The Race is On
Issue: Volume: 29 Issue: 5 (May 2006)

The Race is On

Editor's Note
Karen Moltenbrey
Chief Editor
It’s a safe assumption that a number of NAB attendees and exhibitors, in town for the show, lost a dollar or two at the Las Vegas gaming tables. After all, the odds favor the house. But, there were many NAB vendors that made what can be considered a safe bet: products supporting HD.

For the past few years, the trade floor has been abuzz with software and hardware vendors pitching their so-called HD products. Some companies actually came out of the gate early, and at full gallop, with high-definition offerings and support, while others trotted gingerly around the track with tools to handle “pseudo HD.” And there were those that decided to ignore the sound of the starter’s pistol and wait for wider HD adoption. However, after this year’s conference, there should be no doubt that the HD race is on, and that it is in full swing.
Among those companies that are well into their first few laps are the founding members of Adobe’s OpenHD initiative, created by industry leaders to deliver integrated, certified Windows-based HD solutions that make the move from SD to HD easier and more affordable. Last April, the alliance started with Dell, HP, Intel, and Microsoft, and has since expanded to include 10 additional partners within the digital media segment—AJA, AMD, Blackmagic, Bluefi sh, CineForm, Focusrite, Ciprico, Matrox, Nvidia, and Rorke Data. The result is the creation of new turnkey solutions supporting HD, from HDV to real-time compressed and uncompressed HD. Moreover, “A-list” companies Apple, Avid, and Autodesk, as well as others, have been gearing up for HD for quite some time and have the supported hardware (and software) to show for their efforts. For example, Apple—the first to support native uncompressed editing not long ago—now, with its move to PCI Express on a bus architecture, supports three streams of uncompressed 8-bit HD in real time.
“The bit has flipped across all segments of the industry concerning HD. People are acquiring and editing HD content, and our customers are adopting HD at a rapid pace,” says Kirk Paulsen, senior director of professional applications product marketing at Apple. “Today, essentially anyone involved in post production should be able to turn to their client when asked if they are HD-ready and reply, ‘Yes, we are ready to take on your HD project now,’ and not, ‘We are thinking about it and will get back to you.’ Otherwise, they will live with the fear that their clients will go to another facility that is equipped for HD.” Another issue of concern for those content creators sitting idle in the saddle: the longevity and usefulness of their material and archives five to 10 years from now. “There is no sense in continuing to shoot in SD if you cannot re purpose those assets in the future,” Paulsen adds.
As Dana Ruzicka, vice president of Post Solutions at Avid, points out, the format has really caught on during the past year, and providing a big surge was the Torino Winter Olympics, with the second wave coming this summer during the World Cup. But HD is not just for special events; this fall, expect to see a greater number of HD prime-time TV shows not only on the major networks, but rather across the entire channel dial. For many, the high-def track appears somewhat confusing, with many different HD breeds available. For the time being, though, it doesn’t appear that a specific flavor is necessary, since most equipment vendors are supporting them all. What is important is that companies as well as end users enter the race—or risk being put out to pasture.