An Overview of the Annual National Associations of Broadcasters Tradeshow in Las Vegas.
NAB is one of those few times when acting like a kid in a candy shop is appropriate. With thousands of new and innovative high-end cameras, computers, lights, jibs, dollies, and accessories to check out, even the most stoic attendees can find it hard to act their age. To help you sort through the bevy of new gear without losing the last vestiges of your respect, the Videomaker staff boldly undertook the task of scouring the show floor's 785,000 square feet of space for cool products that we thought you would love.
This year, we decided to award several products with a "Best of NAB" award that we believe are a perfect fit to our readership - due to pricing, features or functionality. Those "Best of" products are stamped with our this icon to the right. To read more about those and why we picked them, see our Best of NAB blog at Videomaker NAB 2011 Awards Announced.
Best of NAB 2011 - Here's a look at some of the products that we loved the best:
BEST CAMERA SUPPORT
Redrock micro3D Rig
Though 3D camcorders are a great way to capture an easy 3D video, a 3D rig will give you greater flexibility and control over your image. Redrock micro presents a sleek-looking side-by-side rig, the micro3D rig, designed for smaller format cameras that are capable of professional 3D. The precision-machined metal rig includes easily adjustable X, Y, Z calibration, the ability to set convergence and the interaxial distance. All measurements are clearly marked on the rig in millimeters for an accurate setting of each camera. The micro3D rig comes standard with an 18-inch bar. A 36-inch bar is also available.
BEST HARD DRIVE
LaCie Little Big Disk Hard Drive
Featuring Thunderbolt technology and storage capacities up to 1TB the LaCie Little Big Disk brings users extremely fast data transfer rates, faster content editing and a complete backup system in minutes. The Little Big Disk supports two 10Gbps bi-directional channels from a single port without compromising bandwidth using Apple and Intel's new Thunderbolt technology. In addition to superior transfer rates and large capacity solid state drives, the Little Big Disk provides daisy-chaining of up to six computer peripherals and are preconfigured as a striped RAID system.
BEST EDITING SOFTWARE
Apple Final Cut Pro X
Apple announced the long-awaited new edition of its editing software, Final Cut Pro X which will support 64-bit, allowing it to render video and effects instantly in the background. It will also take advantage of Grand Central Dispatch, will include a "magnetic" timeline for easy roll and slip edits, supports 4K formats, can sync up audio and video without timecode, allows you to get rid of rolling shutter, and has an entirely new and sleek interface - all for only $299.
No additional information available as of press time.
Boris FX Boris RED 5
Boris' newest version of its successful RED line is Boris RED 5. It has support for 64-bit video editing applications, filters for 3-way color grades, noise reduction, up-rezzing, smooth tone, lens blur, matchmove, DV fixing, and pixel fixing for high quality SD to HD conversions. It also has some stylized filters to add scan lines, a damaged TV look, turbulence, LED array look and chromatic abberation to your footage. The product will be available in the first half of 2011.
BEST LIGHT GEAR
Lowel Studio LED 250 and 450
The Lowel Studio LED 250 and 450 LED fixtures are the first two models in a new series from Lowel. Not only are they brighter than similar banks, they're also an affordable LED lighting solution for the market. The lights are DMX dimmable, have a Color Rendering Index of 91+ making them more accurate across the spectrum, and have a quiet fanless operation. They are available in daylight and tungsten color, and include barn-doors, honeycomb grids and diffusers for any lighting need.
Sony NEX-FS100U Camcorder
This long-awaited offering from Sony was designed with the amateur filmmaker in mind. The camcorder works with interchangeable lenses and a Super 35mm sensor that gives video enthusiasts a chance to capture incredible film-like depth of field. Unlike most HDSLRs that have the same sensor size, but lack pro features, the Sony NEX -FS100U has two XLR ports, a full HDMI-out for previewing, a flash memory unit, and the ability to record in 60fps in 1080p mode. It also has a high speed 120 frames per second burst mode for even slower footage. Of course,what makes this so great is the price: only $5,850 without a lens!
