This year, at the National Association of Broadcasters 2010 Conference (NAB Show), expectations were met and in some cases exceeded.
This year's conference was the largest in NAB history, with the total attendance reaching 88,044. Almost 24,000 of those were international attendees, representing 156 countries. The Videomaker staff was also in attendance, representing the curious minds of our readers. Our quest? To bring you the latest on the new gear hitting the streets. Here's what we found:
The AG-AF100 AVCCAM HD camcorder is certainly capable of changing the face of digital cinematography. Incorporating a 4/3-inch, 16:9 MOS imager, the camcorder records at 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p and features two XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability. The shallow depth of field and wider field of view mimics the much sought-after look of 35mm movie cameras and video DSLRs. The AF100 maintains flexibility and cost-effectiveness by utilizing an increasing number of industry-standard 4/3-inch lenses, filters and adaptors.
Garret Brown, inventor of the original Steadicam, wowed us again this year with his newest creation, the Steadicam Tango. The Tango provides the same smooth shooting as previous Steadicam models, while introducing a boom capable of nine feet of elevation, a 360-degree pan and 90-degree tilt. The boom attaches to a Steadicam vest system and is controlled from the base sled, making it comfortable and easy to control. The all-mechanical construction allows for a lighter rig, while enabling the user to maneuver quietly. Availability and pricing of the Tango have yet to be announced.
Petrol Bags Cambio
Is it a bag or a camera support? It's both, actually. Petrol Bags' newest lightweight camera case, the Cambio, is the first of its kind. Doubling as a camera support system for small video cameras, the Cambio provides an alternative to toting around bulky tripods and multiple bags, while providing plenty of room for gear and accessories. The expandable nickel-plated center steel column supports up to 9.9 pounds and is braced by an extending aluminum double-bar tube leg, allowing users to get a steady shot no matter where they travel.
Sony Creative Software Vegas Pro 9.0d
Vegas Pro 9.0d is the latest update in Sony's Vegas Pro nonlinear editing line and provides the tools necessary for video and broadcast. Vegas Pro 9.0d boasts exceptional effects processing, audio support and a full complement of editorial tools, while offering broad format support. The Vegas Pro collection includes support for closed captioning, multilayer Adobe Photoshop Documents (PSD), enhanced device explorer, timeline burning to DVD and PreSonus FaderPort control surface.
Litepanels Sola Fresnels
Litepanels is shining a new light in the world of production with its Sola Fresnels. Solas are daylight-balanced, provide the control and single-shadow properties that make the Fresnel light so popular and draw 90% less power than conventional tungsten lights. The Sola Fresnels also feature instant dimming with no noticeable color shift, as well as consistent flicker-free output, even as the battery voltage goes down. Solas are available in three models: Sola6 and Sola12, which provide motorized focus and dimming by touch screen as well as by remote control. And finally, the battery-powered SolaENG, which is designed for both on-camera and off-camera mounting.
When it comes to tripods, Manfrotto is known for bringing its best to the playing field, and the 504HD is no different. The 504HD features Manfrotto's revolutionary Bridging Technology. The bridge enhances performance by improving rigidity, reducing the weight of the head and protecting the PAN friction control dial from knocks. The adjustable Fluid Drag System and the ball bearings in the PAN axis rotation unit allow for smooth movements that are free of vibrations. The 504HD can support up to 16.3 pounds, allowing it to be used with a wide variety of camera equipment.
Anton/Bauer Tandem 150 Modular Power System
Shooting on location can be problematic if there isn't a source of power to recharge your batteries. Fortunately, with the Tandem 150 Modular Power System, all that is required to keep your gear juiced is a car-charged power supply or, even better, the sun. The Tandem 150 Modular Power System supplies the camera with 100-240 volts of DC power while simultaneously charging the battery. The system is fully automatic, so it will automatically stop charging and perform solely as a 150-watt power supply, should the power draw exceed 75 watts.
Canon has opened its doors to the world of professional tapeless HD camcorders with one of its newest additions: the XF300. The XF300 is capable of recording native 1920x1080 video onto Compact Flash (CF) cards, supporting UDMA CF cards, and it features hot-swappable dual card slots. The camcorder includes 3-CMOS image sensors, uses an MPEG-2 4:2:2 50Mbps codec (Canon XF Codec) and the open-source Material eXchange Format (MXF) File Wrapper in order to maximize its compatibility.
