NAB Show 2012: A First Time Perspective

24Apr12

Last week was the 2012 NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was my first time at the show and all I can say is… wow… I’ve been to conventions, and I’ve been around massive amounts of gear, but this just blew my mind. I was on the show floor for a grand total of almost 20 hours… and I barely had enough time to get through one of the three halls.

If you’ve never been, the show is divided into three sections: broadcast, production, and post-production. As you can imagine, I spent most of my time in the production hall. I also spent some time in the post hall looking at Black Magic Design’s new camera (I’ll cover that later), Adobe (CS6), Maxon (C4D), and RED. I saw so many cool new things that it would be impossible for me to cover them all. But, Jared Abrams and the Wide Open Camera (wideopencamera.com) crew did just that. You can check their coverage on Vimeo here: vimeo.com.

My Top 10 from NAB

Undoubtedly the rest of the year is going to be an expensive one for me because there is so much cool shit coming out. And I want it all. But some of the things I saw got me moving a little more than others. Here’s my Top 10 list (in order of how excited I am) from this year’s NAB Show. 

1) Adobe CS6: Adobe was showing off the latest in their Creative Suite series, and CS6 (adobe.com) is absolutely stunning. For me, making the jump from CS4, is a necessity. The new feature that Adobe is bringing to the suite are like an orgasm of post-production and graphic splendor. More compatibility, more user-friendly, and cloud services. Anyone who does their own editing should really think about picking up this version of the suite. BTW: I’ve heard rumors (from the Adobe guy I talked to) that there are free upgrades for those currently on CS5.5.

2) Jag35/ D-Focus Systems Gear: One of my go-to camera support companies is Jag35 (jag35.com). They also stock some of the stuff from D-Focus System (dfocussystem.com). Their joint booth at the show was one of the more exciting ones I saw. Jag35 was showing off their Wireless Follow Focus V2 and the Knurled Handles; both of which I’m going to purchase in the next year. Jag’s WFF is one of the cheapest ones on the market, but is still made with the same quality of all of Jag’s gear. And the Knurled Handles are going to add a lot of stability and control to anyone using their rigs. No more foam handles!

Run by Dave Aldrich (@designbydave), D-Focus System, has the cheapest quality Follow Focus and  Matte Box. The one problem I’ve had with the D-Matte (dfocussystem.com/dmatte) is that it doesn’t have a swing-away gate for easy lens changes. Well, that problem is soon to be fixed. And the added bonus is that I won’t have to purchase a whole new matte box, I can just get the upgrade kit. It hasn’t been released yet, but I’m really excited about getting my hands on it.

3) Zacuto Recoil Rig/ Tornado Focus Grip: My other go-to camera rig company is Zacuto (zacuto.com). They’ve got a LOT of new things in the works. On the simple side of things, new ratchet knobs allow for tightening of rods and mounts in tight spots. On the more complex end, they’ve updated their rod based shoulder support with a new shoulder pad that can adjust the angle to make it more comfortable. They’ve also created the Tornado Focus Grip. The Tornado puts a focus controller on the handle; adding balance to the rig by placing the controller lower, rather than having to have your hand on the follow focus.

Zacuto has also entered the LED lighting battle with their new PlaZma Z-Light. This new light is only about a 1/2″ thick and throws a soft light. What’s really interesting about the Z-Light is that instead of being made of multiple LED lights, it is one single LED panel. This allows the light to have plenty of throw, without creating any super harsh shadows.

4) Small HD DP7If you’ve been following my blog at all (as in, my last post (see it here)) you’ll remember that I’ve recently fallen in love with my Small HD DP4/EVF combo. Well, this year at NAB Small HD (smallhd.com) took home the Best Monitor Solution Award for their new DP7 Pro monitors. And for good reason. The DP7′s are quite phenomenal. They combine the ease and style of the other Small HD monitors with pro inputs and outputs and resolution and color that will blow your mind. There are two versions of the monitor: a 720 OLED, and a 1000nit bright screen. The DP7 line should be released in Fall of this year.

5) Ikan Corp. Light KitWhile Ikan (ikancorp.com) wasn’t showing anything super new as far as lighting, I’m still really excited about what I saw. I spent a lot of time at the Ikan booth talking to one of the reps there about lighting packages, and I pulled the trigger on purchasing one. It’s nothing fancy, just a couple LED panel lights, but this represents a big step forward in my gear kit/ production value. It means that I can step away from clamp lighting, and move towards a softer light with more throw.

One thing that Ikan was showing that is brand spanking new is their Wireless Director’s Monitor. This thing is sweet. If I had even more cash to burn, this would be towards the top of my list.