Sennheiser MKH 8060 Shotgun Microphone
Already a leader in wireless audio, Sennheiser released their new MKH 8060 shotgun microphone in an effort to capture an even larger chunk of the pro audio market. This microphone is Sennheiser's first short shotgun offering. More importantly, the microphone is modular so you can quickly change its output from analog to digital.
BEST STOCK MEDIA
SmartSound SonicFire Pro Quicktracks
SmartSound makes music creation software that even the tone-deaf video producer can use - easily, efficiently and creatively. You simply find the "mood" and style of music you want, makes some adjustments that include adding vocals and instruments, decide how long you want it, and create - SonicFire Pro does the hard part. But now, with SmartSound SonicFire Pro Quicktracks, you don't have to own the entire library, or take up too much space on your drive, you make your creations in the cloud, then insert it into your timeline.
Canon XF305 3D Firmware Update
There's very few ways to make Canon's XF305 camcorder even better, shortly before NAB they announced a firmware update for their XF305 and XF300 camcorders that gave them the ability to shoot stereoscopically with an identical camera. The real beauty of the announcement is that with a simple cable connection between the two cameras you can now perform OIS Lens Shift to optically align the cameras. This keeps both cameras in stereo alignment even while optical image stabilization is on. Canon also included the ability to record simultaneously to both SD card slots with this new update for backup purposes.
HP EliteBook 8760w Mobile Workstation
Sticking with the quality of their previous designs, HP built the new bodies with aircraft grade brushed aluminum and a jewel logo for a surprisingly sleek and refined design. Elitebooks now include a Dreamcolor 17.3-inch backlit display, NVIDIA Quadro 5010M graphics, two USB 3.0 ports, one eSATA port, a DisplayPort, and the new Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7 chips. The mobile workstations come with an optional solid state drive option of up to 256GB. With all of these options and it's rugged design, the Elitebooks are tough to beat for on the go editors.
iKan VX7e - Field Monitor
Yes, there were LOTS of monitors at this show - especially mega-big 3D monitors, but we liked the compact iKan VX7e field monitor which introduces Peaking and False Color features to iKan's VX series of HD monitors. The VX7e is equipped with both Monochrome and Color Peaking features which highlight sharp lines and stark contrasts for optimal focus control.
NAB 2011 Highlights - Here's a look at some products worth highlighting:
JVC GY-HMZ1U 3D Camcorder
JVC's new handheld 3D camcorder features dual 3.32 megapixel CMOS sensors allowing it to simultaneously record a left and right image in full 1920x1080 resolution. Video can be recorded in 3D or 2D at frame rates of 60i or 24p. 3D timelapse and 3D still options are also available. The camcorder's 3.5-inch LCD touch panel allows for glasses-free viewing. Other features include XLR mic inputs, a shotgun microphone mount, 80GB internal memory with the option to use SDHC or SDXC memory cards.
Adobe CS5.5 Editing Software
Though this is technically an "update" Adobe's new CS5.5 has made some major improvements. Of particular note is Adobe's new subscription-based pricing plan which allows users to always have the latest and greatest software on a month-to-month basis or for one year. In addition, Premiere now has a feature that allows editors to Merge Clips for syncing audio and video that doesn't have timecode. It also improves the handling of RED workflows and Canon's XF format. In After Effects there is a new Warp Stabilizer image-stabilization feature to correct "rolling shutter" issues native to DSLR footage. After Effects has also unveiled a new stereoscopic camera feature for moving through graphics and video in 3D.
ARRI Alexa M Camcorder
ARRI's newest addition to their Alexa line is the Alexa M, a modular camera system which separates the camera head from the body. This separation makes the newest Alexa small and lightweight allowing for of flexibility in run-and-gun shooting. The weight, along with its full 3D sync functionality makes this the perfect camera for 3D shooting. Images, sound, and metadata is stored on SxS cards. There's also plenty of 3/8-16 and M4 mounting points along with a PL mount for film-quality lenses.
