play intro/outro music or jingle, as well as any number of special sound effects like applause, clapping, and drum roll. Visit www.rode.com, to learn more.
5. Shure TwinPlex
Selecting a microphone for your pastor can be a challenge, and Shure’s newest subminiature microphone looks to take much of the stress out of that search.
We have all faced finding the lavalier mic, twisted around the body pack, leading to cable breakage and premature replacement. Shure has been developing this mic for seven years and is using a new cable that features dual redundant grounding that is immune to kinks and memory effect.
When it comes to struggling for placement on articles of clothing, it becomes less of a worry for this microphone in it using a dual-diaphragm design. It means that turning your head no longer leads to audio drop off. They have a full flavor of colors and options for traditional placement or headsets. To see the difference, visit Shure online at www.shure.com/twinplex.
6. AIDA HD-100
Churches that are already running one or two cameras, may find themselves wanting to increase the production with cost effective point of view shots, like a keyboard closeup or a close shot of the drummer. While AIDA already is already producing an Ultra HD version of a point of view camera camera, if you’re looking for a more entry-level version, AIDA imaging will be releasing an HD point of view box camera for $295 in July, that should meet all of your needs while taking away the latency found when you try and deploy a camera like a GoPro.
With various broadcast resolution and frame rates, you have ability to use the HD-100 in existing systems, that do not have integrated scalers. The lenses are replaceable with any CS mount, allowing you to purchase lower cost lenses, suitable for any placement.
The size of this AIDA camera is compact, less than the dimensions of your credit card, and weighs nearly nothing, allowing you to place it just about anywhere with a number of mounting options. Information on the HD-100 will soon be available online at www.aidaimaging.com
7. Panasonic CX-350
Panasonic recently announced their new 4K camera, featuring what is to be one of the trending topics at NAB: NDI.
If you have not heard of NDI yet, or how it can be used in your church, then open a new tab in your browser now, do a quick Google search and begin to dream.
This Panasonic camera lists for $3,495 and the NDI upgrade runs an additional $295.
Having used the camera at the show, the image quality is amazing.
The layout of the controls of the CX-350 and I/O ports means that it is ready to deploy in just about any setting. This is not the first Panasonic camera with NDI, as it has been part of the company’s PTZ camera line since last year. This is their first camcorder using the protocol that is quickly becoming popular.
8. Switchblade ArcLyte
Portable churches often struggle having a compact system for video production, even using a traditional laptop system that requires external boxes for the video and capture cards.
Switchblade Systems just announced a new custom laptop that incorporates an i7, 1060 graphics card, with the kicker being two SDI connections for your cameras.
The laptop size is similar to any 15-inch Windows-based machine. This is what sets the computer apart from buying a gaming laptop that oftentimes requires dual power adapters and can weigh as much as a desktop.
This computer already comes packaged with a vMix license, graphics program, and enough inputs and outputs to keep anyone happy with both HDMI and DisplayPort out, to drive other monitors and screens. The list price for this computer is $2,995, and you can see each of the innovative software driven switchers at www.switchbladesystems.com.
9. NDI 4.0
The buzz Sunday night, before the opening of the NAB exhibit floor, was from NewTek and Vizrt, and the newest version of NDI. While not technically a product, but rather a protocol, NDI is being adopted by an increasing number of major players, like Panasonic, Sony, PTZOptics, and even Atomos in their monitor line.
In the short time that it has been in existence, it has made the top 10 among protocols, because of just how prevalent it has become in productions and the likelihood that even more companies will jump on board later this year.
With the latest update to 4.0, speed will increase by 45 percent, which means that you no longer need to employ IT staff, just to run NDI on your network. While many end users never notice the compression that happens with any video protocol, NDI will now feature 16-bit color.
Some of the other benefits of the recent update include the ability to record multiple channels or individual cameras, with near zero CPU demand. NewTek has a dedicated site www.ndicentral.com for those interested to learn about the protocol, and you can view more about NDI at www.newtek.com.
10. PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filters
Polar Pro worked directly with filmmaker Peter McKinnon, to develop a variable Neutral Density filter for your DSLR, unlike many others.
Many churches are telling stories outside of the four walls, which puts them suddenly on location, run and gun style, creating sermon intros or even outdoor baptisms.
One of my biggest pains of using variable ND filters has always been the inconsistent level of ND across the lens. What typically would happen is the X patterns where different parts are darker or lighter. This cross-polarization has been solved, using two fused quartz glass elements.
Where traditional variable ND never indicated stops, but rather a series of dots, their version has laser etched marks to tell you where you are at. The build quality is as solid as I have ever come across, and they offer two choices, 2-5 stop and 6-9 stop, for those of you shooting in Florida or wide-open apertures.
The sizes of the filters range from 67mm to 82mm, allowing it to fit on a large number of lenses. For those interested in purchasing a set of these filters, there is a current wait of until next month for the next round of shipments. Visit www.polarpro.com for more specs.