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Best in Show: 2013 Digital Video Black Diamond Award Winners

Each year the Digital Video team of editors, correspondents and industry professionals scours the NAB Show exhibit floor for the best new products. Our team was looking for new or significantly improved tools that would be of service and interest to the Digital Video readership, so while there were many other amazing items at the show, the judges selected this year’s Black Diamond honorees for their value to production professionals. What follows are our picks from the 2013 NAB Show.

Adobe Anywhere
Offered with Creative Cloud license

Adobe enters the world of cloud-based video editing and collaboration with Adobe Anywhere. Operating across local or wide area networks, Adobe Anywhere allows teams to share resources, removing the boundaries of project files so that multiple people can use different applications to work on the same production simultaneously. By adding more Mercury Streaming Engines to the system, it can scale to support bigger workgroups. Adobe Anywhere functionality will be integrated into future versions of Adobe Premiere Pro, Prelude and After Effects. Adobe Anywhere files are hosted on a local server with access fully controlled by local system administrator.

Corvid Ultra
AJA Video
Corvid Ultra $7,995; TruScale option card $3,495

Corvid Ultra delivers I/O, processing and scaling for complex, multiformat 4K/2K and HD/Dual Link/SD workflows. The card offers support for high frame rates (48p and 60p), 4K and stereoscopic workflows, with onboard debayering and support for add-ons through two internal slots. Corvid Ultra is part of AJA’s OEM program available to partners to incorporate into software applications or hardware systems. It has already been adopted by Quantel in Pablo Rio. AJA’s TruScale scaling engine option allows high-quality up- or down-scaling of any raster from tiny web video up to and including 4K. Corvid Ultra can be expanded with up to two TruScale cards for multistream scaling of up to 4K images. 

Angenieux Optimo Anamorphic 56-152mm 2S Zoom Lens
Thales Angenieux

Anamorphic aspect ratios are alive and well, as evidenced by this ultra-compact entry into the market. Weighing only 4.8 lb., the lens maintains an aperture of T4 across the zoom range. With its anamorphic 2x squeeze and precise construction, there is no ramping or breathing and low distortion for an anamorphic zoom. It will be available in PL or Panavision mount. This is the first of its kind in an anamorphic lens. 

4K Camera System AH-4413/AP-4414/AM-4412

Astro Design showed a series of 4K modular camera systems for broadcast. Each consists of a camera head with Micro Four Thirds lens mount, camera processing unit and master control unit. In a typical workflow, the head connects to the processing unit, which interfaces to the master control unit for setting parameters. The processing unit has four 3G-SDI outputs to 4K monitors or recording devices. Product line is designed for 4K broadcast with its 3840 x 2160 (UHD) resolution.

axle Gear
axle Video

axle Gear is an integrated rack-mount system for simplified media management and transcoding. The system integrates two quad-core 2.6 GHz Apple Mac Minis to preview, manage, catalog and transcode audio, video and still images. One of the Mac Minis runs axle’s latest software and functions as a media management computer, while the second runs a customized version of Telestream Episode Pro 6.31 for transcoding. The system can support virtually any storage and archival system and can be expanded by adding CPUs and Telestream licenses. 

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic steals the show for a second year with its announcement of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. No larger than one of today’s mirrorless DSLRs, the camera is based on a Super 16mm size sensor and offers an active Micro Four Thirds mount. It records 12-bit lossless compressed CinemaDNG raw or ProRes 422 (HQ) to SD cards at resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. Blackmagic will be implementing a QuickTime wrapper for the open standard CinemaDNG and companion codec to streamline video editing. The miniature camera boasts 13 stops of dynamic range. 

HyperDeck Studio Pro Ultra HD Update
Blackmagic Design

Via software update in May, Blackmagic’s HyperDeck Studio Pro SSD recorder/player added capabilities for Ultra HD recording in Apple ProRes 422 (HQ) format. In addition to Ultra HD recording, the 1 RU HyperDeck Studio Pro was recently upgraded with 6G-SDI connections. All models now support Ultra HD input and output using a single HDMI cable. Other features include a built-in Thunderbolt connection and full HDMI and analog in and out, including standard XLR connectors for audio and timecode. 

