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Best of Show: The Tools and Technologies Recognized by Digital Video at the 2016 NAB Show

Here are the 2016 winners of our annual Best of Show awards.

Accelerated Media Technologies

CID-Passport

The FCC has mandated that all satellite transmissions carry a carrier ID as of September 2016. There are a number of carrier ID modulators on the market, but many of them have limited support for legacy encoders and cost significantly more than the $6,000 price point of the CID-Passport. Accelerated Media Technologies in partnership with TeamCast has developed this low-cost and full-featured CID modulator that is compatible with all legacy encoders. CID-Passport allows broadcasters to comply with the requirement with a minimal financial investment and with assurances that whatever signal is fed into it will work.

Amimon

CONNEX Mini HD Wireless Transmitter

CONNEX Mini is the first product line extension of Amimon’s CONNEX transmission solution specifically designed for aerial video production applications on UAV platforms. The transmitter unit, which mounts on the UAV, weighs 1.4 ounces, and the receiver, which may be mounted on the UAV remote control, weighs 5 ounces. The unit delivers 1080p HD video at 60 fps, zero latency, a range of 1,600 feet, AES-128 encryption and multicast reception for up to four receivers. CONNEX Mini also provides telemetry and control solutions for S.Bus, Can-Bus and PPM drone controllers, and it features an HDMI video interface on the receiver. MSRP of this breakthrough remote HD transmitter is $1,299.

Ardis Technologies

microDDP 10 GbE SAN

The tremendous amount of data generated by higher resolutions and higher bit rate codecs demands not just fast storage but storage solutions that can be shared within a workgroup. Furthermore, field production workflows that can actually store large amounts of data are far more efficient than just dumping a load of memory cards at the production facility. The Ardis microDDP is a portable Ethernet SAN storage system with capacity for eight 1 TB or eight 2 TB SSDs in RAID 5 with an effective capacity of 7 or 14 TB. It has dual 1 GbE and dual 10 GbE ports for a total bandwidth of up to 2.2 GB/s. This is a unique system for teams ingesting and editing remotely, in a portable 1U package that weighs 11 pounds. As an ideal remote solution, our editors easily agreed on this award.

Aspera

FASPstream Software for Live and Near-Live Video Streaming

Far too many streamed events experience failure due to internet connectivity issues. The bandwidth may be insufficient or, as happens more frequently, fluctuations in connection speed and dependability issues interrupt live streams or even bring the stream to a crashing halt. Traditional long-distance transmission modes such as satellite and fiber are often too expensive or just generally not practical. Aspera’s FASPstream software is an open video transport solution for glitch-free live streaming of broadcast-quality video over commodity internet WANs. This turnkey application uses the FASP bulk data protocol to transport any live video source and ensures timely arrival independent of network and round-trip delay and packet loss.

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Duplicator 4K

Many of us remember the stacks of VHS decks in a back room and a controller grinding out copies of tapes. Jump ahead to 2016 and the need for large-scale duplication remains, even as we struggle to deliver 4K. Blackmagic Design deserves an award for even conceiving of a product that is today’s version of the mass duplicator. Weddings, sports, concerts and other live events can be recorded, edited and then duplicated for the masses with this unit, which features 12G-SDI connections, a real-time H.265 encoder and 25 built-in SD card recorders. It can record UHD video at up to 60 fps. For larger events, multiple duplicators can be stacked using the SDI loop-through and RS-422 deck control. One hour of a UHD program encoded to H.265 will fit onto an 8 GB SD card.

Blackmagic Design

Blackmagic Video Assist 4K

There are a number of monitor-recorders on the market—Blackmagic Design even introduced a 1080 Video Assist at the 2015 NAB Show. For 2016, Blackmagic has introduced a portable, all-in-one monitor and video recorder that can be used to add professional recording and monitoring to any SDI or HDMI camera. Video Assist 4K features a bright, 7-inch, 1920 x 1200 touchscreen monitor; two high-speed recorders for nonstop HD and UHD recording to inexpensive SD cards (up to 2160p30); and true XLR audio inputs—all for $895. Files are saved as 10-bit 4:2:2 video in either ProRes or DNxHD formats. Like most of Blackmagic’s products, Video Assist 4K shatters price points and offers innovative and useful features. It is an ideal companion to today’s DSLR, mirrorless or small-form-factor video cameras.

Carl Zeiss

Zeiss Milvus Lens Set

Zeiss has been designing a number of full-frame and APS-C prime lens sets in a variety of mounts. While developed primarily for still photography, Zeiss’ new lenses work equally well with video cameras. The Milvus line is a manual focus, manual aperture, full-frame collection in 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm focal lengths. We were impressed with its high contrast rendition and stray light rejection. These features combine with solid construction to make lenses that are nonetheless affordable and accessible.

