Here’s a list of what’s new at NAB 2012 and links to articles, product pages, press releases, etc. I will be updating this as often as I can. The 3G here in Vegas is awful.
Wrangler LTO-5 NetDrive
This is an interesting little contraption. 1 Beyond has combined an LTO-5 deck with ethernet connectivity, with a VCR. The NetDrive features DVI and 3D-capable HDMI outputs so you can watch video files on the LTO tape without need for a computer. It also features USB 2, USB 3 and eSATA connections for offloading from hard drives and other media directly to LTO-5. Check out the product page for more features. The NetDrive is part of 1 Beyond’s Wrangler capture-to-archive ecosystem.
Creative Suite 6
After Effects has received what some are calling the biggest updates in a decade. During a keynote with Steve Wozniak, Adobe’s Steve Forde demonstrated what they’re calling the Global Performance Cache. I like to think of it as non-destructive RAM previews. If you create a RAM preview, AE will cache all the layers separately. If you make a change on a certain part of a single layer, you don’t need to re-render the entire comp, even if the layer goes for the entire length of the comp. The existing caches are reused, which greatly speeds up the RAM preview re-render. It was amazing to see. They also partnered up with Steven Wozniak’s company Fusion-IO, which makes the Fusion ioFX, a PCIe SSD board – but that doesn’t really describe what it does. To the OS, it can just be a drive, if you want. But to apps that recognize it, it can be a drive, it can be RAM, it can be whatever. So AE can use the Fusion ioFX for its RAM previews, render scratch, etc, with direct connect PCIe speed! They demonstrated 2 Fusion ioFX cards in RAID-0 running at 1.3GB/s for a RAM preview. Amazing.
On the editing side, the big additions are Prelude for logging and ingesting file-based and metadata workflows, OpenCL support for the (Freddie) Mercury Playback Engine (which means you can use ATI cards on OS X, but they’re still nowhere near as fast as nVidia CUDA cards), Mercury Transport Engine for real-time playback on third party output devices, and a re-designed interface. They also announced a 64bit version of Encore that Adobe says is more stable. Man, I hope so! Netblender’s DoStudio is a great BD authoring app (I used it to create the Art of Flight Blu-Ray, which Joel Silver of the Imaging Science Foundation called an ISF Reference Disc), but I can’t afford to use it for most of my BD projects and it would be great to go back to Encore for the smaller stuff.
And we also got Speedgrade CS6. I got a VERY quick demo of this. Thanks to Colin from Adobe for walking me through it and answering my questions after the NAB show had already ended (and the RED booth started blasting music). It’s not node-based like Resolve, and it doesn’t have rooms like Resolve and Color. It’s more layer-based. It adds controls like Contrast that are relatively foreign on video correction tools and are usually on photo correction tools instead. It also doesn’t include curves, which I was surprised by because I’ve started using curves more and more in Color and Resolve. But it looks like it can deal with raw formats and LUTs without a hitch, so it’s definitely a step up from Color. I can’t wait to give it a spin against Resolve.
Technically, CS6 was just announced and not released. I’m hearing a June release timeframe, but that’s not official. I can’t find any further info on that.
Update: I’m now seeing After Effects CS6 has a ship date of May 7th. Not sure if that’s for all of CS6 or not.
T-Tap – $250
This one is definitely going to win some “Best of NAB” awards from whomever gives awards like that. Thunderbolt to HDMI and HD-SDI – 10bit, up to 2k resolution, 3D and 8 channels of embedded audio. All for only $250.
Ki Pro Quad – 4K/Quad HD/2K/HD Solid State Recorder – $4,000
- 4K/Quad HD/2K/HD Solid State Video Recorder
- Supports 10-bit 4:4:4 and 10-bit 4:2:2
- RAW support
- Debayer and ProRes encode to on-board SSD
- Realtime pass-through of RAW data via Thunderbolt™
- Uncompressed and debayered 4K monitoring output
- Dedicated HD monitoring via SDI and HDMI
- Record to edit-friendly 4K, 2K, or HD ProRes files on removable SSD media
- Offload ProRes files to your non-linear edit system via AJA Thunderbolt™ SSD reader
- Camera outputs 4K RAW over SDI
- Ki Pro Quad accepts 4K RAW over SDI
- Ki Pro Quad performs debayer processing of RAW
- Debayered image is used for on-board compressed recordings to SSD media
- Debayered image is used for 4K monitoring output
- Debayered image is used for scaled/cropped HD monitoring via SDI and HDMI
- RAW signal is passed from camera to Ki Pro Quad and out via Thunderbolt™ to computer/storage
- Further manipulation of RAW is made possible via software tools
- HD, 2K, and 4K compressed recordings made to SSD media may be used directly in popular non-linear editors
Smoke 2013 – $3500
The big news here is Autodesk redesigned Smoke into more of an editor and dropped the price from over $10k to $3500. Imagine combining editing, node-based compositing and effects, stereoscopic 3D conforming and finishing all in one app. And that BARELY scratches the surface of what’s offered here. Check it out.
