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NAB 2013 Summary

NAB 2013

In the past few days the National Associations of Broadcasters conference, or NAB for short, has been exciting filmmakers around the world with all the worlds biggest kit manufactorers companies like Sony, Canon, BlackMagic and Vision Research get to show off their newest products. There’s been a number of big surprises again this year, lots of products people weren’t expecting at all such as the BlackMagic Cinema Camera really rocked the boat last year and they did it again this year but probably the most exciting bit of kit wasn’t a camera at all…

MoVI

As mentioned in a previous blog this bit of kit caused a bit of a stir when it was announced a couple days before NAB. This cheap steadicam-esque rig impressed all the right people to get attention and in the future it’ll likely be the darling of the indie film/small corporate world. Using multiple gyros to stablise the camera whilst the operator moves about it really ‘frees’ the camera operator to do angles that either weren’t possible before or were way out of budget, as in you’d have to hire a steadicam operator for the day to use his expensive and difficult to use rig which if you’re shooting for multiple days can rack up. However with this MoVI rig it’s apparently extremely easy to just pick up and shoot with minimal fuss and not much time spent on readjusting the weights to get it balanced perfectly which is basically what you need to do with Steadicam rigs. Vincent LaFloret tested it out in a short film on, much like his test videos with the Canon 5D and the Canon C300 when they came out, he’s become the go-to guy if you want new kit demoed in a great and creative way. The making of video has a number of shots that blew a couple of peoples minds, for example the camera op with the MoVI rig roller skating up a street, filming the actors get in a cab, grabbing on to the cab as it drives away then skating down a street. A very clever way to get the shot you never thought you could due to constraints like a small budget. The MoVI was available for demo at NAB with lots of people apparently wanting to get their hands on it, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise really. Watch the videos below to get a better idea of what it’s capable of.

BlackMagic Cinema Cameras

Last year BlackMagic released details of their first camera and people were pretty surprised, not only with the fact that BlackMagic made a camera but also with how good the camera actually was, and how cheap! The little box of tricks could shoot up to 2.5k in multiple recording formats like RAW, ProRes422 and DNxHD and all for under £2000. This at the time was pretty unheard of, until now as they’ve released two new cameras, the Pocket Cinema Camera and the Production Camera 4K. The former came as a bit of a surprise. As you may be able to tell they say it’s small enough to fit in your pocket and its retail price is currently sitting at £665 and boy do you get a lot of bang for your buck. It can record full HD RAW or ProRes and has a micro four thirds mount so you can attach any lens that you’d like onto it. This potentially is a much better deal than much of the low budget DSLRs that Canon, Nikon and Panasonic have out. It’s also got an impressive dynamic range which produces a much nicer image than many would expect for a camera this cheap, the comparison it has with the DSLR shots on the website only prove this point further.

The other camera they have announced is the Production Camera 4K and as you may be able to tell from the name of the camera it can shoot up to 4K resolution in RAW and ProRes and it costs less than £3000, which if you ask us is pretty amazing, it comes with a super 35mm sensor with a global shutter (so no rolling shutter artifacts ever) and a EF mount so a lot of lenses will fit onto it. It records everything onto either 240gb or 480gb SSD drives because, well it needs to as RAW 4K is gonna take a lot of space very quickly.

These two cameras are all well and good but I do think there are a couple of things that need to be addressed first. Despite the first BlackMagic Camera coming out last year barely anyone that has one on pre order has actually got theirs yet. Due to faults with the camera and production errors people have had to wait for a pretty long time but also by releasing this cameras have BlackMagic just made their ‘old’ one irrelevant? Philip Bloomhas a great blog containing lots of information about it and interesting conclusion about how he thinks there are far to many cameras out at the moment. The number of options camera operators have these days has changed dramatically in the last 10 years with cameras coming out every season like mobile phones do and then going out of fashion. Anyone remember the Panasonic AF101? That was raved about for a few months then promptly forgotten and the same thing happened with the Sony FS100 and so on and so forth. It just seems a bit silly for companies to make their own cameras irrelevant.

Adobe Anywhere

Adobes editing software Premiere has been making waves since the demise of Final Cut Pro 7. It managed to entice many editors over with a similar interface to what we’re used to, immense speed, easy connectivity to other Adobe packages and it’s vast number of codecs allowing people to edit footage from almost any camera without transcoding it to ProRes or DNxHD first. The latest feature is the Adobe Anywherefunction which allows multiple editors, colour graders and producers all over the world to work on the same project at the same time. Put the project file in a server and Adobe Anywhere makes it easy for creative to collaborate and speed up the finishing process. If it works it’ll be another step towards the rest of the editing community to pick it up and perhaps even more so in the professional editing world.

Phantom Flex 4k

A bit of a indulgence this one as no production company is really going to have the money to buy one of these (£150,000+) but if you’ve got a job that would really benefit from a couple of great super slow motion shots then the Phantom Flex is basically the go to camera for it and now it’s got a version out that can shoot up to 4k at a massive 1000fps and do 2000fps at 2k. The amount of wizardry thats gone into this camera to make it work like this is pretty mad. Slow motion is an effect that will unlikely ever go out of fashion as it’s to interesting to look at as it’s something the naked eye cant see so to see things like fire (in the demo video below) move at insanely slow speeds its actually pretty beautiful.

Avid Media Composer 7

With all the competition in the NLE space at the moment it’s about Avid made moves to stop its user base disappearing into the arms of Adobe and Apple. The newly announced MC7 comes with a host of new features such as natively supporting bigger than 1080p files which saves a lot of time on transcoding. Background rendering and transcoding is also making an appearance and Avid are finally making more use of the DAW Pro Tools they acquired a few years ago and are adding amazing audio tools into MC7. It also comes with Interplay Sphere which like Adobe Anywhere allows collaborative editing over the internet. Avid has also given it a bit of a price cut so is now £1000, which while still more expensive than its two main competitors its still packed with the same high end editing tools people know and love.

Snell’s ‘Channel in a Box’ ICE

As advances in tapeless work flow continue the Channel in a Box concept which takes video, graphics, audio, automation, newsroom and MAM and integrates it all into one box that not only saves on space and energy it also saves money. If your in broadcast TV it seems a bit of a no brainer to try and get one and now seems like a good idea to get one as Snell are now bringing out their new ICE solution. ICE is hugely cost effective as it combines dozens of products into one machine resulting much less wiring and training time as well as it being less likely that something will go wrong as it also boasts a 99.999% up time. The five nines are approaching hallowed ground when it comes to reliability. The little box is packed with more features than you could probably shake a stick at and costs $30,000 per channel and this box can take up to 100 channels all with the same UX which makes this a bit of a bargain for the broadcast world.

And that was a small list of all the things that really interested us at NAB. Dan Chung and his team over at News Shooter did an incredible job of capturing everything that happened at NAB with over 60 videos packed with great information, if you’re pretty into your gear then it’s well worth looking at.