2016 NAB Show: Product Previews and Predictions

Here's what's new and interesting at the 2016 NAB Show.
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It’s springtime in Las Vegas and time for the annual NAB Show. The highlight of previous year’s shows, 4K video, is largely mainstream, and it’s not yet clear what the next driver of technology innovation will be. Contenders include higher-than-4K resolution (like 8K), virtual reality (VR) and high dynamic range (HDR). All of these technologies have at least a few shipping products, but none has been standardized enough to start enticing a critical mass of buyers. This will be a great show for product buyers, then, precisely because it may be a more stable show than usual. But you never know!

In and Around the Show

The many smaller presentations that take place before and concurrent with the week’s trade show activities are part of the draw. If you are a loyal Avid user, then you’ll likely want to attend Avid Connect at the Wynn Hotel. Avid Connect is scheduled for April 16 and 17—the weekend before the NAB Show exhibit floor opens on Monday, April 18. Avid Connect includes Avid’s keynote presentation, advisory council meetings, breakout sessions and evening events. Learn more at www.avidcustomerassociation.com/2016.

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New technology at the Codex Digital booth at last year’s NAB Show. Photo by Al Powers.

Although Apple doesn’t exhibit at the show, there are still plenty of events and products relevant to Mac users. Final Cut Pro X users will benefit from FCP Exchange, a two-day series of workflow presentations hosted by FCPWORKS on April 18 and 19 at the Renaissance Hotel. Apple will be making a presentation there on the morning of both days.

In addition, there will be a keynote presentation discussing the making of the film Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (edited using Apple Final Cut Pro X). The talk will feature the film’s co-directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, and editor, Jan Kovac. Part of the Post|Production World conference, the event will take place on Sunday, April 17, at 11 a.m. in room N249. Post|Production World features more than 250 sessions on production and post technology and management. It runs from Saturday through Wednesday.

Another highlight of the week for many is the Las Vegas SuperMeet, organized by the Creative Pro User Group Network. That’s at the Rio Hotel on Tuesday night. The event will include a series of presentations culminating in their popular raffle.

Cameras

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 AJA RovoCam

AJA Video Systems, which surprised everyone with the introduction of the CION camera a few years ago, adds a new camera to its lineup at this year’s NAB Show: RovoCam, the company’s first block camera. It’s designed for a wide range of applications, from industrial and corporate to pro AV and broadcast. RovoCam is built around a Sony 4K CMOS sensor. What sets it apart from other cameras is an integrated HDBaseT interface that supports uncompressed video, power, stereo audio and RS-232 control over a single Cat 5e/6 cable running at lengths of up to 100 meters.

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Sony PXW-Z150

Speaking of Sony, it will have several new cameras on the floor, including the PXW-FS5—the new, smaller sibling to the PXW-FS7. The FS5 is designed for handheld work, as opposed to the FS7’s shoulder-mounted operation. It features a 4K Super 35 image sensor, 14 stops of dynamic range, and S-Log2/S-Log3 gamma encoding with an S-Gamut3.Cine mode. It utilizes the XAVC-L codec for 4K recording at 100 Mb/s, as well as 1080p HD at 25, 35 or 50 Mb/s. Another Sony camera entry is the PXW-Z150 compact camcorder. It uses an Exmor sensor and fixed zoom lens and employs the same XAVC-L codec and specs as the FS5. The PXW-Z150 supports full HD shooting at a continuous 120 fps for slow motion applications.

On the DSLR side of the company, Sony just released the mirrorless a6300, part of the Alpha camera line. It uses a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sized Exmor CMOS sensor. As a video camera, it is capable of up to 120 fps in HD for slow motion, and 4K in 24p, 25p and 30p modes.

