2014 NAB Show Preview: First Look at the Trends, Tools and Technologies - Creative Planet Network

2014 NAB Show Preview: First Look at the Trends, Tools and Technologies

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NAB Show technology trends tend to evolve over a period of three years. The first year marks the introduction of a glitzy new technology, and the second year sees that technology as part of a company’s mainstream production line. By the third year, it’s either fully integrated or an “also ran.”

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ARRI Amira

This is 4K’s second year at the NAB Show. If trends hold true, we will see many companies touting it as a mainstream production and postproduction methodology.

I expect that the trends vying for attendees’ attention this year will be 4K (mainly represented by the UHD 16:9 3840 x 2160 pixel format), H.265 encoding, and products compliant with the Thunderbolt 2 data protocol employed in Apple’s new Mac Pro computer.

Cameras and Lenses

It can’t shoot 4K, but I suspect many camera buyers will still be lining up to get close and personal with the ARRI AMIRA. Touted as the ideal documentary camera, it’s really a lighter, smaller sibling of ARRI’s Alexa. The two share a sensor design, but the AMIRA maxes out at 2K (2048 pixels) and records using the Apple ProRes codec family to cards without any camera raw recording options. It starts at $39,999, but a fully optioned camera with accessories (no lens) can run you northwards of $60K. ARRI is taking a gamble without a 4K product by banking on the look championed by the Alexa to win over users from Sony and RED.

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Sony F55

SONY’s biggest contender in the 4K arena is the F55. It offers 4K on-board recording and 4K/2K raw options. With add-ons and accessories, the F55 package will run a bit less than an AMIRA package, but if you are interested primarily in HD and 2K production, then both cameras stack up pretty closely. It really boils down to ergonomics, the look of the image and the subjective likes and dislikes of the camera operator. NAB Show offers the first opportunity for many to make that direct comparison. Additional cameras in Sony’s 4K lineup include the F65, F5 and FS700.

Meanwhile, RED—one of the first manufacturers to support 4K acquisition—has continued to develop and improve its models, including the EPIC camera and Dragon sensor. EPIC (and the smaller Scarlet) features a modular camera design targeted at both motion and still photographers. The camera body comes in different construction designs and offers two sensor choices. The Dragon sensor offers greater than 16.5 stops of dynamic range and a 6144 x 3160 pixel array.

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RED EPIC with Dragon sensor

A new software feature in development is Advanced Dragon Debayer (A.D.D.). According to Jarred Land of RED, “A.D.D. is a new hyper-debayer algorithm for Dragon that spends a ton of time analyzing every single pixel and creating the best frame possible. It doesn’t pull any punches. It processes everything at the highest degree possible and squeezes out every last ounce buried deep inside Dragon R3Ds.”

In late February PANASONIC announced two new VariCam cameras, the 4K VariCam 35 and the high-speed VariCam HS, both of which will ship in the fall. The VariCam 35 incorporates a newly developed Super 35mm MOS image sensor for 4096 x 2160 4K image capture. The 2/3” VariCam HS features high-speed 1080p image capture up to 240 fps. The new VariCam models are modular, so that the 4K and 2/3” camera heads are separate from but dockable to the recording module, enabling professionals to switch between Super 35mm and 2/3” camera heads to best suit their creative needs. Both VariCams include Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA family of video codecs.

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Panasonic VariCam HS and VariCam 35

To accommodate the greater data requirements of the VariCam 25 and HS, Panasonic announced the expressP2 card, specifically designed to accommodate high frame rate 1080 HD AVC-ULTRA recording (above 60 fps) and 4K capture. The 256 GB expressP2 Card facilitates the 4K VariCam 35’s recording of 4K video at frame rates up to 120p, as well as the 2/3” VariCam HS’s 1080 HD recording at frame rates up to 240 fps.

The other pre-NAB camera announcement from Panasonic was the 5 lb. handheld AJ-PX270, a P2 HD camera with AVC-ULTRA recording and 3G/4G/LTE wireless mobility. The AJ-PX270 will ship before the NAB Show.

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Blackmagic Production Camera 4K

While these four companies may be at the top of many lists, I’m sure many will make the BLACKMAGIC DESIGN booth their first stop at the show. Blackmagic now offers three cameras at ridiculously low prices (Cinema Camera, Pocket Cinema Camera, Production Camera 4K) and has walked into the NAB Show with a big surprise each of the past few years. In the 4K world, the Blackmagic Production Camera 4K just received a price drop to the insanely low price of $2,995. It connects to a laptop via Thunderbolt so you can check levels using UltraScope software. Each camera comes with a full copy of DaVinci Resolve.