Dana Dolly

Dana Mover Robotic Dolly and Pan System

Dana Dolly is the kind of company we like to reward. It was founded by a cinematographer who was looking for an inexpensive and portable slider system and wound up having to invent one. The resulting product, also called Dana Dolly, is a slider with soft polyurethane wheels that can be run on garden-variety PVC or metal rails supported by tripod legs or baby stands. This year’s innovation is Dana Mover, a robotic dolly and pan controller that attaches to any Dana Dolly. The operator can control speed and range of slider movement remotely, and the automated movement keeps the subject in the center of the field. We felt this innovation worthy of our award.

Flanders Scientific

BoxIO Dual Channel LUT Box

Raw and log workflows are standard on many sets, but very few directors and producers want to view log footage. There are a number of on-set LUT products on the market, but Flanders Scientific’s BoxIO goes a bit further. This color management device offers simultaneous support of 3D and 1D LUTs, clean loop-throughs, real-time LUT update capability for use with on-set grading applications, and frame capture support. BoxIO is able to operate in dual channel mode, allowing separate looks to be distributed to video village and the DP from a single LUT box. There is so much to this product we haven’t mentioned, including the price, which is less than $1,200.

JVCKENWOOD

GY-HM200SP Sports Production Streaming Camcorder

JVC has established itself as a leader in cameras that stream directly to the internet. This streaming offering is targeted to sports production with the addition of a professional score overlay and game clock—achieved without an external character generator or switcher. Score entry is via remote smartphone or tablet app. Camera features include integrated 12x lens, 120 fps HD recording for slow-motion analysis, and advanced IP remote control and viewing. This is not another me-too product and we felt it worthy of an award for its ability to bring live sports production to a point that schools and even owner-operators can afford.

Kino Flo Lighting Systems

Diva-Lite LED 20/30 DMX

This is not just another LED fixture or just another manufacturer putting out an LED product. The 36-inch Diva-Lite 30 and 22-inch Diva-Lite 20 softlight systems feature dial-in variable color temperature control, full-range dimming, programmable 2,700°K to 6,500°K presets and DMX wireless capability. Diva-Lite LED’s soft white light doesn’t flicker or shift color temperature when dimmed. Light levels are consistent throughout the Kelvin range and CRI exceeds 95. The fixtures, which draw less than 1 amp, even at a full 150 watts, feature a green/magenta control to match the spectral sensitivity curves of the most popular cameras and other light sources on the set.

Miller Camera Support

arrowX Fluid Head Series

Available in three sizes—arrowX 3, arrowX 5 and arrowX 7—these fluid heads are distinguished from the pack by their enhanced balancing and counterbalancing designs. Miller designed the series specifically for the on-the-go broadcaster or videographer who needs to make quick adjustments to capture the perfect shot. Each model offers Miller’s new CB PLUS sequential counterbalance design, which features eight large counterbalance steps that allow users to get to their needed position efficiently. We were impressed at how quickly a camera could be mounted to the head and then balanced. The range covers applications from run-and-gun ENG and EFP (arrowX 3, payload of 2.2-41.8 lb.) to in-studio and OB (arrowX 7, 13.2-55.1 lb.).

Planar

Leyard TW Series LED Video Wall

Just one look at the Leyard video wall made us all say “award.” It is hard to imagine that a video wall could look so crisp, have such a high contrast ratio and be so uniform in its appearance. This line of fine-pitch LED video walls is architected to support the highest pixel density and deliver benefits unique to its “flat panel” design including a 16:9 form factor optimized for the most popular high resolution standards, ease of installation and service, and outstanding flatness and uniformity. A little internal magic produces deep blacks that one would never have imagined an LED display could produce. This is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” products.

Redrock Micro

Eclipse

Eclipse is a set of four interconnected products—Halo Solo focus tracker; Orbit monitor gimbal; Atlas motors for focus, iris and zoom controls; and Navigator Command Module grip controller—aimed at making solo operators self-sufficient and larger crews even more capable. The solution works especially well on gimbals and UAV aerial production platforms. Halo, the package’s ultrasonic focus tracker, debuted last year. Redrock always has an innovative product each NAB Show. Eclipse unifies a series of innovations Redrock has made over the years to create a mature system.