6) Autodesk Smoke: If you’ve spent any amount of time in the post-production world, then you’ve no doubt heard of Autodesk Smoke (autodesk.com). If you’ve spent any time trying to use Smoke, then you’ve seen how horrible the UI was. Well, in the new version, Smoke 2013, that’s all changed. The new interface is well laid out, graphic based, and very user-friendly. In past versions, even simple techniques took three or for steps to complete. Now it takes no more than 2. The tool call up system is intuitive, and the overall layout of the program is somewhere between FCP, Premiere, and Shake. What’s the best part of the new Smoke? It’s only $36. And yes, I wrote that correctly. The new base price of Smoke is set so low so that more people can get their hands on it. When it gets released, I’ll be one of the first to jump on it.

7) Black Magic Design Cinema CameraBlack Magic Design (blackmagicdesign.com) was one of, if not THE, biggest hits of this year’s NAB Show. BMD, who is mostly known for their playback, capturing, and converting devices, rocked the show floor Monday morning when they unveiled their new Cinema Camera (blackmagicdesign.com/cinemacamera). This marks BMD’s first forray into the camera world. Big whoop, right? Just another camera? Wrong! The Cinema Camera is a 2.5K resolution camera with 3G-SDI out, a touchscreen control menu, and promises a dynamic range of 13 stops. The other big-ticket when purchasing the Cinema Camera is that BMD is including DaVinci Resolve, their top-of-the-line color correction platform. The camera, with Resolve, will run you just under $3k. Yes, that’s a 2.5K camera for under $3000. It’s obvious why this camera has everyone talking.

And, just to be a naysayer, here’s a list of some potential downfalls:
-Audio inputs through 1/4″ jacks, not XLR.
-Form factor would make this camera difficult to maneuver with.
-The sensor is a little smaller than a Micro 4/3 chip.

Still an awesome camera, at a great price point. I’m excited to see what comes out of this product once it launches.

8) Canon 1D-C DSLR: This seems to be the year of 4K, and Canon (canon.com/eos1dc) is one of the major players in the game. Their booths at every convention are always a gathering place for the digital revolution, and their booth at NAB was no different. They had their whole range of cameras on display, but the one that I was most interested in was the EOS 1D-C. Imagine 4K resolution in the body of a DSLR. That’s what this camera is. It’s got all the form factor (easy maneuverability, high adaptability) of a DSLR with the resolution of higher end 4K imagers. 

I could go on and on about how the 1D-c looks amazing. And has all the latitude you would expect of a Canon DSLR. And how magnificent it looks. I got to see Shane Hurlbut’s (hurlbutvisuals.com) “The Ticket.” It was phenomenal. So I’ll let his posts tell you more about it:

The Next Gen in Digital Film Capture: Canon’s 4K 1DC

Looking Inside the Canon1DC DSLR 4K Capture Project “The Ticket”

9) Letus Direct Double HelixWhile were on the subject of Shane Hurlbut, we might as well talk about Letus Direct (letusdirect.com) right now. Shane has previously teamed up with Letus to create the Master Cinema Series of camera support. Awesome rigs. But Letus had something at the show that made me do a double-take: the Double Helix. So what is it? In short, it’s a mechanism with a crank (or motor controlled) device that lets you spin a camera horizontally. While the idea of the Double Helix isn’t anything new, Letus has made the use of the style lightweight and relatively cheep. It’s definitely something to keep an eye out for in the coming months.

10) TS3Cine Camera2012 is not only the year of 4K, but it is also the year of slow motion video. There were plenty of options on the show floor that had slow motion options, but the TS3Cine Camera (ts3cine.com) is hands-down the one I’m most excited about. 1280X1024 resolution, 1600 ISO, and 500 frames per second make this camera a powerhouse. It can also reach up to 20,000 FPS in reduced resolutions. I’ve seen some of the footage that this camera creates, and the verdict is this: I WANT ONE! It’s beautiful, light weight, and handles high frame rates with ease.

Example Video:






There was so much great gear and so many amazing talks at NAB this year. I wasn’t able to see everything, and I almost wasn’t able to handle what little I was able to see.  My list doesn’t even talk about RED, Arri, Red Rock, Manfrotto, Sactler, AJA, Grass Valley, Maxon… the list of vendors is endless.

The annual NAB Show in Las Vegas, in short, is a giant nerd-gasm of film and television gear. It is the must-see convention for anyone in the industry. As a first timer, I was completely overwhelmed; but I managed to make it through. And I even picked up a few new friends in the process. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year as I try to acquire/use as much of the new gear as possible. And I can’t wait for next year’s show.

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