LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Walking on the National Association of Broadcasters conference floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center, one would be forgiven if the conference floor was mistaken for the set of a big-budget Marvel movie or the next Star Wars Disney+ series.
Instead, the hottest concepts in content creation technology were on display in 2023’s edition of the NAB show, which represents the 100th iteration of the gathering of the greatest in broadcast and media technology.
If there was a theme to the conference in 2023, it might as well be ‘escalation.’ Independent content production is not a new concept, but the images that can be created and the methods creators can utilize to distribute their content to the public are escalating.
One massive name in the escalation of content creation is DJI. The company is largely responsible for the creation and accessibility of unmanned aerial vehicles with cameras, referred to as drones. It became clear after a visit to its booth at the conference that the company has a vision to enable independent creators. One such element of its vision is its new DJI Inspire 3, a nearly 9-pound behemoth of a drone that more resembles a sizeable mechanized flying predator with its articulating landing gear than a camera.
Not only is the Inspire 3 a new generation of impressive drone technology, but it has also evolved as a camera. DJI has made it possible for most peripherals used throughout its line of cameras, gimbals, and drones to be used interchangeably across the spectrum of the company’s offerings. That flexibility means that a drone isn’t simply a drone anymore; it’s a capable camera system that allows a cinematographer to purchase one device that can be used in a multitude of ways.
A representative from DJI said the company was intent on creating an ecosystem that would allow one or two people to do the work that in the past would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and occupied a small army of individuals to execute.
One repeated trend pairs motion-controlled cameras and large LED screens instead of green walls to create effects and environments with which on-screen talent can viscerally interact. This combination elicits realism not available in prior productions. The technology jumped into the mainstream with Disney+’s “The Mandalorian.” Called “The Volume,” similar techniques were on display on the NAB showroom floor and would allow for the minimization of intensive post-production crews in a production’s workflow.
It’s not just the cameras and gear that have evolved but also the outlet for makers. Independent content creators haven’t always had distribution methods available to them to have their work seen by the public. However, with the explosion of YouTube as a mainstream content provider, that barrier to entry is all but gone.
According to a report from Oxford Economics, in 2021, $25 billion was contributed to the American economy by YouTube’s creative ecosystem, creating an equivalent of 425,000 full-time jobs. The survey indicates that the content creation boom has proved entertaining and educational, saying that 93% of YouTube users have learned to do new things by watching videos on the platform.
Digital platforms continue to emerge as outlets for creators big and small. With that growth comes the continuing democratization of formerly inaccessible technologies capable of creating shots comparable to the highest-budget feature films with hundred-person crews for a fraction of the price and required personnel. Those technologies held the spotlight at the NAB show and surely brought plenty of excitement to all those who made their way to Las Vegas to see the future of that space.