Seeing the Future - CES 2012 Showcases Technological Advancements and Best of CES Awards

Every year, nearly 150,000 people from all around the world venture to Las Vegas to collectively peer into the technology crystal ball known as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Billed as one of the world’s largest trade shows, CES seldom disappoints those scouring the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) and the surrounding hotels for cutting edge technology. Whether you’re on the hunt for camcorders or car accessories, manufacturers big and small use the 2012 International CES as not only a showplace for their existing products, but also as a launching pad for new ones.

Exhilarating Exhaustion

CES has always been an event that draws attendees of all types – retail buyers, factory representatives, industry analysts and journalists from every inch of the globe. Videomaker once again had a strong presence at CES, covering a huge patch of the 1.86-million square feet of trade show space.

For the first-timer, CES can truly be overwhelming. Without the basics like a backpack and a portable charger for your cell phone, there’s a very good chance CES will have you scrambling after just a few hours.

If innovation is what you came to see, Tara Dunion says, “there was plenty of that this year at the show.”

“The best part of CES for me and my team was seeing the some 20,000 new products on the CES show floor,” said Dunion, Senior Director, CES Communications. “Sometimes it takes until the fourth day to truly see all that this show has to offer.”

For seasoned vets like Jennifer O’Rourke, Managing Editor of Videomaker Magazine, having a game plan in place of what you want to see – and some comfy shoes – is the best approach before even setting foot inside the exhibit halls.

“Although the show runs a full week, we were onsite for only three days,” said O’Rourke. “We hit the ground running as soon as we got off the plane. With sneakers and a pedometer, I personally logged 25.16 km, which is more than 15 miles!” Tabulate the footwork of seven total Videomaker staffers and three writers in attendance, this crew clocked more than 150 miles scouring the show floor to find the latest and greatest products for video producers of every skill set.

Notable Names Debut Promising Products

While the CES tends to feature all the major players in the electronics industry (a walk through the Central Hall of the LVCC alone is like a tech geek walking through Christmas morning gifts on steroids), the North and South Halls feature up and coming products that could be the next gadget that everyone wants to get.

On the video production front, CES tends to skew more towards the average consumer, so expansive professional gear options can be hard to find. However, several companies, like JVC and Sony, launched some very exciting products that stand to serve both pro and amateur video enthusiasts alike.

JVC, showcased the first-ever 4K compact camcorder. JVC’s GY-HMQ10 takes high definition video to a whole new level, and even received a Videomaker Best of CES 2012 Award for Best Camcorder. Dave Walton, an Assistant Vice President at JVC, was honored by the nod and mentioned to Videomaker’s Multi-Media Editor, Mike Wilhelm, that putting the power of 4K into the hands of video producers means the overall quality of video stands to raise the bar significantly higher.

“Dave told me this camera really has many possible uses outside the professional level,” Wilhelm said. “It would make a great camera for shooting sports. And with a price just under $5,000, that’s just remarkable given the camera’s 4K capabilities.”

Another camcorder caught the eye of Videomaker staffers. Sony‘s new Handycam HDR-PJ760V is a hybrid camcorder/projector which features a beefy 96GB internal memory, a remarkable 24.1MP photo option, and perhaps the coolest part, a high contrast projector that offers vast improvements over 2011’s model.

“Not only will you be able to capture your family’s memories to share as they get older,” said Dan Bruns, a Videomaker Associate Multi-Media Editor. “you’ll be able to show these memories anywhere you are.”

Canon‘s been going strong with it’s popular VIXIA HF lineup and this year’s models M50 and R30 have improved CMOS sensor, a 3-inch touchscreen, MP4 recording, DLNA and a Wi-Fi module so producers can share content. They both record to 8GB flash memory and provide better low light capabilities. Throw in dual codec recording and several stabilization modes and the new VIXIA makes for a great consumer camera with some features that only pro cams carry.

Products Providing Productivity

Videomaker‘s goal is to tell you about equipment that not only makes your productions look good, but also seamlessly flows from start to finish. Our team of ten each had specific products they were looking for, and each company welcomed us into their booths to show what makes their products unique.

Buffalo’s AirStation WZR-1750H

If wireless routing is something your business or production suite needs, Buffalo‘s blazing fast AirStation WZR-1750H allows you to transfer enormous files at blistering speeds. Jackson Wong, who serves as an associate editor for Videomaker, was taking in his first CES, met with the folks from Buffalo and was really impressed with this product.