As a leader in camera innovation, RED Digital Cinema will include five models in its DSMC and DSMC2 (digital stills and motion camera) lineup at the show. These include Epic and Scarlet, joined by Weapon (introduced at the 2015 NAB Show), and new Scarlet-W and Raven. The latter two are powerful new entrants into the lower-priced—but no less capable—camera market. Raven uses the 4.5K RED Dragon sensor. It is capable of up to 120 fps full-frame 4.5K or up to 240 fps in 2K (full-frame). Its starting price is $5,950 for the Brain (basic camera module) and goes up from there, depending on accessories. Avid and RED recently announced that the DSMC2 models (Weapon, Scarlet-W and RED Raven) will support the recording of Avid DNxHD and DNxHR codecs by mid-2016. This can occur simultaneously with REDCODE RAW recording. These models already permit simultaneous Apple ProRes recording.

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Panasonic VariCam LT

Panasonic’s 4K VariCam 35 is starting to get traction in the real world, and the company’s newly announced 4K VariCam LT will likely be a hit at this year’s NAB Show. The smaller VariCam LT weighs in at under 6 pounds, yet integrates the same Super 35 imaging system as the larger VariCam model. VariCam LT captures in multiple formats including 4K (4096 x 2160), UHD (3840 x 2160), 2K and HD. Like the VariCam 35, it is capable of high dynamic range (HDR) field capture. The new 4K camcorder offers Apple ProRes 4444 (up to 30p) and ProRes 422 HQ (up to 60p) support for HD recording, as well as Panasonic’s AVC-Ultra family of video codecs. New codecs introduced in the VariCam LT include AVC-Intra LT and AVC-Intra 2K-LT—both designed to offer capture rates up to 240 fps in crop mode.

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Ikegami UHK-430

Camera stalwart Ikegamiwill bring its new 2/3-inch UHK-430 Ultra HD camera to the show. This ENG/EFP-style camera offers simultaneous 4K and 2K output, including an option for 2K extracted from the 4K image. It supports 40 Gb/s transmission, uncompressed 4:4:4 signals and 1GbE remote control over a network. HDR support is implemented using Ikegami’s iLog gamma encoding to capture a wide latitude image.

Storage

Shared storage solutions for broadcast and post will be all over the show and more affordable than ever. One vendor to watch is LumaForge, which is making waves in the Final Cut Pro X community. LumaForge will have a suite at the Encore Hotel, as well as be part of the FCPWORKS solutions suite at the Renaissance Hotel. A new product for the company is Jellyfish, a small SAN designed for high-performance video workflows. It will come in 24, 32 and 48 TB capacities, with connectivity for two 10GbE and four 1GbE users. LumaForge claims a performance spec of over 1,600 MB/s total bandwidth and 1,000 MB/s to a single 10GbE user.

Maxx Digital, which has a booth on the show floor, will demonstrate NAS storage products based on QNAP Systems hardware. These range from the entry-level TVS-863+ and TVS-871T all the way to the high-end TVS-ESxx80 series, which features the ability to support 40GbE, RAM caching and drive performance exceeding 3,800 MB/s. Maxx Digital will also be showing Apple Macintosh-based shared storage systems that use massive 8 and 10 TB SATA drives to offer up to 160 TB of storage in a single RAID chassis.

Among these system integrators, don’t overlook 1 Beyond. The company will be showing a new petabyte RAID storage system offering NAS and SAN storage up to 8.6 petabytes. With 4K (and even up to 8K) footage becoming more common, it is necessary to have a large, extensible storage system. 1 Beyond remains a leader in LTO archival systems for “data wrangling” in the field or library applications. Its products have been updated to support LTO-7 drives. ThunderTape 3 is a third generation product, providing Mac users external LTO and/or hard drive storage. The unit connects via Thunderbolt, includes three drive bays and is small enough to carry around. It gives Mac laptop, iMac and Mac Pro “trash can” users the external storage they need.