Blackmagic Cinema Camera – $3k
Apple could learn something from BMD. No one saw this camera coming. I have to admit, first time I saw the camera, I thought “Leica” because of the front record button, and then “Hasselblad”. This thing just looks like an old Hasselblad.
I’ll leave the specs for the linked articles, but basically it’s a 2.5k sensor and records to SSDs in the Cinema DNG format. BMD is including the full version of Resolve and the software version of Ultrascope. All for only $3,000
Is The New Blackmagic Cinema Camera the DSLR Killer? by Marco Solorio of OneRiver Media for Creative Cow Magazine
Teranex Processors – 2D for $2k and 3D for $4k
So this might out me as the biggest geek in the world, but this blew me away. A little over a year ago, a fully loaded Teranex box was $80k-100k. BMD bought Teranex and brought the price for the existing box down to $20k. Even then I was thinking about buying one because of all the conversions I do for my clients projects. But I knew BMD was going to do something with Teranex. So 2 new boxes that look similar to the original. From what I can tell, the 3D features are the only difference between the 2. When I first saw the box in the booth, on its tiny little screen it was playing a Red Bull show that I had worked on at Brain Farm. Brain Farm’s footage was playing in a number of booths this year, which was pretty cool. They had a live demo of the 2D to 3D conversion going on, which was really interesting. On super clean footage, it looked good. But on grainy (film), noisy or compressed footage, the effect totally broke. Since I had color corrected the footage, I knew the sources and it was interesting to see how all the different formats were treated in the conversion. But it makes me fear consumer TVs that are going to have 2D to 3D conversion built in. The compression just from the cable and satellite feeds is totally going to break the effect, no matter how clean the source 2D TV show or movie is. Oh well, getting off topic.
It has Thunderbolt and will work for Ultrascope and will even work as a capture and playback device!
I’m psyched on this and I can’t wait to get one in my lab to test!
Blackmagic took their popular converter line and added built in battery power. Why didn’t anyone else think of this before?
Of course I have to mention the new Cineflex ELITE co-designed with Brain Farm Digital Cinema. Instead of the Sony 1500 HD camera in the original Cineflex V-14, the Cineflex ELITE is based around the ARRI Alexa M and Canon Cinema lenses, which allows for ARRIRAW recording at 12bit Log-C with a Super 35mm sensor. The amazing thing is the Cineflex body itself is still the same size, and the gimbal controls are still the same. Check out the reel on Brain Farm’s website.
CM-170W – $3,295
FSI hit a real sweet spot with this monitor. It’s only 17″, but it has a full native 1920×1200 10-bit display. It’s essentially a mini version of FSI’s flagship reference monitor, the LM-2461W. What I liked about it though, is the panel. It appears to be darker in the blacks than most other LCD-based reference monitors, including the LM-2461W. Especially in harsh lighting conditions. Blacks have been a real challenge for me and my clients during the transition from CRTs to LCDs and other flat displays. At Brain Farm, I’ve been lucky enough to use the Dolby PRM-4200, which can switch between CRT, Plasma and other display modes (and really helps to answer the client’s eventual question – what will this look like on my TV at home?). The CM-170W just looks good and does a great job balancing all these different possible outcomes. At 17″, it would make an excellent on-set grading monitor. FSI also has a Porta Brace-style kit available for it. As much as I like the monitor, I think 17″ is just too small to make critical decisions in a grading suite. I REALLY hope FSI can source a 24″ version of this panel for their flagship monitor. The blacks really are that much better.