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Canon EOS C300

CANON fans will be interested to see what the company is doing with its Cinema EOS line. The C100 and C300 models have become quite popular, while the C500 seems to lag behind. It features 4K raw recording using an external recorder, but those recording solutions have been slow to come to market. Canon also offers the EOS-1D C, which is built on a DSLR form factor. It records industry-standard 4K Motion JPEG files, so the workflow with this camera is quite easy. No external recorder or raw decoding is required.

Canon technical advisor for professional imaging products Chuck Westfall predicted trends at this year’s show in an interview with TV Technology. He says, “We will be seeing more in the way of versatile and affordable 4K and HD workflows for film and television production, including acquisition technology such as cameras and lenses, as well as postproduction including 4K reference displays. As the market for 4K and HD content continues to expand, producers of motion pictures, television shows, documentaries and other forms of programming are interested in digital cinematography cameras that deliver exceptional picture quality, a convenient form factor that integrates well into every production environment, high mobility, low-light performance and affordability.

“The integration of 4K, 2K and HD image acquisition is driving another important trend, which is the backend workflows and technology to post process this incredible footage and enable it to look its best,” Westfall continues. “This has created the need for a color-accurate 4K reference display for use during all phases of 4K, 2K, HD and UHD production and post. In addition to picture sharpness, producers are interested in reference displays delivering total color accuracy for color grading, compliance with industry postproduction standards, high brightness and connectivity.”

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iOgrapher

Accordingly, you can expect to see Canon’s new DP-V3010 4K reference display in its NAB Show booth.

GOPRO will be demonstrating a number of enhancements to the GoPro HERO3+: new mounts and updates to to GoPro Studio software. The company will also have news regarding GoPro HERO3+ 3D capabilities.

The increasing use of phone and tablet cameras has fueled the market for professional accessories for these emerging platforms. IOGRAPHER will debut iOgrapher for Apple iPad Air and iPhone 5S. With handles on either side of the case, iOgrapher turns an iPad/iPhone into a stable handheld rig. Further, iOgrapher enables users to add 37mm lenses to its lens mount area for wide angle, fisheye or macro shots.

Editing Software

Avid this year is hosting Avid Connect, the first official gathering of the Avid Customer Association (ACA). Avid Connect takes place at the Bellagio during the weekend prior to the start of the NAB Show (April 4-6). It will be a chance for Avid execs to showcase their vision to customers. According to an Avid press release, the ACA initiative is “designed to provide essential strategic leadership, collaboration with industry leaders and visionaries, and a forum to address the most important issues facing the media industry.” The ACA comprises focused advisory councils representing different areas of the media industry, such as corporate strategy, products and solutions, and industry standards and practices.

AVID hasn’t announced new products for the show, but 4K mastering is unlikely to be in the lineup, since the only 4K-capable Avid product, Avid DS, has been dropped. Expect updates to the flagship products, including Media Composer, Pro Tools, ISIS storage and Interplay.

Editing tools have become commoditized, which makes Adobe’s Creative Cloud ecosystem very attractive to many. ADOBE will be previewing the latest updates to Premiere Pro, After Effects, Prelude and SpeedGrade. The Creative Cloud toolset can handle 4K and camera raw media and is designed as an end-to-end, cross-platform solution. Off the show floor, Adobe will present the keynote at Post Production World on Sunday, April 6, titled “Breaking the Rules: The Next-Gen Content Creator,” featuring filmmakers Ryan Connolly, Kanen Flowers and Peter Salvia.

Editors interested in Apple Final Cut Pro X will have to see whether it is showcased in the booths of other companies, like AJA, Matrox and Blackmagic. (APPLE has no formal presence as an exhibitor at NAB Show.) Naturally there will be curiosity about how many vendors present demos using Apple’s new, tube-shaped Mac Pro. Apple has been slow to deliver them, with orders running several months out. As such, many editors will use NAB to try to gauge how well they perform. That is, if they can find demo units at the show.

AUTODESK, which broke interesting new ground with Smoke 2013 for the Mac last year, will be back with new, as-yet-unannounced offerings. Their booth will feature artist presentations in professional video, 3D animation and finishing.

Not all of the editing software comes from these “A” companies. QUANTEL, EDITSHARE/LIGHTWORKS, SONY CREATIVE SOFTWARE and GRASS VALLEY will all be there, of course, with their own editing software. Even BLACKMAGIC DESIGN is expanding the editing features of its DaVinci Resolve color correction application.

If your focus is news editing, then you might want to check out DALET DIGITAL MEDIA SYSTEMS’ Onecut multimedia editor. It is designed for streamlined operations ranging from simple trimming to advanced video editing and audio sweetening. Onecut is built on fast networked access for collaboration among journalists, content editors, production assistants and finishing editors.