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Archion EditStor Omni Hybrid

Among the larger storage vendors there’s Avid Technology, whose ISIS storage solutions range from ISIS|1000 up to the ISIS|7500. ISIS|1000, introduced at last year’s NAB Show, is still of interest to smaller users wanting to support shared storage with Media Composer or even non-Avid NLEs. This 2 RU-tall chassis holds up to 20 TB and can be scaled larger by connecting four units into one network, supporting up to 24 users. It connects via single or dual 1GbE or 10GbE.

Archion Technologies will launch Omni Hybrid, which is designed to support facilities with both high video streaming and graphic rendering demands. To achieve lower latency, Archion uses dedicated high-speed SSDs for the caching of small data.

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Facilis Technology products

Facilis Technology, which has consistently offered top-notch storage solutions, will show SSD and hybrid products this year. According to Facilis reps, they are striving to find the ideal balance for their customers when it comes to fast SSD technology. The new hybrid products blend traditional spinning hard drives with solid state to maximize performance, flexibility and longevity.

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EditShare XStream EFS Flow

EditShare launched XStream EFS high-availability shared storage at last year’s NAB Show. It has been used worldwide in various facilities and productions. Building on the performance of the EFS architecture and file system, EditShare will unveil the newest member of the XStream EFS family, designed to support incremental migrations to 4K/UHD.

Postproduction

Adobe will be previewing the next set of updates for its Creative Cloud tools for video and audio, including Premiere Pro and After Effects. Adobe has added hundreds of features to its tools for video professionals in the past year, including comprehensive native format support for Ultra HD editing, continued color advancements and support for HDR workflows.

Adobe will also have many marquee customers and product experts presenting at the NAB Show, including the postproduction team from the film Deadpool. Part of the Creative Master Series, “Deadpool: Leveraging Technology to Create a Stunning Superhero Film” takes place Tuesday, April 19, at 4:15 p.m. in room S220.

Although Avid Technology hasn’t announced specific presentation details, you can expect workflow and feature film editor presentations on their booth’s main stage. For editors, Media Composer 8.5 will garner the most interest. It was launched a short while ago and includes many new tools, such as an HDR workflow with higher-quality codecs, menu simplification, better timeline editing and trimming control, and numerous other interface enhancements. It now supports Windows 10 and Mac OS X El Capitan (v10.11). Two of its big new features are support for 64 voices of audio (up to 64 mono tracks) and grouping by waveform analysis.

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Ken Schneider with SAM’s Kahuna production switcher at last year’s NAB Show. Photo by Al Powers.

This year the former Snell & Wilcox and Quantel brands will finally be presented as a unified company: Snell Advanced Media (SAM). Key products will include the popular Kahuna switcher, designed for HD, 4K and now IP environments. The Quantel Rio editing and color correction system is already 8K-capable—SAM representatives will be showing its HDR and wide color gamut features, a brand new interface, enhanced Avid integration and accurate cloud tracker at this year’s show. SAM’s Alchemist XF standards converter now includes support for 4K and HDR, plus faster-than-real-time processing for HD content. SAM will introduce an edit timeline to the Go! remote production suite; desktop, laptop and tablet users will have access to live and recorded content to build stories, with timeline editing and voiceover recordings.

Through strategic acquisitions and subsequent development, Blackmagic Design has amassed a large product portfolio. Every year we wonder what surprises they’ll have in store. From the standpoint of post, the focus is on DaVinci Resolve and Fusion. Resolve is now a hybrid NLE and color correction application, and Fusion is a standalone node-based compositor. Whether Blackmagic will or can successfully integrate the two into a unified product is unknown. At the very least, we can expect Resolve to become an even stronger, more viable editor than last year.

Autodesk is one of the postproduction companies that has embraced the subscription business model. At this year’s NAB Show, the latest versions of Autodesk’s subscription-based effects, post and production management tools will be on display, including Flame, Maya, Shotgun and 3ds Max, along with innovative new creative workflows. According to Autodesk, visitors will receive a behind-the-scenes look at some of the latest creative work spanning film, TV and commercials via customer presentations from studios around the world.

