NAB 2017: Where the World M.E.T.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, right? Well, not when it comes to the annual National Association of Broadcasters Convention. There is no other trade show that brings together industry pros from the biggest manufacturers and network executives to the smallest start-ups and one-man production companies. No where else will you find software engineers from Japan talking with low power station owners from Joplin, MO or documentary filmmakers from Uruguay and government officials from Uganda eyeing the latest cameras. The world comes to the Las Vegas Convention Center every April for the NAB show.

The organization was founded in the 1920’s as radio broadcasting was in its infancy. They originally began to create broadcasting standards to learn from one another how to best serve the public.Today their membership is global, diverse and represents radio, television, streaming media and practically every facet of the industry. The annual gathering includes awards, large advocacy meetings and small breakout sessions with topics ranging from drone regulations to cinematography and special effects. But the big draw is the exhibitors that completely cover the three massive halls of the convention center. As you walk the floor — and you will walk a lot — you’ll see everything you need for video production including the newest mics, monitors, lights, lenses and more.

As you walk the floor — and you will walk a lot — you’ll see everything you need for video production including the newest mics, monitors, lights, lenses and more.

The official theme of the 2017 show was “The M.E.T Effect”, which stand for Media, Entertainment and Technology all coming together. Another theme for the exhibit floor could have been, “It’s About Time”, because there were many types of technology on display that enhance the production and distribution of video.

For example, sound mixers have been able to control their boards with an app for a few years now. Ikegami was showing a Beta version of an app that allows broadcast engineers to shade cameras remotely. A relatively new company K-Tek displayed a harness for field audio guys that better distributes the weight of a heavy audio mixer. LeCie introduced a new RAID that works on Apple’s Thunderbolt plug and gives you tons of storage plus all the external plug-ins you need, like USB 3 ports. Several companies featured ways to tether a camera drone for longer flying and continuous video feeds. These, and many other displays, made you think, “It’s about time someone thought of that.”

Because of the sheer size and scope of the show, it’s impossible to see everything in the four days by yourself. Videomaker sent a team to hit the press conferences, roam the floor and, of course, play with the gear to bring you the highlights.

Cameras Everywhere

For many years, the NAB Show was where all the major companies introduce their newest cameras and imaging technology. NAB is where the world first saw HDTV, Action Cameras and 4K. This year there was not a new standard but lots of enhancements to be seen.

Blackmagic’s Design booth, located in the North Hall, gets larger each year and is always a must see. This year they showcased the URSA Mini Pro 4.6K as the latest addition to their camera line. The URSA Mini Pro gives you more control in an ENG style camera. It even has controls for a servo zoom lens. It will have Bluetooth connectivity and apps will be coming soon.

NAB 2017: Where the World M.E.T.
NAB 2017: Where the World M.E.T.

Another must-see booth is always Sony. They were tucked far to the back of the main hall but it was worth the hike to catch a glimpse of the new Alpha 9 mirrorless. What makes this exciting is that it has the form of a DSLR but takes advantage of an electronic shutter. Sony says this gives you high-speed and distortion free imaging. They also had on display their new UMCS3C/P 4K. This tiny camera is designed to go in small spaces and on small rigs, but gives high level image quality with a full-frame Exmor CMOS Sensor.

If you’re looking for a new spherical camera, Panasonic announced their new AW-360C10. It’s designed to be paired with the AW-360B10 base unit and provide live uncompressed 360 video with 4K output. What made it unique is that you can record a standard 1080 image and choose which part of the spherical image to output with a touch screen. In other words this camera could be placed in the center of some action, say on the sidelines of a football game, and switch from shot to shot by touching on the image. You could get shots of the game end-to-end and crowd reaction with just a touch.

Putting on the Glasses

Of course, a great camera is really only as good as the glass in front of it. There were lots of new lenses on display.

Last year Canon introduced their first servo zoom lens at NAB. This year, they took a step up from that 18-80mm zoom to their new 70-200mm zoom. It’s designed to fit the range of their DSLR and cinema cameras. A feature that sets it apart is a zoom handle that will detach. The control can be put on a tripod arm or a rig for optimal zoom control.

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Jeff Chaves
Jeff Chaves was trained in video production in the Army and has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years. He and his wife run Grace Pictures Inc.