Update: FSI has just announced a field pack for the CM-170W
4k Compact Camera
Ok, this is definitely one of those things that I didn’t know about until after I left Vegas. To be honest, I walked right past the JVC booth. I own a JVC VHS VCR, and that pretty much represents the technology level I usually associate with JVC. Somehow, JVC has created a compact camera with a 1/2″ 3840×2160 pixel bayer-pattern sensor, which records 4k at up to 60p onto SD cards in H.264 format. I have no idea how the heck they have done that. It reminds me of JVC’s first HDV camera. They rushed to market with the first compact HD camera and it turned out to be a low-res, low-quality POS for many people. Remember, resolution is not the number of pixels on your sensor. It’s the final image resolution after passing through the lens, sensor, deBayer, compression and playback. I’m really interested in seeing hands-on reviews of this camera, but I’m not holding out much hope.
Other World Computing
Jupiter SAS Storage and SAS-based SAN
I was really excited to see this. Like SANs based on fibre or PCIe (like CalDigit), an SAS SAN will allow workstations to attach to the storage at full bandwidth, not bottlenecked by 1Gb Ethernet or even 10Gb Ethernet. This is a traditional SAN in that it requires a metadata controller and SAN software like Xsan or MetaSAN, unlike the Ethernet-based systems that just use Apple File Protocol (AFP) or SMB. Now that Xsan software is free on Mac OS X Lion, I’m really interested in taking this system for a spin. The speed possibilities are amazing. I could see an SAS SAN for things like render farms, compositing or finishing. Using some quick back of the envelope math, with a 4 workstation setup; the SAS cards, cabling, and SAS switch is under $5k (not including storage). This comes in cheaper than both Fibre and 10Gb Ethernet currently. During NAB, I was approached by quite a few people interested in adding SANs to their production workflow. The majority of these companies were 2-5 person shops with a few towers and laptops. Most of them already had SAS storage and wanted to share that speed with all the workstations. In particular, I spoke with one shop with 3 Macs that each have their own SAS direct attached storage. They want to share all this media between all the stations, but not be bottlenecked by 1Gb Ethernet, and not lose their investment in SAS storage. An SAS-based network could be the answer in this case.
If there’s anything I want in my lab right now, it’s this. I can’t wait.
RED Digital Cinema
REDray and Laser 2D/3D 4k Projector
As many followers of this blog know, I’m of 2 minds with RED. Their equipment has a hell of a lot of potential and a great price point. But their multi-step workflow and fanboyism is a real turnoff for many pros including myself. REDuser.net is one of the worst things I’ve ever tried to navigate and ordering equipment from RED or RED.com is amazingly difficult. That said, I recommend the Scarlet to most people asking me what camera they should look at or buy. It does a lot of things well. Anyway, I avoided their booth for all of the show because of the crowds. They even had their own security staff. Never seen that before. But on the last day, I jumped into the line for the Laser projector for a 3D screening of a short called Loom. Before the screening, they said they were only running at 2k per eye instead of 4k, at 8bit color instead of 10bit, and there were ghosting issues. OK. Other than the ghosting, it looked good. Laser projection has a lot of potential because it’s focus-free and should last a lot longer than the bulbs in a typical digital cinema projector (RED claims 25,000 hours). The black level was really high though. Not sure if that was the screening environment, the screen, or the laser technology. But the RED Laser projector is one to keep an eye on. They’re saying a version will ship this year starting at $10k (!).
RED claims the video was playing off a REDray, which I guess I’ll have to take their word for. That’s a little tongue in cheek. I find it interesting that it’s taken this long for a REDCODE playback device other than a really tricked out computer with RED Rocket cards.
Small Tree Communications
Small Tree has taken the server out of the Network/Server/Storage paradigm of SAN networking. Titanium is both the SAS-based storage, and a Linux server in one box. It can easily scale with more SAS RAIDs (maintaining speed as you scale), and you can add 10GbE and 1GbE network cards in the back. Depending on your installation, you might not even need an ethernet switch with this box.
Small Tree was also demoing a Thunderbolt to 10Gb Ethernet box with a MacBook Pro connected to the Titanium. They’re the only ones right now with a working Thunderbolt to Ethernet driver that won’t crash your computer accidentally. Talking with Steve Modica, CTO of Small Tree, it sounds like this driver wasn’t an easy feat. Along similar lines, they also a Fibre Channel over Ethernet driver that allows speed over 10Gb ethernet that surpasses fibre, and allow devices like the Titanium to be added to existing fibre SANs like Xsan.