“This technology allows for nearly 800 Mbps wireless data movement,” said Wong, “Though their setup used a cable like an antenna, the speeds read greater than 750 Mbps while we were at their booth. Keep in mind, wireless signals at CES had a hard time getting anywhere near the show floor.” Considering more than 150,000 people attended the show and nearly all of them had mobile devices drawing on limited bandwidth, for Buffalo to be able to demonstrate that kind of potential is a major coup – imagine what it can do in your office.


Audio-Technica ATH-PRO700MKZANV

When you’re producing a video, having a good read on what the piece sounds like is critical to saving time and energy in the edit suite. While a surround sound stereo system is great for playback, a lot of editors prefer to plug in a pair of high quality headphones and keep close tabs on their output.

Leave it to Audio-Technica to roll out a collectible pair of stereo headphones that offer practicality and proficiency for post-production performance. The ATH-PRO700MKZANV are ideal for studio monitoring, and with its detachable cable, you’ll have safety knowing the cable is easier to replace than the headphones. These headphones retail for around $300 and could be a worthwhile investment if you set up and tear down your edit suite a lot.

Tiffen Dfx v3

We can all attest to how difficult it is to fix bad video. Whether you neglected to white balance in studio, or the clouds rolled in while you were rolling on a nature shot that suddenly went dark, having the right filter to fix bad visuals can be hard to come by. Tiffen has a new suite of plug-in filters that can correct almost any problem, and even add some beautiful effects at the same time.

Tiffen‘s Dfx v3 is like a still photographer’s filter case on steroids. Forget carrying glass filters to screw onto your lens whenever you want a different look, just scroll through the 10 filters, 113 film stocks, and plenty more options this software package offers.

“The digital filters are made to simulate Tiffen’s glass filters, so forget trying to find the one that will fit your lens,” said Bruns. “The effects are easy to apply, fun to use, and give a high quality, professional feel to your videos.”

Mighty Mountable Technology

We’ve seen the extreme video production product world grow exponentially at CES over the past three years. What started as a fad is becoming a viable solution for producers looking to take their work to the edge… and then over it.

GoPro is one of the more recognizable mountable camcorder products on the market. Their HD Hero2 camera line features simple to use accessories that seemingly meet any need imaginable. From the new GoPro Battery BacPac, which offers nearly double the record time, to the Wi-Fi BacPac, which enables wireless connectivity to monitor your footage, to a multitude of new mounts, this company really ‘gets’ what their consumers want and delivers unique results, no matter the use.

In the same breath, companies like Contour are working hard to take a slice of GoPro’s market share. Wilhelm spoke with the folks from Contour about their Contour+ POV cam, which has a GPS location feature that can be controlled and monitored via Bluetooth technology.

“The Contour team showed us how they’ve teamed up with Cerevo to pair the Contour+ with LiveShell to allow live streaming of their cameras on UStream,” Wilhelm explained. “However, you do need a Wi-Fi connection, which may be difficult to come by on locations where the camera’s footage would be the most interesting.”


DSLR Rapidly Expanding

Nikon, which has historically been a still photography brand, is moving aggressively into the DSLR video world. And by aggressively, we mean the company’s new D4 camera is exceptional. Scott Diussa, a Nikon rep, visited with Videomaker and wanted to showcase what the D4 can do on the video front.

“They had the D4 set up with an external mini-shotgun mic attached to show just how much flexibility users have with their audio,” recalled Rich Ober, Videomaker‘s Content Director. “The D4 includes manual audio gain control, live audio monitoring, uncompressed video output via an HDMI cable, and a new feature which does a 1920×1080 crop, increasing the lens’ focal length by 2.7x.”

The D4, fittingly enough, was given the Videomaker Best of Show award for the game-changing features this camera hosts. Yet while video pros are celebrating the advancements the D4 has made to the video world, still photographers are only mildly embracing the video function.

Sticks and Stones

Vanguard made a splash onto the photo and video scene back in 1986 and has been introducing innovative stability and transit products ever since. The company’s latest line of tripod and camera mounts offer flexibility and conformability, giving producers a wide range of options out in the field.

