The lead up to the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas is usually a guessing game, with manufacturers revealing details only in the days before the convention’s start. There are several themes we can count on this year, though. We will see 4K as a largely mainstream feature, with many companies showing 4K products. As we dive deeper into the real world of 4K production and post, we will see more of a distinction between UHD (3840 pixels wide) and DCI 4K (4096 pixels wide). A number of manufacturers will go beyond 4K into 6K, 8K and even higher resolutions. Expect to see more cloud-based services. Most of these will center around Internet-based review and approval or lightweight editing applications. I think we’ll hear more about HDR (high dynamic range imagery) in monitors (like Dolby Vision display technology), cameras (RED) and other devices. Lastly, many attendees will be curious to see how many companies shift to a subscription pricing strategy and what that means for their software investment.
If your main focus is post, then you’ll be keen on news from Avid, Adobe, Autodesk and Apple. Avid will be repeating its Avid Connect event, which takes place the weekend prior to the NAB Show’s kickoff. This year it’s at Caesar’s Palace April 10-12, and Avid promises more in-depth sessions on Saturday. As far as products, expect Avid to make a big push for Media Composer | Software version 8.3, its first to work with native 2K and 4K project sizes. Naturally, Avid is very much a “big iron” company these days, focusing on the total concept of the Avid Everywhere platform. A new feature will be the inclusion of Nexidia Dialogue Search as a feature of Interplay.
Autodesk Tweak RV
Adobe will be previewing the next wave its Creative Cloud tools for video and audio, including Premiere Pro, After Effects, Media Encoder, Prelude, SpeedGrade, Adobe Anywhere, and mobile solutions including Adobe Premiere Clip. Adobe has made hundreds of feature updates to its tools in the past year to provide additional functionality for video professionals, including improvements to streamline editing and expand support for native formats such as 4K and raw.
Autodesk will be showcasing the latest versions of its Media & Entertainment software, focusing on Flame, Maya and Shotgun. Shotgun Software (acquired last summer by Autodesk) develops a scalable, cloud-based production tracking, review and asset management solution for the film, television and games industries. Tweak Software, developer of RV, an image and sequence playback tool, has also been acquired by Autodesk and will be joining forces with Shotgun Software. With Shotgun at the center, Autodesk has developed the integration of its tools to facilitate postproduction and improve both efficiency and ease of use across the pipeline.
AJA Io 4K
Apple will be there only in spirit, as I’m sure we’ll see plenty of trash can-shaped Mac Pros in vendors’ booths, along with instances of Final Cut Pro X spotted here and there. The best information regarding FCP X workflows will be coming from FCPworks, which will host an FCP X Presentation Suite at the Renaissance Hotel, right next door to the Convention Center. There will be about 15 sessions spread over three days (April 13-15) dedicated to specific FCP X workflows, case studies and third-party integration.
If you use any of these NLEs and need professional video ingest and output, then tools from AJA and Blackmagic Design are common choices. Both companies have developed broad portfolios of products that include cameras, recorders, software and capture devices. AJA will feature its CION camera and 4K products such as Io 4K. There’s a new unified software driver that adds 4K support for Avid Media Composer 8.3, as well as a Wirecast capture plug-in for support of Telestream Wirecast.
Blackmagic Intensity Pro 4K
Blackmagic Design has been full of surprises. During the past year, Blackmagic acquired the Fusion software from eyeon, which adds a powerful node-based compositing application to its portfolio. Many are curious to see how quickly they can port Fusion to Mac OS—it’s possible it could happen this year. Regarding capture products, Blackmagic announced a new Intensity Pro 4K capture card for SD, HD and UHD. It’s a PCIe card for Mac, Windows and Linux computers. The new Intensity Pro 4K includes all the features of the Intensity Pro model it replaces and adds deep color support in HDMI, higher frame rate 1080p60 capture and playback, and high-resolution Ultra HD capture and playback up to 2160p30 via HDMI. It will be interesting to see if Blackmagic has any announcements about its film scanner, developed through its acquisition of Cintel and first announced last year.
Speaking of film—which is far from dead—Digital Film Technology will be announcing technology developments in its latest Scanity HDR film scanner. New for the NAB Show is the Wetgate System. A fully working prototype of Wetgate technology, first announced at last year’s NAB Show, will be on view at the DFT booth. Specifically designed for Scanity HDR, it provides a real-time organic solution for the ingest and management of difficult-to-solve historical film transfer issues—such as dust and scratch removal—surpassing prior transfer standards.