PIX 260 Production Video Recorder
The rack-mounted PIX 260 is a file-based video recorder/player that seamlessly replaces tape-based video decks in production and post-production environments. It records either ProResHQ or DNxHD and up to 32 tracks of audio (!). Up to four SATA drives can be connected to the PIX 260 simultaneously. All four drives can be recorded to simultaneously for RAID-1 type redundancy (the Sound Devices field audio recorders can do this too). The PIX 260 includes a built-in Ambient Clockit time code generator/reader with genlock output for multi-camera and double-system sound applications. In addition to generating ultra-stable time code, time code can be read from the SDI stream, the HDMI stream, or from an external source. The PIX 260 has a built-in five-inch 800 x 480 pixel video display that allows users to view video and setup-menu selections. With its extensive control capabilities, the PIX 260 is a flexible video playback source that is compatible with Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X and Avid sessions. Like the PIX 220 and PIX 240, the PIX 260 includes a high-performance hardware scaler and frame rate converter. Regardless of the incoming signal, the PIX recorders can record the signal after up, down, or cross-conversion at the same or different frame rate. Hardware-based 3:2 pull-down removal is included as well.
Leave it to a sound company to add the in-the-field features we need (TC jamming, lots of audio recording options) to create one of the best record decks available.
Element Control Surface – $3500 for all 4 panels
The funny thing is Tangent didn’t even have a booth. But they didn’t need to, this panel was everywhere! At every booth that was showing a grading app, plugin or device. I took an all-day grading workshop with Robbie Carman, Alexis Van Hurkman and Pat Inhofer and they used this panel too. It was smaller than I was expecting, but had a great feel to it. I like that it’s slim, so I can put a keyboard in front of it and it doesn’t feel awkward to switch back and forth. I can’t wait to get this in my color suite!
First Look on Tao of Color by Pat Inhofer
I went to the premiere of TimeScapes on Tuesday at the Palms. It was really a cool experience. I finally got to meet Tom in person and a few of the other guys behind the film. Vincent Laforet introduced the film with”3 years ago Tom had never shot a timelapse”, which really blew many people away, including myself. It reminded me of how quickly our industry is changing and how we all really need to stay on top of it. It also really drove home that you should follow your passions, no matter what they are. Amazing people will congregate around and support someone doing amazing things. About 98% of the credits were dedicated to individuals that helped fund the movie through advance purchases of the DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital Download. It showed both how supportive this community is, and gives a glimpse of where the funding model for independent projects is going.
The After Party on the roof deck of the Palms was pretty sweet too!
Obviously there were many other products released besides these, particularly cameras from Canon and Sony. I’m not going to cover those here as every other production website and blog under the sun has covered them. These are products that I thought were particularly interesting for me (and hopefully you). Personally, I was psyched to see how many Thunderbolt products there were, especially from AJA, BMD and storage vendors like G-Tech, but no one is making a Thunderbolt hub. Strange.
NAB is always awesome, and through the years it’s become clearer to me that it’s more about the people than the products. It was great to meet different producers, both internet-famous and not, and catch up with old friends and make new ones. The classes were great, especially the all-day color correction class with Robbie Carman, Alexis Van Hurkman and Pat Inhofer. The exhibit floor was electric like I hadn’t seen before. Some of the general themes were:
– There’s no such thing as a one-app editor anymore. If you want to be a successful editor, you need to understand and use all these tools. They’re now all so cheap, you have no reason not to.
– Everything is 4K now, except it’s not. BMD really took everyone by surprise with their 2.5K camera. But outside of that, everything really is moving in that direction, but…
– Workflow is everything. Everyone wants to shoot 4K, but if you can’t bring it all the way through your pipeline, and quickly, then it’s a burden. Everything at NAB was about faster, cheaper and better interchangeability between apps, platforms and codecs. It’s cool to see all the new tools available, but they have to work well together and the manufacturers and designers are starting to get this.
This is going to be an interesting year. Until NAB 2013…
Did you go to NAB this year? What did you think of the new products? Did I miss something here that you think I should add? Join the discussion in the comments. I’ll buy you a beer at NAB 2013!