Price varies by camera model ($782 – $1,572)

We were impressed with Chrosziel’s innovative approach to cage design for DSLRs and compact cameras including Canon EOS C models and the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Chrosziel has designed a modular cage for each of these cameras that allows the user to assemble only the components required for a given shoot. Even shoulder mount and rods are included. Everything stores neatly in a custom fitted hard case. 

Odyssey7 and 7Q
Convergent Design
Odyssey7 $1,295, Odyssey 7Q $2,295

Convergent Design hits another home run in its line of external recording devices. This one includes an OLED monitor and rentable codecs. The 7.7” monitor on the Odyssey7 and Odyssey 7Q offers comprehensive monitoring features, such as waveform, histogram, focus assist, zebras, false color and timecode. Odyssey7/7Q ships as a monitor only, which can be upgraded to a recorder as needed. As a recorder, Odyssey7/7Q supports a wide range of recording formats, including Avid DNxHD (up to 120 fps), uncompressed HD/2K RGB 4:4:4 (up to 60p), 2K/HD raw, ARRIRAW (4:3 and 16:9), and Canon 4K raw. All recording formats are extra-cost options. In an innovative move, codecs are available either for purchase or on a rental basis. Odyssey7 is intended for single-stream support (up to 4K raw), while the 7Q adds additional bi-directional HD-SDI 3G ports. At the NAB Show, Sony and Convergent Design announced a 4K workflow from the Sony NEX-FS700 camera to the Odyssey 7Q. 

Movi M10
Freefly Systems

Movi was the other NAB show-stopper. A revolutionary product in the area of camera stabilization, Movi is a digital three-axis stabilized handheld gimbal that allows you to move your camera in new and compelling ways. It’s got a series of sensors mounted underneath the camera that provide data to the three motors on pan, tilt and roll to counter unwanted camera movement. The rig weighs about 3.5 lb. While the $15,000 price tag (includes rig, remote controller and batteries) puts the unit well out of reach for anyone but professionals, Freefly engineers are working on a less high-end version for DSLR-sized cameras that will be priced much lower. You simply had to see it in action to believe it. It’s remarkably smooth and easy to master. Also check out Freefly’s CineStar heavy lift multi-rotor helicopter with a Movi mounted beneath it. 

HERO3: Black Edition $399.99

The amazing thing about the GoPro camera is that it’s used by everyone from consumers to cinematographers. The HERO3 extends the GoPro toolset to encompass 4K shooting at 15 fps, 2.7K at 30 fps, 720p at up to 120 fps, 1440p at 48 fps and 1080p at 60 fps. Plus it’s durable, gear-mountable and waterproof to 197’. The Black Edition can be controlled remotely via free iPad app as well as by the included remote controller. GoPro was also showing two GoPro units in a stereoscopic rig shooting 2.7K 3D. Thanks to GoPro’s acquisition of Cineform, a range of codec and editing options are also available for everyone from amateurs to production houses. 

Nautilus Mic Suspension System

Leave it to K-Tek to reinvent something as basic as the microphone shock mount. With Nautilus, you can throw away your collection of rubber bands. Nautilus employs a high-impact, flexible plastic suspension system that isolates your microphone from shock and noise. The dual mounts (spiral suspension rings) may be adjusted along a track to accommodate any size mic, from a short cardioid to a medium shotgun. It is virtually indestructible and a true re-think of a very traditional product.

LV5490 Multi-Waveform Monitor
Leader Instruments
Price TBA

Leader’s LV5490 monitor supports 4K video or up to four channels of simultaneous 3G-SDI input. The 9” LCD monitor itself has a resolution of 1920 x 1080. The unit offers every possible scope and measurement tool and they are absolutely accurate. Eight channels of inputs are available: four connect to dedicated inputs accepting 3G-SDI/HD-SDI/SD-SDI, while the other four can be user-configured as inputs, HD/3G/4K pattern outputs or SDI re-clocked outputs. Two sets of HD-SDI Dual Link signal can be displayed at the same time. In SDI mode, up to four signals can be displayed simultaneously. In 4K video format mode, 3G-SDI Dual Link or Quad Link are supported. Up to four 3G-SDI Dual Link 4K video inputs or up to two 3G-SDI Quad Link 4K video inputs can be displayed (selectable). The LV5490 multi-waveform monitor is expected to be available in the third quarter. 