Of course, most of the world has shifted to digital acquisition, and at the high end we can expect to see new products from RED and ARRI. RED has teased a new product called Weapon, which appears to be a camera body upgrade for EPIC and Scarlet cameras with Dragon sensors. The body style continues the modular design, so you can build up the accessories based on your I/O needs.
ARRI Alexa Mini
ARRI has been rolling out its Amira camera and adding internal 3.2K/4K UHD recording support to Alexa and Amira products. On the high-end rental side, ARRI offers a larger-sensor 65mm version of Alexa aimed primarily at the feature film market. A new announcement is the compact Alexa Mini camera. Alexa Mini can be operated in a number of ways: by wireless remote control, as a normal camera with the ARRI MVF-1 multi-viewfinder attached, or with an onboard monitor and controlled via the user button interface on the camera body. According to ARRI, it’s light enough to be comfortably held at arm’s length in a hand rig. The Mini is equipped with a 4:3 sensor, automatic de-squeeze mode for anamorphic productions and frame rates of 0.75 to 200 fps. It records ProRes or uncompressed ARRIRAW either in-camera to CFast 2.0 cards or to a specially designed external Codex recorder that can record image streams from up to four Alexa Minis simultaneously. Like the ARRI Amira, the Alexa Mini can record 4K UHD ProRes images.
While Sony and Panasonic will definitely be promoting their F55, FS7 and VariCam 35 4K cameras, respectively, Sony will also be featuring its software prowess with new products from Sony Creative Software. During the past year, the company has released Catalyst Browse and Catalyst Prepare, tools to review, organize, select and transcode media from Sony cameras and other camera brands. A new member of the Catalyst family is Catalyst Edit. It focuses on HD, 4K and Sony raw video editing, which is designed to be as fast and easy as cutting HD. According to Sony, Catalyst Edit introduces an innovative approach to multichannel audio that reduces the complexity of taking your audio from the camera and other sources to multichannel delivery. Catalyst Edit integrates tightly with Catalyst Prepare to provide continuity from media prep through the edit stage.
Sony Creative Software Catalyst Edit
Don’t forget about live broadcast and event production. EVS will unveil a wide range of new solutions. EVS’ iconic production server (XT3) offers more power with its latest multicam engine software upgrade. The XT3 has increased SuperMotion camera density and integrated Epsio graphic tools, while delivering more ingest and playout options for workflows with the XT3’s Spotbox and XS. EVS also features live content management software. IPDirector live production software offers new capabilities for fast ingest, management, exchange and contribution.
Quantel is ready to jump into this game with its new LiveTouch products. There are three models of LiveTouch: Highlights, Production and Enterprise. At the system’s heart is a compact 3U LiveTouch server. Inter-server streaming allows multiple LiveTouch servers to be used as one large virtual server, giving operators instant access to any clip, irrespective of where it is being recorded. LiveTouch also integrates Quantel editing. The workflow is two-way: editors can access the highlights with no media movement and any panel can play back any completed sequence. Thanks to Quantel’s Frame Magic technology, no media ever needs to be copied or moved and there is no need to duplicate storage for editing.
Another company pushing deeper into the live production arena is FOR-A, with its line of Hanabi switchers. The HVS-2000 video switcher is making its NAB Show debut, after being introduced to the market at IBC. The HVS-2000 is suited to a variety of applications, including live event, television studio, mobile truck, house of worship and educational settings. It can be used for SD, HD, 3G and 4K productions, and allows up to 48 inputs/18 outputs or 40 inputs/22 outputs (optional). One exclusive feature offered by the video switcher is MELite, which allows a traditional AUX bus to transform into a functional Mix Effects bus with cuts, mix, wipes, keys and DVE, including full preview. The MELite feature enables the HVS-2K engine to offer the production capabilities of a fully functional 6 M/E switcher.
1 Beyond Stream Machine.
On the smaller side is 1 Beyond’s Stream Machine, an all-in-one live event system. It features a portable, rugged workstation that starts at $6,500 for a 4-input model, with built-in screen and keyboard. Stream Machine may be purchased with 1 Beyond’s CameraBundle (three to four cameras, carry cases, tripods), which ensures that all components of the studio or event switching/recording/streaming kit are supported by a single vendor. There’s an easy-to-use control surface for simple, single-key operation. Another useful 1 Beyond product is ThunderTape 2 external LTO storage for Mac systems. ThunderTape 2 includes a single LTO-6 drive and an empty bay that can be configured with an additional device when shipped or later as requirements dictate.
