AI + Cloud
The strongest underlying themes of NAB ‘18 emphasized artificial intelligence and cloud services, with XR in general falling somewhat behind. More content creation tools will benefit from AI and Cloud technology than XR technology over the next 5 years, and XR itself will be affected as well. This is evidenced by sizeable initiatives by major firms such as Google and Microsoft. These larger companies are becoming increasingly interested in enabling users to harness the power of machine learning and powerful offsite computing to improve workflows across a number of verticals, from annotation and metadata population to IoT and mixed reality processing. Creators can look forward to more and more of their most tedious, labor-intensive tasks becoming automated in the future.
The increased availability of lightweight but powerful creative suites and toolkits was a promising sign for developers at this year’s NAB. Top contenders included Google’s much-vaunted AV1 video codec, and new cloud services offered by companies such as Avid and The Foundry, backed by Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud technology, respectively. These tools promise to lower the barriers to entry in high-quality graphical rendering by offloading intense computing tasks to offsite servers. Main competitor Amazon has been conspicuously silent on any plans to engage in similar partnerships or provide comparable services since it’s last major contribution to XR development, Amazon Sumerian, which remains in preview and is expected to launch in May.
Richer, Streamlined Ecosystems
Adobe’s latest updates to its popular video editing workhorses Premiere and After Effects promise to attract still more immersive media creators with a host of AI-powered features such including color correction and audio leveling. In addition, a streamlined 360 video editing interface promises to make editing of immersive video easier and accessible to more users. Adobe has managed to maintain a competitive edge in the VR production field with a strong long-term vision for their data science and research, and strategic acquisitions appealing to early adopters of immersive media, making them a one-stop-shop for creators.
Higher Quality Content
Insta360, known for its range of 360 cameras, announced exciting partnerships with industry leaders, including Adobe, to bring much-anticipated improvements to their video editing software. From an updated “gimbal-killing” stabilization feature, dynamic pixel-level stitching, and a new workflow for Adobe Premiere which promises to cut down on compression loss in the final product, creators are sure to take another look at Insta360 when producing high-quality immersive content for the web, where compression and a lack of costly image stabilization hardware are persistent issues.