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Matrox VS4Recorder Pro

Odds and Ends

Many small and large tools improve our production and post workflows. Matrox will demonstrate Matrox Monarch HDX, a compact, dual-channel H.264 encoding appliance. It features 3G-SDI and HDMI inputs with frame synchronization to compensate for unstable sources. Two independent H.264 encoders provide redundancy, or they can be set to stream and/or record at individual settings. Another useful tool from Matrox is the VS4Recorder Pro recording application, designed for use with Matrox VS4 quad HD capture cards. Each VS4Recorder Pro system frame-accurately captures up to four video and audio inputs to create files for use with editing apps from Adobe, Apple and Avid—as well as for archiving.

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iZotope RX plug-in pack

The merged Boris FX/Imagineer Systems team will showcase significant new versions of the flagship products Boris Continuum Complete 10 (BCC) and mocha 5. New for BCC 10 are mocha’s Academy Award-winning planar tracking and masking tools, which are now integrated into every BCC filter. Also new are Beauty Studio, Title Studio, and new image restoration tools, effects and transitions. New in mocha 5 is its ability to run as a plug-in directly in host applications, including Avid Media Composer, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve and The Foundry Nuke.

iZotope will be at the NAB Show with a focus on education and expanding its reach with a new RX plug-in pack that reduces the cost of entry for those venturing into audio repair and enhancement for the first time. iZotope will also be showcasing the online community The RX Cookbook, which shares the best recipes for success from audio cleanup experts.

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Telestream Vantage adaptive bit rate optimization diagram

Popular encoding company Telestream will be at the show touting enhancements to Vantage, an enterprise-class transcoding solution that can automate a number of functions. One new item is the Post Producer Titler Engine, developed in partnership with NewBlueFX. The new Titler Engine automates the creation of rich, animated, high-resolution titles and graphics when creating uniquely branded versions of the same package. Another addition to the Vantage platform is an adaptive bit rate optimization feature that can reduce delivery bandwidth by 25 to 40 percent while maintaining viewing quality.

Other tools to look for while you are at the show include Dashwood Cinema Solutions360VR Toolbox, a 360-degree virtual reality editing software suite. This is installed through the FxFactory plug-in management software. Tim Dashwood will demonstrate features like stereoscopic 360° slit-scan rendering and stereoscopic fisheye-to-spherical conversion. New plug-ins include 360° XYZ-axis reorientation, projection of 2D logos or video on 360VR, pan-and-scan output of “flat” video from 360VR sources, output of stereographic “little planet” or cubic “skyboxes” from 360VR sources, and spherical blur, sharpen, glow and noise reduction filters. Dashwood is located in the North Hall in the Virtual & Augmented Reality Pavilion.

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Divergent Media EditReady ScopeBox interface

Divergent Media will debut a new version of EditReady with ScopeBox integration. EditReady converts media for immediate preview and playback. It lets users apply LUTs for color correction, view and edit metadata, convert between DNxHD and ProRes and run simultaneous batches. Further, it allows users to generate proxy media or convert footage from different cameras. Now with ScopeBox integration, users have dedicated, full-time scopes without having to install external hardware. Divergent Media will be demoing in Pomfort’s booth.

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Pomfort Silverstack 5

Wrapping up with Pomfort, be sure to check out the new Silverstack 5. Silverstack has been the go-to media management tool for dailies creation while on location. Silverstack integrates with DaVinci Resolve and Avid Media Composer and is able to transfer media and color information in a streamlined way. Additionally, users can generate customizable clip reports with just a few clicks. New features in Silverstack 5 include extensive look management and color grading functions, a dynamic look library that seamlessly integrates with LiveGrade Pro, improved capabilities to transfer clip and color information to common dailies tools, advanced QC enhancements that now include professional HD-SDI monitoring, and frame lines with options for different aspect ratios. 

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