The Abeo tripod by Vanguard is an amazing set of sticks that can handle a multitude of shooting scenarios – from formal studio settings, to rocky terrain in the backwoods. The lightweight, magnesium die cast construction is durable and easy to operate, and the legs adjust all the way to 80-degrees for those low-profile shots. These sticks are a run-and-gun shooter’s dream.

Memories

We haven’t seen any new tape-based camcorders released in a few years, and recently Sony told us they won’t be manufacturing the popular tape-based models anymore. Most new cameras now shoot to memory cards, and between HD and 3D footage, a small 8GB card can’t cut itanymore. We spoke with both SanDisk and Lexar about their newest cards and they certainly can hold their own. Not only do the cards hold more footage, their transfer speed is much faster, making for less drop-frame errors during transfers. With these new tools, speed is the name of the game.

The SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC and SDXC for 64GB UHS-I memory cards aren’t your usual off-the-shelf point-n-shoot camera cards. They have a capacity to shoot full HD video or RAW photos and can shoot up to up to 95 Mbps.

Lexar showed off the Lexar Professional 1000x CompactFlash card, the first card to carry this much weight with a minimum sustained read speed of 150Mbps and it comes with Lexar’s Video Performance Guarantee support and image recovery software. Lexar also showed us the new Professional USB 3.0 Dual-Slot Reader and JumpDrive Triton USB 3.0.

What Happens In Vegas…

Word travels fast about the happenings at CES. Innovation often generates a lot of buzz, but the reality of seeing the cool new products in stores near you, sometimes takes a while.

Our team of ten came, saw and conquered much of the 1.86-million square feet of show floor space. The experience is always memorable and leaves us hungry for what next year has in store. However, whatever happens while we’re in Vegas during CES always helps us appreciate the technology we have at hand.

Sure, it’s cool to think of having robots doing our laundry and sweeping the floor, but until the technology proves its worth to regular consumers, it’s all just a conceptual fantasy. Same goes for much of the video production equipment we see every year at CES. In time, a 4K camera will be in everyone’s hands, and video filter software will make everyone’s home movies rival the imagery we’re accustomed to seeing at the cinema.

Until then, it’s nice to know that Videomaker Magazine will continue to log the miles to uncover the ‘next best thing’ in video, and that you’re assured to hear about it here first.


Videomaker Best of CES 2012 Awards

By Dan Bruns
Videomaker‘s Best of CES awards were created to help you find products that were especially innovative, affordable, dependable, easy-to-use, and most of all, products which empower each of you to make better video.

Best of Show: Nikon’s D4 DSLR
It’s no surprise that our biggest award of the show went to Nikon’s newest DSLR, the D4. With features like an ISO range of 50 to 204,800, 1080p video with an uncompressed HDMI output, and an FX-format (1.4″ x .9″) sensor, this DSLR has many features that videographers have been wanting in a DSLR for years. An interesting new feature is the camera’s ability to use a new 2.7x crop mode to zoom into an image on a sensor without losing any of the 1920×1080 quality of the picture. This means that you can easily turn a 35mm lens into a virtual telephoto lens instead. The camera also has on-screen audio indicators and a 20 step audio adjustment making this a real force to contend with in the DSLR world.

Best Camcorder: JVC’s GY-HMQ10 4K Camcorder
The GY-HMQ10 4K camcorder can record at a resolution of 3,840×2,160 pixels using its Falconbird processor and 1/2-inch sensor, it records to four SD cards, and has two phantom powered XLR ports. Though it has a fixed lens for now, we’ve heard rumors of an interchangeable lens camcorder coming soon – but that’s our little secret.

Best Microphone: Blue Microphones’ Spark Digital
The Spark Digital is a cardioid condenser microphone that provides two different usage modes at the touch of a button: the normal mode which is supposed to provide increased low frequency for those times when you need to sound like Don LaFontaine, and a focus mode which changes the microphone’s frequency response in order to pick up more clarity and detail. The newest part about the Spark Digital is that it offers both USB and iPad connectivity.

Best Editing Software: Corel’s VideoStudio Pro X4
VideoStudio Pro X4 offers great support for beginners by offering the Corel Guide – a useful repository for video training, customer support, and user forums. The software also offers dual screen support (something most introductory editing software leave to the pros) and an easy stop motion video creator.

Best Computer: Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y580 Notebook
Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y580 has JBL speakers, an optional Blu-ray burner and Intel’s Wireless Display technology. You can also get a Core i7 processor in this beast to boot. As for the display, the Y580 sports a 1920x1080p screen and has a 2GB GTX660M card to drive it. Not bad for a laptop that starts at $899.