Video Recording and Postproduction Hardware

The external hardware required for editing has become quite simple, relying instead on your computer’s horsepower. Increasingly this means GPU performance and that’s where NVIDIA comes in. At the NAB Show, the company will be showcasing the latest generation of Quadro professional GPUs and the GRID Visual Computing Appliance for remote GPU acceleration.

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AJA Io 4K

On display from AJA VIDEO SYSTEMS will be its new Io 4K video I/O device. Io 4K connects via Thunderbolt 2 and supports a range of formats, including SD, HD, UHD and full 4K over both SDI and HDMI. AJA will also be highlighting Ki Pro Quad, a portable recorder for 4K/Quad HD/2K/HD workflows supporting Apple ProRes and camera raw data. Also on display: AJA’s wide range of I/O products (KONA), converters and file-based recorders (Ki Pro).

In an interview with TV Technology magazine, AJA product marketing manager Bryce Button said, “4K is here and here to stay. This NAB Show is bound to show a filling out of 4K infrastructure offerings for the needs across the workflow, after the initial enthusiasm stirred by 4K cameras and early 4K displays. A lot of our customers are interested in finding better, more affordable and practical 4K solutions at NAB Show this year, and as a leader in this space, we aim to not disappoint them. We also anticipate there will be a growing list of new products from others addressing Thunderbolt 2 workflows after the successful launch of our Io 4K for use with the new Mac Pro and HP machines.”

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Blackmagic UltraStudio 4K- front and back

Like AJA, BLACKMAGIC DESIGN will be showing its broad range of converters (Teranex), recording devices (HyperDeck) and I/O products. If 4K is important to you, then UltraStudio 4K will be of interest. It’s a rack-mount breakout box design that connects via Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2. Connections include 6G-SDI, HDMI 4K, 16 channels of SDI audio, and additional analog and serial deck control ports. It features up/down/cross-conversion and includes a Thunderbolt pass-through connector for daisy-chaining additional Thunderbolt devices.

Other popular recording devices include the Codex and Cinedeck recorders. CINEDECK has broken into 4K tapeless production with the Cinedeck MX4K recorder. It captures two channels of 30 fps 4K from 4K/Ultra HD sources and simultaneously creates edit-ready HD master and proxy deliverables. CODEX has also turned its attention to 4K workflows. Its Vault product line enables the cloning and archiving of media, and the creation of dailies and other deliverables. It is compatible with digital cameras made by ARRI, Sony, Canon and RED.

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Sonnet xMac mini Server

Anyone interested in the new Macs is wondering about Thunderbolt 2 expansion. SONNET TECHNOLOGIES will bring its Echo Express line of PCI Express expansion products to the show. These systems facilitate mobile and on-location workflows by enabling any Mac computer equipped with Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt ports to interface with a wide variety of high-performance PCIe cards originally designed only for use in desktop computers. Sonnet will also feature the latest generation of its xMac mini Server, which securely mounts a Mac mini inside a specially designed rack-mount enclosure and connects two PCIe 2.0 slots via a Thunderbolt port.

As the cost of storage comes down, so does the cost of operating a facility with a shared storage (SAN) installation. FACILIS TECHNOLOGY returns to the show with TerraBlock 6.0, which supports 8/16 Gb/s Fibre Channel and 1/10 Gb/s Ethernet through Facilis’ Shared File System. SyncBlock 2.0 is Facilis’ newest line of integrated synchronization, backup and archiving solutions, which allow users to seamlessly locate and restore data, and build an affordable tiered storage network.

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EditShare Field 2

Another popular storage supplier, EDITSHARE, returns with a wide range of workflow solutions. Company reps will be showing 40 Gb/s Ethernet connectivity that allows playback of up to 16 streams of 10-bit uncompressed HD 1080i/59.94 on a single Windows-based Avid Media Composer system, as well as playback of uncompressed 4K in Windows applications such as Assimilate Scratch and Lightworks.

Headlining the lineup is EditShare Storage v7, which sports a new and intuitive EditShare Connect interface and features a Quality of Service (QoS) system that reserves bandwidth for high-priority activities such as real-time capture or playout and limits the bandwidth of low-priority activities. Other highlights include the EditShare Flow version 3 media asset management solution, including a new Adobe Premiere Flow panel that lets you interact with EditShare’s Flow asset management software right inside of Premiere Pro CC, and the portable EditShare Field 2 shared storage system. In addition, expect some announcements about how EditShare and Adobe Anywhere work together.

NEWTEK will showcase its TriCaster multi-camera video production systems, 3Play slow motion instant replay solutions, and the rapidly growing NewTek Developer Network. Additionally, NewTek will host the Broadcast Minds panel discussion on Wednesday, April 9, featuring actor and comedian Tom Green, illusionist Criss Angel, My Damn Channel CEO Rob Barnett and GeekBeat TV host Cali Lewis. This group of pro video and new media thought leaders will examine changes in the way people produce and consume online video content. NewTek will live stream the session at www.nabshow.com.