Monarch HD

The streaming space represents one of the most important production and distribution areas today. Matrox enables video streaming and recording in one easy-to-use device with Monarch HD, which will simultaneously stream a live event and record a Blu-ray-quality version for post-event editing. Monarch HD accepts HDMI input from any source and generates an H.264 stream in real time with either RTSP or RTMP protocols. It simultaneously records .mp4 files to SD card, USB drive or network drive. It can be controlled via computer or remotely via web browser on a mobile device.

Lazy Suzy
Matthews Studio Equipment

The Matthews Lazy Suzy is a Mitchell-based camera positioning device that rotates a camera through its articulated double-swivel platform. Mount it on a dolly, tripod, car mount platform or anywhere else you would mount a camera rig. It can support rigs up to 70 lb. Additional adapters are available, such as a Mitchell to Sachtler adapter ($450), a mini riser ($400) or a 150mm Mitchell bowl adapter ($630). 

Dragon Sensor
RED Digital Cinema
EPIC-X or EPIC-M upgrade $9,500, EPIC-M Dragon from $29,000

RED is now shipping and installing Dragon, the 6K sensor upgrade for RED EPIC and SCARLET cameras that boasts a whopping 16.5 stops of dynamic range. The Dragon sensor embodies a new color science, offering improved dynamic range and low-light capabilities. Dragon-enabled EPIC cameras can shoot 100 fps at full 6K resolution and up to 150 fps at lower resolutions. For still photography, it resolves to 19 megapixels. A major step ahead for RED. 

One Man Crew
Redrock Micro

There is nothing like a slider to add production value to a shot. The One Man Crew is a first-of-its-kind product: a motorized parabolic slider. Its drive guides the camera on precision-curved track at user-configured speeds while keeping the subject stationary in frame. One Man Crew’s heavy-duty tilt head includes precision markings and a bullseye level for precise, repeatable shots. It will mount to any camera or baseplate. The body will mount to any tripod. One Man Crew’s laser guides will determine the distance to the subject to maintain focus as it arcs. With directional control and variable speed, it is accurate and can create repeatable shots. 

True-Streak Filters
Schneider Optics
4×4 filters $380 each, 4×5.65 $530 each, 6.6×6.6 $630 each

Create dramatic streak effects simply and easily in camera. Long, brilliantly colored streaks emanate from bright lights and highlights. Schneider’s True-Streak filters are available in four strengths: 1mm (strongest), 2mm, 3mm and 4mm (most subtle); and in eight colors: blue, red, yellow, orange, green, violet, pink and clear. True-Streaks come in 4×4, 4×5.65 and 6.6×6.6 sizes ready to work with standard matteboxes. These filters are made from Schneider’s legendary glass and can be adjusted to position the vertical color streaks. True-Streaks can add a lot to a shot. 

VP83F LensHopper
Price TBA

Condenser shotgun microphone with integrated recorder that’s mounted on DSLR cameras and camcorders. Features integrated Flash recording and playback (microSD card) that enables .wav file capture at 24-bit/48 kHz sampling rate. Directional lobar polar pattern with RF immunity against device artifacting. High sensitivity and low noise. Combines Shure quality in a package highly suitable for DSLR shooters. Integrated Rycote Lyre shock mount system, foam windscreen with optional Rycote Windjammer. Runs up to 10 hours from two AA batteries. The VP83F LensHopper is expected to ship this summer. 

Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock
Sonnet Technologies
From $399.95

The Echo 15 Thunderbolt Docking Station provides all the ports anyone on a Thunderbolt system would need. Its 15 ports include four USB 3.0, one gigabit Ethernet, one FireWire 800, one headphone, one microphone, one speaker, one audio in, one pass-through Thunderbolt (for either another Thunderbolt device or an external display), two eSATA and two internal SATA (one port for included optical disc drive and one 6 Gb/s port for a user-installable 2.5” SSD or 3.5” HDD). In addition, the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock includes an 8x DVD±RW drive, or optionally a Blu-ray BD-ROM/8x DVD±RW drive with Blu-ray player software for OS X. The ultimate Thunderbolt accessory.

PMW-F5 and PMW-F55
Sony Electronics
F5 body $19,400, F55 body $34,900

The latest entries in Sony’s CineAlta line, the F5 and F55, feature 4K Super 35mm image sensors (4096 x 2160 resolution) and can accommodate Sony’s AXS-R5 4K raw recorder for expanded functionality. The F55 has an electronic global shutter to eliminate flash band and motion distortion found in rolling shutter CMOS cameras. The F5 is able to record HD and 2K internally (to SxS Pro+ cards), plus 2K and 4K 16-bit raw externally. The F55 records HD, 2K and 4K internally, with external 2K and 4K 16-bit raw output. The F55 also offers 4K monitoring via four 3G-SDI ports. The cameras are modular, with options for LCD, OLED or LCD panel viewfinders. Sony’s new XAVC codec highlights the feature set, along with MPEG-2 and HDCAM SR internal codecs.

VS4-Episode Turnkey Live Video Streaming Systems
Telestream and Matrox
Starts at $5,000

Collaboration between two vendors with pre-existing products often yields innovative and award-worthy solutions. Such is the case with Matrox and Telestream teaming to create a Windows-based live streaming production solution. The Matrox VS4 is a PCIe card with four SDI inputs accepting SD and HD resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. It is directly integrated with Wirecast, Telestream’s time-proven live production streaming software. Wirecast allows switching between multiple live and stored inputs, keying, virtual sets, numerous templates and live titling. Content can be streamed at resolutions up to 1080p and the feed can be saved in QT H.264, Windows Media or Adobe Flash with up to eight channels of embedded audio. The VS4 also allows ISO recording of each camera feed. The VS4-Episode combination is available from certified system builder partners in a turnkey system that starts at $5,000.


A real boon for cameras up to 3 lb., Stealthy gives operators the ability to switch between operating modes: tabletop tripod, three-point shooter, camera stabilizer, short monopod and long monopod. (Long 6’ monopod sold separately.) This lightweight stabilizer (1.7 lb.) is easy to balance and it switches very easily between modes. And when you’re done, it folds very compactly and clips to your belt. 

Vision blueBridge
Expected price around $100

This very simple accessory works with any of the pan and tilt heads in the Vision blue range to extend the payload range, making them accessible to lower-weight cameras so that operators need just one tripod system. Simply speaking, it is a tripod mount extender that attaches between camera and tripod plate to raise the camera above the tripod platform. With the additional offset of the payload (45mm), the counterbalance system exerts more output per unit weight of payload, and the total balance capability of the pan and tilt head is shifted downward. Sometimes simple can solve a complex issue. 

Phantom Flex4K
Vision Research
From $109,000

You might not be buying one of these, but you certainly might rent one if your production calls for high resolution, high frame rate capture. With its wide dynamic range and Super 35mm-sized native 4K sensor, the Flex4K can handle resolutions up to 4K. At its full acquisition resolution (4096 x 2304), the camera is capable of recording from 24 to more than 900 fps. It’s possible to record up to 1,000 fps at 4K resolution of 4096 x 2160, up to 2,000 fps when windowed down to 1920 x 1080, and over 3,000 fps at 1280 x 720. For the first time on a Phantom, the camera can be set to write either raw or compressed files directly to the CineMag IV drive. A third workflow option is recording the HD-SDI video playback with a field recorder for 4:4:4 1080p or 4:2:2 4K video via the two 3G-SDI outputs. Greatly simplified workflow over earlier Phantom models. Expected to ship in late 2013.