Best Storage Device: LaCie’s 2big RAID Drive with Thunderbolt
LaCie introduced a new version of their popular 2big that now has the power of Thunderbolt which gives the drive speeds up to 327 Mbps. The 2big also conveniently adds RAID technology to protect all of your valuable footage and is hot-pluggable so there’s never any need to reboot the system when swapping devices.

Best Support: iOmounts’ iOstand and iOmini
iOmounts stood out for its innovative mounting idea for iPad and iPod-like devices. Their mounting device allows a free and unobstructed rotation of any device by using a ferro-magnetic sphere and a specially engineered magnetic carrier.

Best Bag/Case: Tiffen’s Domke RuggedWear Camera Bags
Tiffen released a new line of Domke RuggedWear camera bags meant for almost any situation you might find yourself in. Each Domke bag is made of weather-tough and durable cotton canvas along with a strap made of durable cotton webbing and a steel snap hook so they’re built to last.

Best Accessory: GoPro’s Wi-Fi BacPac
GoPro’s Wi-Fi BacPac gives GoPro’s popular HD HERO and HD HERO2 cameras the ability to transmit live video streams to a smart device such as a tablet, smartphone, or computer while at the same time being able to control a bevy of video options as well. As a result of using Wi-Fi, this remote can travel over an incredibly long distance without losing signal.

Best Lighting: Sunpak’s LED Video Lights
We’ve seen lights like these before but never in such quantities and interesting designs. Sunpak showed five LED products ranging from their DSLR67 ring light (that attaches directly to a DSLR lens) all the way up to their LED 96, which sports 96 high powered LEDs. Best of all, almost all of their lineup runs off of easy-to-find AA or AAA batteries and can be attached on any camera’s hot shoe mount.

Spotlight Award: Panasonic’s 4K x 2K Monitor concept
This is a product that we’ve been waiting for a long time to get: a 20-inch field monitor that packs a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution. That means shooters everywhere will be able to see the full glory of their 4K footage from cameras like RED’s EPIC or JVC’s newest GY-HMQ10. Though there’s no price information on this big boy yet, we’re excited about it’s potential.

Spotlight Award: Sony’s Handycam HDR-PJ760V Camcorder/Projector
Many companies are beginning to blur the line between professional and consumer camcorders and Sony joins ranks with its newest camcorder and projector, the HDR-PJ760V. The camcorder comes with 96GB of internal storage space, an incredible 24.1 MP still image capture option, image stabilization, and of all things, a high contrast projector said to be twice as bright as Sony’s offering last year.

Spotlight Award: Buffalo’s AirStation WZR-1750H Router
We were specifically impressed by the AirStation’s wireless speed with 802.11ac, which Buffalo claimed could hit 1,300 Mbps, approximately three times faster than 802.11n. What’s amazing is that just a few short years ago, standard Ethernet cable used to have a hard time getting speeds up to 1300 Mbps and now wireless routers are doing it in spades. Not to be left out, the router will also have a 2.4 GHz 3×3 802.11n radio inside so that it can be backward compatible with the 802.11a/b/g/and n standards.

Spotlight Award: Tiffen’s Dfx v3 Plug-in Software
Tiffen Dfx is a plug-in filter that in many ways mimics the screw-on glass lens filters that professional photographers use, but it’s like having a filter on steroids. Version three has added even more filters for optical effects along with interface improvements and host support. The digital filters can take your videos from good to outstanding in a very professional way.

Spotlight Award: Satarii’s Swivl Accessory
Asking someone to snap a photo can be a stretch and asking them to do camera movements is crazy unless you plan to hire a camera person. The Swivl is your answer in such times. By using a marker, the Swivl keeps you or your subject in a user-defined frame and has the capacity to record audio via an iPhone app. The 360 degrees panning capability is paired with a 25 degree vertical axis to capture a lot of action. The base and marker take AA and AAA batteries respectively, which provide for about four or ten hours of recording depending on whether you opted for the wall charger or the battery life of your pocket camera.

Dave Sniadak is an annual CES attendee. He is an award-winning video producer whose clients include several Fortune 500 companies, professional sports franchises and small businesses.
Dan Bruns is an Associate Multi-Media Editor for Videomaker.

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