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Atomos Ninja Blade

Consumer demand for exceptional viewing performance and quality is soaring, and new standards such as UHDTV/4K are driving a need for higher resolutions and higher frame rates throughout the broadcast distribution chain. GRASS VALLEY is solving the challenges that these issues present with innovation across its entire product range. Every product in its NAB Show booth has been updated. Reps and customers will present live interactive tutorials to demonstrate how Grass Valley’s future-ready solutions are empowering creativity and addressing the challenges associated with producing and delivering content across multiple platforms.

ATOMOS will be showcasing its Ninja and Samurai camera-mounted recorders and pocket-sized Connect converters. Ninja Blade allows the recording of 10-bit images from the camera sensor directly to inexpensive HDD or SSD drives, captured using Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD codecs. Waveform, vectorscope and monitor assist tools such as tri-level focus peaking, zebra, false color and blue-only offer a comprehensive test and shot setup toolkit.

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Small Tree ThunderNET2

SMALL TREEannounced plans to bring its ThunderNET2 solutions to the show. ThunderNET2 provides creative media professionals a cost-effective solution to integrate Thunderbolt-equipped platforms into high-performance storage and data networks. Small Tree’s family of ThunderNET2 products provide PCI expansion capability for Gb Ethernet and 10GB Ethernet network adapters to Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac and Mac minis equipped with Thunderbolt technology.

Encoding

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Telestream Vantage Cloud

TELESTREAM will showcase three new enterprise-class products based on the Vantage file-based video transcoding and workflow automation platform. These include Traffic Manager, Post Producer and Vantage Cloud. The company will also demonstrate a new desktop application, Switch, a multiformat player that allows users to play, inspect and correct media. Switch supports high-quality playback for MOV, MP4, MKV, MXF, GXF, MPS, MTS and other formats. The built-in inspector displays media properties, including audio channels, aspect ratio, bit rate and encoding formats. Users can make adjustments to media, including trim/scale/crop, changing aspect ratio, rearranging audio tracks, editing speaker assignments, and even changing codec and format.

Following Telestream’s acquisition of closed captioning company CPC last summer, its MacCaption and CaptionMaker file-based software products and captioning experts will be part of Telestream’s team this year. The complete family of Vantage transcoding and workflow products, including new HEVC/x265 encoding, 4K support and Lightspeed K20 GPU acceleration, will also be featured.

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Matrox Monarch HD

MATROX’s Video and Graphics divisions will be at the NAB Show with updated and new I/O cards and streaming solutions. Matrox Monarch HD is a small H.264 encoder that can simultaneously stream a live event and record a mastering-quality version for post-event editing. It simultaneously records a high-quality MP4 or MOV file to an SD card, USB drive or  network-mapped drive. Matrox’s new VS4Recorder is a standalone multicamera recording app bundled with Matrox VS4 Quad HD capture cards that gives live event producers complete independent control over the capture of the four inputs connected to the VS4.

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Matrox Mojito 4K

If you work with 4K video, you’ll be interested in Matrox’s Mojito 4K video monitoring output card for use with Adobe Creative Cloud editing tools on the Windows platform. It features four 3G-SDI outputs and genlock input. It provides 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering and enables real-time monitoring and output of video footage at resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 and at frame rates up to 60 fps (4Kp60). Users can ingest, edit, render and export in full 4K.

Editing Tools

Located adjacent to the Plug-In Pavilion in the South Hall lower level, BORIS FX’s booth will feature Boris Continuum Complete 9, a package of visual effects for NLE and compositing platforms on Windows and Mac OS. Version 9 adds more than 30 new filters and transitions in key areas such as image restoration, film and stylize effects, keying and compositing, lights and perspective. More than 1,000 presets are included. All BCC effects and presets can be viewed in the new FX Browser window, which is integrated into every BCC filter or transition. Both static and animated BCC presets are supported is Adobe After Effects and Avid Media Composer. Via Boris Transfer workflow utilities, effects may be migrated to Adobe, Avid and Apple video editing software with parameters and keyframe information intact.

In the Plug-In Pavilion, RAMPANT DESIGN TOOLS will debut its 5K, 4K and 2K libraries of QuickTime elements, which are delivered as Apple ProRes media on 1 TB USB 3.0 drives compatible with both Apple and Windows OS. These packages of drag-and-drop effects include Rampant Cinema Series 5K, Rampant Broadcast Series 4K, Rampant Production Series 2K and Rampant Essentials 2K. Cinema Series 5K is the first in the industry to deliver 5K effects (5120 x 2700), complete with high-speed effects up to 120 fps.  

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