Adobe's Creative Suite 5 brings an array of new creative tools to the table, while focusing on the enhancement of workflow, interactivity and performance. New to the suite is the robust under-the-hood processing using native 64-bit support in Premiere Pro, After Effects and Photoshop Extended, and the much-touted Mercury Playback Engine in Premiere Pro. This makes CS5 unbelievably fast. Editors can play back larger files without hiccups and can work in real time using formats from DV to 4K. In addition, CS5 has expanded support for many of the new tapeless media on the market, including DSLR video formats. For a full breakdown of features, read our Adobe CS5 review.
Avid Media Composer 5
New to Avid's Media Composer 5 is Smart Tool, a feature that allows for drag-and-drop editing and trimming for direct manipulation of the video and audio clips in the timeline. Editors can now also apply hundreds of real-time audio effects with support for Real-Time Audio Suite audio plug-ins. In addition, Avid Media Access (AMA) now has native support for QuickTime, RED, the new Canon XF codec and XDCAM proxies, and it allows editors to work with the AVCHD format.
Perhaps the best thing about Avid is the incredible media management system. Avid is striving to change customer business models' to an "integrated media enterprise", which is an open framework for businesses to address the rapid changes in the media industry, and features Avid's Interplay enterprise media asset management system at the heart of this new framework. As the world gets more complicated, files are stored anywhere and everywhere. Lucky for us, Avid keeps acute details of the metadata, allowing us to stay organized with little effort.
The iVDR VC102 is Maxell's newest Direct-to-Disk Video Capture Device. The iVDR works by converting the camcorder's output into a non-linear editing format, while simultaneously recording the camera's native format. The iVDR is compatible with a wide variety of camcorders and formats and features storage capacities up to 500GB or up to 9 hours of high-definition recording time (38 hours for DV and HDV).
Varizoom Cinema Pro Jr.
A scaled-down descendent of the original Cinema Pro, Varizoom's Cinema Pro Jr. boasts a more affordable, lighter-duty motion control system without lacking in electromechanical performance. The Cinema Pro Jr. features a focus knob, joystick control of pans, tilts and zooms at a maximum speed of 110-120 degrees per second, as well as programmable speeds, motion limits and smoothing for each motor. The 12-pound pan and tilt head supports up to 35 pounds and allows for numerous upgrades and accessories, making it great for jibs, cranes, mobile applications and other motion control needs.
Wacom Cintiq 21UX
Wacom's new interactive pen display, the Cintiq 21UX, allows users to work directly on the surface of its 21.3-inch LCD screen. Additionally, the 1600x 1200-pixel resolution display can be color-calibrated to match other displays. The Cintiq 21UX features 16 customizable ExpressKeys, which provide access to keyboard shortcuts and modifier keys, and the Grip Pen has programmable side switches, which allow users to place the most common functions at their fingertips. The display can recline from 10 to 65 degrees, lie flat and rotate 180 degrees in either direction, allowing users to find their most comfortable editing position.
Kata, ABS-HD & ABS-HDV
Kata's Air Bag System (ABS) consists of two sizes: the ABS-HD and the ABS-HDV. The inflatable/deflatable feature of the camera cases make them lightweight and extremely compact. The cases can be folded and stored in a pouch until ready to use, making them ideal for those on the go. Kata estimates the time to inflate being roughly one minute.
In addition to partnering with Adobe on the 64-bit Mercury engine, nVidia is coming up with its own soup-to-nuts 3D workflow that will be a flexible solution from ingest to delivery and everything in-between. Called the Quadro Video Pipeline, the platform has full support for stereoscopic 3D production workflows.
Blackmagic was showing off some clean solutions for the plethora of formats and connections some video editors have to contend with. The Pocket UltraScope is a small portable SDI waveform monitor that works as a mini field monitor and includes histograms, waveforms and scopes of all kinds. The Intensity Shuttle is a slim tool with inputs for connecting USB 3.0 computers to HDMI 1.3, component, composite and S-video capture and playback at full 10-bit video quality.
