NAB Round Up
Three of Videomaker's editors, along with several other staff members, were like kids in a candy shop at the National Association of Broadcaster's Electronic Media Show 2005. We had five days to see over 1,400 exhibits sprawled throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center's 68-football field sized floor space. Not an easy task when over 104,000 other people are trying to do the same.
Being primarily a broadcast event, we were able to immediately cross-off many of the exhibits from our to-do-list such as the news helicopters and Hummers equipped with radar dishes and get right to the products our readers are most interested in (or at least can afford).
The clear buzz-term this year was HD. Though not a new topic to NAB, it seemed to be the one thing on everyone's lips. Here is a small sample of some of the candy we got to taste:
- Apple opened the show Sunday morning with a presentation that would make Madonna or Britany Spears take note. In a tightly choreographed presentation they unveiled Final Cut Studio (Final Cut Pro 5, Soundtrack Pro, Motion 2 and DVD Studio Pro 4) with the surprising low price of $1,299. Crowds ohhhed and ahhhed as Apple techs demonstrated Soundtrack Pro, an audio editing and sound design application, just one of many awe inspiring presentations.
- Panasonic displayed its much anticipated 1080i/720p HD camera; the soon to be released AG-HVX200. Though the camera can record DV to tape, shooters will need to do more than sell their old cameras to afford the solid state P2 cards that hold the HD media files. It might be a while before this is affordable for us prosumers.
- JVC debuted its new HDV camera, the GY-HD100U. The most noticeable feature on this prosumer sized shoulder mount camera is the large interchangeable 16x Servo Fujinon ProHD lens (1/3-inch bayonet mount). Due to hit the streets in July, this 720p, 24 fps camera not only records to Mini DV tape but can simultaneously record to hard drive, (DTE, Direct to Edit) allowing editors to begin work immediately after a shoot.
- Though it was hard to find an exhibit booth without a Sony HDR-FX1 HDV camera as part of its presentation, Sony's big consumer release was Vegas 6 and the Vegas + DVD Production Suite, combining Vegas 6 with DVD Architect 3. This bundled HDV software is available for a SRP of $900 or $600 for Vegas 6 alone.
- Not only did Alienware announce its newest desktop on steroids, the MJ-12 7550a with an ear towards acoustic dampening of its cooling fans, but it showed pictures of its Aurora: Star Wars Edition Systems. Both LucasFilm approved versions – you guessed it, a dark side with Darth Vader and company graphics on the chassis and a Light Side with Obi-Wan, Yoda and Luke — come with the strongest components we've come to expect from Alienware plus many exclusive Star Wars extras.
- HP took a different approach with its affordable xw4300. Expected to ship early this summer, this 64-bit, dual core Pentium D processor machine comes ready for large amounts of expandability, letting the mediamaker upgrade when he or she is ready.
- Lowel made us smile with an economic addition to their illumination family with the e-studio two-, four- and six-bank, 55w fluorescent light systems. Though non-dimmable, these long life, low heat, daylight or tungsten color temperature, stand-mount or C-clamp hanging additions are happily welcome.
- Edirol had all of its toys out for us to play with along with an impressive demo of its new HD mixer, the V-400HD. Claiming to be the industry's most affordable HD mixing solution, this multi-format mixer seamlessly mixed SD, HD and computer signals- a total of eight inputs in all. This was the first time I saw a multi-screen image in a 48:9 ratio!
- NewTek demo'ed (and gave away four units) of its "television mobile truck in a backpack," the TriCaster. The ten-pound, less than one-cubic-foot, portable, live production suite boasts easy-to-use, jargon-free elements that would appeal to beginner through expert corporate presenters, educators and media ministry users alike.
- Manfrotto wins the most interesting product award with it's Fig Rig. We were stopped in our tracks walking past their booth when we saw what looked like a drivers education class in progress. A few people were holding the Fig Rig (named after filmmaker and inventor Mike Figgis of Timecode and Leaving Las Vegas fame) up in the air at steering wheel height testing this odd-looking hand-held DV camera support system.
- On the software side, both Zaxwerks and Digital Anarchy had some interesting offerings. Zaxwerks had a plug-in that let users put a logo on a digital flag bellowing in the wind, and Digital Anarchy had a number of new plug-ins including one that let users put an image on rippling water. Both looked very convincing.
We can easily take up the rest of the magazine with all we saw and heard about including LaCie's Biggest F800 2TB RAID system, Sonic's eDVD4, H.264, long GOP MPEG-2 and so much more. We will be testing and reviewing many of these items in the near future as well as running articles on all things HD. It's a great time to be a Videomaker editor! Stay tuned.