Plenty of companies are in the cloud business these days and most have expanded to offer true collaborative features. Aframe will unveil its next-generation cloud collaboration platform at the show. Aframe enables teams to upload, transcode and store video footage, organize content and collaborate across locations and time zones at every stage of the production media lifecycle. Aframe’s 2015 Spring Release will include expanded search and discovery features, enhanced multimedia format handling for non-video assets such as audio files, graphic files and documents, and a new approvals workflow for more streamlined feedback among users.
Wipster offers a different take on cloud-based review and approval. The company is making its American debut at the 2015 NAB Show in the Plug-In Pavilion with a new cloud-based, collaborative review and approval platform for video. Wipster combines extensive collaborative functionality with powerful video review features, such as the ability to create content-rich e-mails and share secure folders with anyone via a simple invite. Wipster also offers frame-accurate video playback, contextual commenting and version stacking—all in a simple interface that eliminates the tedium of connecting geographically disparate creative teams. Plus, Wipster allows users to deliver unlimited videos in their original formats—ideal for any postproduction workflow.
Another company embracing the cloud is Assimilate, which launched Scratch Web, an online, multi-user collaboration and review tool that offers sharing of real-time timelines with versioning capability (Scratch CONstruct). According to Assimilate, any creative professional is able to publish raw material in any format, in any resolution, at any time, from anywhere in the world. Scratch Web enables robust collaboration for anyone on the creative team and supports the formats they use to shoot, edit and distribute digital content: RED, ARRI, Blackmagic, Sony, Panasonic, Canon, MXF, DPX, EXR, ProRes and others. With a private web channel, timelines can be locked down with industry-standard encryption and permissions. With the public channel, publishers can easily create links to share their content with the world.
Assimilate Scratch Web
When it comes to visual effects tools, few companies are as prolific as Boris FX. This will be the first year we see the new combination of Boris FX and Imagineer Systems. Boris Yamnitsky, founder and CEO of Boris FX, says, “By incorporating mocha’s powerful planar tracking directly into Continuum Complete and also giving mocha Pro the ability to launch as a plug-in, we’ll bring more advanced visual effects tools directly to hosts such as Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve.” At the NAB Show they’ll be showcasing Boris Continuum Complete 10, featuring greater integration with mocha, new 3D titling tools, import of Cinema 4D models, new image restoration filters, new transitions and added host support. mocha Pro 5 will also be shown, with the new ability to launch mocha Pro directly from the host application timeline. It includes Avid AVX, Adobe After Effects/Premiere and OFX host support.
If audio holds the most interest for you, be sure to check out the iZotope booth, where the company will unveil new post-centric tools to tackle the challenges of creating consistent and compliant levels, stems and surround channels. iZotope will also showcase the latest version of its RX 4 application with RX Connect for streamlined workflows between popular video and audio editing applications. RX 4 is an advanced audio repair and restoration tool.
The NAB Show isn’t just about gear; it’s also a social and learning environment. In addition to Avid Connect and the annual Creative Pro User Group Las Vegas SuperMeet, numerous training sessions will be conducted during Post|Production World. As part of NAB Show’s Creative Master Series, Oscar-nominated editor Sandra Adair (Boyhood) will be giving a keynote address. No matter what your interest or specialty, NAB always has a little something for everyone.
Azden FMX-42u Mixer
See it at NAB Show
Replacing the FMX-42, Azden’s FMX-42u four-channel portable mixer offers an onboard A/D converter, digital Mini USB out and analog dual XLR outputs. Simultaneous use of both outputs allows the analog signal to be sent to the camera while a backup digital signal is sent to a smartphone or tablet. Features include peak VU meters, four inputs (each with three input gain settings) and selectable phantom power. The suggested retail price is $780.
SKB iSeries 1309 Waterproof Sony A7 Series Case
This waterproof, submersible hard case (model 3i-13096SA7) features an interior of custom-cut PE foam that will accommodate a Sony a7, a7R or a7S camera bod, lens hood section, two lens slots and accessory pocket. A removable section of foam allows a 70-200mm lens to remain attached to the camera. Each lens slot has three half-inch removable rings to fit a variety of lenses. Street price is $119.99.