RUSHWORKS

PTX Universal PanTilt Head

RUSHWORKS’ PTX Universal PanTilt Head supports the increasing use of smaller cameras that support LANC control. In addition to control of pan/tilt, zoom, focus, iris and record start/stop, however, PTX uniquely adds full DMX control. Lighting directors and scene designers are now able to include video cameras in their DMX universes, using DMX consoles to block shots using one or more cameras in their scene definitions. They can ISO-record one or more cameras for post-event editing, and can send the video outputs to IMAG displays and/or incorporate them into their media server outputs. The fixture is compatible with both PTX and PTZ protocols. This is about the most versatile pan/tilt head we have seen.

SmallHD

SmallHDR Production Monitors

With SmallHDR, SmallHD introduces a line of daylight-viewable full-size production monitors. More importantly, SmallHDR is the industry’s first affordable HDR monitor. Its 10-bit IPS LCD display is breathtaking, with brightness up to 2,000 nits, making these monitors perfect for outdoor field production units. The 24- and 32-inch models offer true HDR rendering for expanded color gamut, contrast and dynamic range. List prices are $3,999 for 17-inch, $5,499 for 24-inch and $7,999 for 32-inch models. There is absolutely no other product at this price point that can display HDR, and it will be of tremendous value in bringing the possibilities of HDR production to a far wider market.

Softpanels

Softpanels LED Lights with Autocolor

This line of LED soft lights actually began as a Kickstarter project that quickly exceeded its funding goals. The innovation here is that each fixture includes a built-in digital color meter for precise control of color temperature. With Autocolor color-matching technology, the light meter in a Softpanels unit can read the ambient color conditions and then exactly match its output to the scene’s ambient light. There is also a skin tone enhancer that can be invoked manually. In addition to the automatic options, Softpanels offers a Precise Manual Color mode, where the onboard color meter continuously monitors and displays the current color temperature. This product goes beyond any LED on the market.

Sony Electronics

PVM-X550 55-Inch 4K OLED Client Monitor

This monitor is based on the same technology as in the TRIMASTER EL series of broadcast reference monitors, which delivers professional-quality black performance, precise color reproduction, quick pixel response and accurate signal processing. While not a high-end reference monitor, it can nonetheless be used for editing and color grading owing to its accuracy. The X550 can accommodate and display four independent input signals at a time, allowing simultaneous live viewing of, for example, an S-Log3 original picture and SDR (Rec. 709), 4K SDR and 4K HDR signals. The PVM-X550 supports High Dynamic Range mode and a wide color gamut supporting DCI-P3 and most of the ITU-R BT.2020 standard. List price of this 4K OLED picture monitor with quad view is $27,810.

Teradek

Sphere

Virtual and augmented reality products were well represented at this year’s NAB Show. This product from Teradek combines a four-channel H.264 encoder and a companion iOS app to enable real-time VR monitoring and live streaming on iOS devices. The four-channel H.264 encoder compresses video up to 1080p30 and streams it over Wi-Fi to up to three iOS devices on the same network. Users can monitor or record the live VR footage on their iOS device and then upload the content to a 360° online video platform. The companion Sphere iOS application on the end user’s iOS device stitches and processes the four compressed feeds into a 4K image (four 1080 feeds combined into one 4K video). There are three viewing formats: a 2D panoramic view, a Google Cardboard mode and a motion control (magic window) immersive view. List price of the Sphere encoder is $3,000.

Thinklogical

Uncompressed TLX CATx Product Line

With TLX, Thinklogical has leveraged its expertise in fiber optic extension and switching to develop a high-bandwidth (60 Gb/s) hybrid signal transmission architecture supporting both standard CATx copper network cabling and fiber. This solution provides a 100 percent uncompressed signal path on CATx cabling with minimal signal latency, offering precise transmission of 4K resolution video (up to 4096 x 2160 resolution, 60 Hz frame rate, 4:4:4 color depth) with no visual artifacts, jitter or lost frames, and instantaneous computer peripheral responsiveness. This uncompressed TLX CATx product line includes video and KVM extenders and a range of matrix switches from 12 to 640 ports. It allows digital signal extension of up to 80 km over fiber or 100 meters over CAT 6a.

Zacuto

Zacuto Gratical Eye

Gratical Eye, the smallest and lightest model in Zacuto’s Micro OLED EVF line, weighs less than 1 pound and fits easily in the palm of your hand. Like its bigger siblings Gratical HD and Gratical X, Gratical Eye has a 0.61-inch diagonal display with 5.4 million pixels that delivers vivid, high contrast and razor sharp images. Gratical Eye has a 2-pin LEMO power jack, SDI input and external tally light. With a full collection of scopes and the ability to load user LUTs, this may be the best viewfinder you’ve ever used. List price is $1,950.

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