Final Draft version 9
Like Avid, Final Draft understands the power of metadata and has built its scriptwriting software around the idea that no detail is too small to include. Version 8 is available now, but version 9 will be launching soon and will include all media-based sharing, SAS connectivity and hosted server platform. Final Draft isn't just scriptwriting software; it's a sharable server solution where you can write your script in Tulsa, Oklahoma; your co-writer can edit it in Bangor, Maine; and your editor can work from it in Hollywood. To learn more read our Final Draft version 9 review.
Singular Software PluralEyes
We discovered PluralEyes just recently and were quite impressed with its magic. PluralEyes is a great synchronization tool that automatically matches up the clips from two or more cameras through audio analysis, even if the shooter on the second camera shut off the camera several times during the shoot. For anyone who has had to synch broken audio up frame-by-frame the old-fashioned way, this saves a lot of time. Originally only available for Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas Pro, PluralEyes now supports Adobe Premiere Pro.
Digital Anarchy The Beauty Box
Another third-party plug-in we found intriguing was by Digital Anarchy. The Beauty Box plug-in is an easy-to-use skin softening program that doesn't erase all skin flaws, just softens them a bit, resulting in a more natural look. Now that everyone is shooting in high definition, every flaw on every face shows. Fortunately, there's no longer a need to shudder when a camera is pointed your way - as long as the editors have a product like Beauty Box in their kit.
If you've ever had to track and rotoscope a complex video scene, you'll be pleased to know that Mocha v2 now allows you to do it with ease. Mocha v2 comes bundled with many editing programs, but you can also buy it alone or upgrade for even more control. Used in the recent Alice in Wonderland, Shutter Island, Invictus and Iron Man 2 movies, the program is professional software that even the most budget-conscious editor can afford.
Kata, Pro-Light Resource-61
As video DSLRs become increasingly popular in the field of videography, the demand for suitable transportation and storage of these cameras has grown. The Pro-Light Resource-61 is Kata's answer to that need. Keeping durability and weight in mind, the Pro-Light Resource-61 shoulder bag consists of RipStop fabrics, meshes, Aeriform foams, honeycomb panels and spider-webbing straps. Adjustable/removable pouches and dividers ensure a storage space that suits the user's individual needs. Additional features include tripod connecting straps, a double-sided Elements Cover for additional protection against the weather, cable management buckle, loop connectors and a place to carry up to a 15.4" laptop.
Boris FX Continuum Complete 7
Boris FX has amped up its entire line to get it ready for the new 64-bit platform. The 64-bit processing allows Boris FX to increase performance and the amount of memory that can be used for image processing. Boris FX box set is available for both Windows and Macintosh systems.
Vision Research Phantom v640
3D movies have won the hearts of millions, and yet there are still those that have resisted 3D's charm. Vision Research has made it clear that resistance is futile, with its high-speed camera, the Phantom v640. The Phantom v640 boasts a remarkable 1,500 frames per second at the maximum resolution setting of 2560x1600, with the capability to record up to 300,000 frames per second at lower resolutions. The camera is equipped with a 4-megapixel sensor, while supplying greater than 6-gigapixel-per-second throughput. By joining two of the single lens cameras, Vision Research was able to create stunning 3D video.
Matrox MX02 Mini
The MX02 Mini is small and lightweight, making it great for field recording. It uses HDMI, RCA, S-video, composite and analog output, and you'll be able to turn your HDMI screen into a true video monitor with color calibration. Best of all, Avid is working with Matrox for its editing solutions, which will allow users to combine Avid Media Composer with the Matrox MX02 Mini for a fully professional suite. To learn more read our Matrox MX02 Mini review.
The End of Our Journey
Though a lot of the attention at the NAB conference was aimed at video DSLRs and, of course, 3D, there were plenty of other gems to be found along the way. With so many groundbreaking products to soak in, we were reminded of just how much we depend on the innovativeness of others to do our jobs as videographers. Thankful and back at home now, resting our aching feet, we're already dreaming of what next year may bring.
Julie Babcock is Videomaker's Associate Multi-Media Editor.