As professional broadcasters opt more often for PC technology in place of high-priced specialty equipment, computer vendors are vying for their attention this week at the annual National Association of Broadcasters exposition in Las Vegas.
Among the announcements of new broadcasting products and services:
--MCI unveiled a new service called MCI HyperMedia designed to deliver multimedia applications over the company's high-bandwidth network. The service will support a variety of applications, including digital video distribution, database applications, on-demand corporate training, and telemedicine. Microsoft and NBC are the first to test HyperMedia, launching a system for delivering video to television network affiliates via the network. The new system is expected to improve video-on-demand service for 20 NBC affiliates, which now have to schedule delivery of news and promotional clips via satellite well in advance of broadcast. NBC and Microsoft will jointly engineer the trial, which will also combine technology from Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Fore Systems, and Cisco Systems.
--Sun Microsystems Computer Corporation and Minerva Systems announced an integrated solution for delivering interactive video applications over corporate intranets. The solution will combine the Sun MediaCenter video server and Minerva Publisher MPEG encoding system so that corporations can develop and deploy video applications using a single package.
--Hewlett-Packard teamed with Avid Technologies to develop an open version of Avid's AirPlay video-playback software for HP's video hardware server. The AirPlay software will be able to control digital transfer of video from Avid's Media Composer nonlinear editing system to the HP MediaStream broadcast server. The solution will begin shipping late this year.
--Digital Generation Systems announced the DG Advantage Audio Communications Server, which allows radio stations to view audio inventory and traffic instructions as well as access audio files through Web browsers over an intranet. The company has partnered with Netscape Communications to provide a complete software solution for radio broadcasters.
--Microsoft's Softimage subsidiary today previewed the next version of Softimage Eddie, its video compositing, editing, and processing tool. The new version of the application, which runs on Silicon Graphics' Irix operating system, includes interface improvements, motion tracking and stabilizing technology, enhanced paint capabilities and effects, and integration with Softimage 3D, the company's 3D software development kit.
--Microsoft and Play will unveil a high-end video production system for Windows NT on Monday at the National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas. The two companies will jointly market a package that includes Microsoft's Softimage Digital Studio video editing environment and Play's Trinity desktop video hardware. By joining forces, the two companies say they plan to bring broadcast quality to desktop PCs for a fifth of the price of dedicated systems. The new system will include professional audio editing, 2D and 3D paint capabilities, special effects, compositing, titling, and project management tools. Pricing for the system, which will be available in the fall, has not been determined.
--IBM announced IBM Video Services, a network-based video transmission service that gives PC users access to video on demand from their desktops. The service will use ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) technology to distribute video through the IBM Global Network to users. IBM Video Services will be available commercially later this year, with a rollout in 41 U.S. cities by 1997 and 18 international cities by 1998.
--High-end graphics software vendor Alias|Wavefront launched WebAnimator, an advanced graphics-creation program that includes virtual reality modeling language (VRML) capabilities. The package also comes with general 3D modeling, animation, and rendering tools. WebAnimator, priced at $6,495, is available now for the Irix version of Unix used on Silicon Graphics systems.
The NAB exposition is one of the premier events for broadcasting technology professionals. Portions of the conference will be broadcast on the Internet.