ARRI L7-C LED Light
ARRI also announced a new fleet of high-end fixtures, the L7-T, L7-D, and L7-C, which they claim are the first LED fixtures to incorporate true Fresnel characteristics. Of particular note is the L7-C model which is color controllable, draws 220 watts, and has an RDM-enabled DMX. It also can output light comparable to a 1000 watt tungsten Fresnel, has a passive cooling system for noiseless operation, can change between spot and flood, and is weather resistant. Even more excitingly, the L7-C light can change from indoor to outdoor color temperatures, can add and remove green for chroma key purposes - eliminating the need for gels.
RED Scarlet 3K Camcorder
Though this product had been announced all the way back in 2008, this was the first time RED Digital Cinema had its Scarlet camera on display at a booth. After seeing the camera, it definitely seems worth the wait. Besides a strong and durable build, the camera is able to record in true 2K resolutions with its 3072x1620 pixel 2/3-inch image sensor and comes with a processor that is capable of recording at a blazing fast 120 frames per second. The camera is modular in design which makes it upgradeable and can take many of the same accessories as its older brother the Epic. It should go on sale sometime after the summer.
Matthews DC Slider Dolly
Though Matthews has put the word slider in the name of this product it is much more than that. The DC Slider can also function as a mini-jib and a tower slider for a variety of camera moves and angles. With this dual functionality, this device is not only able to perform some very unique moves, but can save any cinematographer time and money on equipment. The slider has a counterbalance system that allows weight on both ends of the 63-inch track to be even throughout the dolly movement. It also comes with a bar for locking the camera in place during jib moves. Like most sliders, the DC Slider is tripod mountable for quick and simple setups.
Sony PMW-F3 Camcorder
Before Sony rocked the prosumer and professional world with their affordable NEX-FS100U camcorder, they announced the equally exciting PMW-F3. This impressive camera comes with an Exmor Super 35 CMOS image sensor, a PL interchangeable lens mount, an HD-SDI Dual-link output, can be linked for stereoscopic shooting, records to SxS cards, and can film at 60 fps in Full HD. Though the price might be a bit higher than some can afford, it comes with three of Sony's newest 35, 50, and 85 mm prime lenses making it a bit easier to swallow.
G-Technology Hard Drives with Thunderbolt
This innovative company which was recently bought by Hitachi only to be sold to Western Digital a short time later, announced they will be bringing the speed of Thunderbolt technology to its line of RAID devices. They'll start with the company's smallest arrays of four to eight disks and eventually upgrade most of their line to include the speedy new port. The drives should be released in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
KinoFlo Barfly and CFL Bulbs
As anyone who has been forced to lug around a ballast knows, Kino-Flo's newest announcement of a ballast-free Barfly is welcome news. The company also re-introduced their new "practicals" line which offers 12-volt CFL bulbs that can mount on any household fixture. This will allow video enthusiasts to use practical lighting indoors without having to suffer with any color temperature inconsistencies.
Shure VP89 Shotgun Microphone
Looking to add microphones for video to its well-known higher-end television, music and movie gear, Shure introduced the VP89 shotgun mic, which is available in three interchangeable lengths - long, medium and short. The VP89/S is perfect for a camera mounted mic with a wide pickup angle. The mics include carrying cases and foam windscreens.
Though there were many great discoveries at NAB, the greatest discovery of all was just how much the industry is evolving. With 4K camcorders, 3D televisions, and a multitude of wireless devices, companies are giving us more options than ever before to impress people with what we do. That's what made this year's NAB show so irresistibly exciting and, if the products we saw were any indication, should make next year even better!
Dan Bruns is an Associate Multimedia Editor at Videomaker.