Super Session: Digital Technology Is Path to Prosperity

Correspondent Carl Lindemann reports on Monday’s NAB Super Session

“CNN, ESPN and Adobe Discuss Broadcasting’s New Realities” explored how technology offers a way forward to prosperity in the digital domain despite doubts.

“There’s a lot of gloom-and-doom predictions in our industry about moving assets online,” said John Loiacono, SVP/GM of Adobe’s Creative Solutions Business Unit. “As people move from analog to digital, they find they’re changing dollars for dimes. We’ve heard the predictions about, when the new medium appears, it is the doom of the previous medium. We saw this from photography to painting, radio from newspapers, and TV from radio. Now it looks like the Internet will do this to all mediums. But we believe this is an opportunity, that the naysayers are wrong.”

Loiacono’s optimism was buoyed by a look at how his company’s technology is transforming CNN and helping set the new direction for ESPN3.

At CNN, the promise of end-to-end file-based workflow is about to become reality. The aging fleet of tape decks is soon to be replaced to create a totally tapeless environment. Michael Koetter, VP of news technology planning and development for CNN, provided an overview of the mammoth undertaking ahead. The trick, he said, is not just going tapeless but leveraging the full possibilities this affords.

“This is a big challenge, given the global nature of our business,” he said. “We’re changing workflows and behaviors. [Sony’s] XDCAM is easy to use like tape in a pinch. But we have to move forward and institute workflows so the discs don’t end stacked up like tapes when they should be in a digital library instead.”

The opportunity comes from new possibilities for leveraging CNN’s content. “By making CNN’s pool available to anyone, anytime we can constantly expand our business,” Koetter said. “We build more value expanding to other platforms.”

At ESPN, the relaunch of ESPN 360, renamed ESPN3, shows the fast evolution of “new media” into just media.

“Now we follow the same naming conventions as our other networks to reinforce the reality that we are a TV network delivered over the Internet,” said Damon Phillips, VP of

He demonstrated ESPN3’s new Flash-based player and explained the philosophy behind this choice of technology. “We listened to our viewers, and they want [an online experience] that is easy, simple, and just like TV. They want to watch it right away, so it has to load fast.”

The session closed with a demonstration of some of the latest enhancements found in Adobe’s newly released Creative Suite 5. One standout was the “Rotobrush” tool, which enables effortless rotoscoping.

“It’s the power of 64-bit processing,” Loiacono pointed out. “Things that took days now take hours.”

Loiacono closed with a demonstration of the new package’s capabilities to transform a tornado-torn landscape into a sunny day. Whether such digital magic can transform the emerging digital-media business remains to be seen.

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