Okay, so here's the drill. Travel 5,000 miles. Check in to a hotel that looks like a pirate ship, a pyramid or a major European city. Trawl the Las Vegas Convention centre in a vain attempt to see all 1,000 exhibitors in four days. Try to negotiate a few bargains while also networking furiously. Come home.
But it doesn't have to be like that. With a bit of planning and some research, you can make the most of your time at NAB. Below is a breakdown of some of the things you will see at this year's show. Click on the link to find out more or scroll down to read about Digital Acquisition.
Digital cameras capable of capturing huge amounts of data are big news. Whether they are 2/3-inch HD acquisition technology or single sensor systems based on variants of the 35mm image format, the promise of resolutions of up to 4k has got everyone talking.
The current leader of the pack is the industry-changing Red One, a near 35mm film resolution digital cinema camera. It records up to 4k, has an 11.4-megapixel sensor and sells for the price of a low-end 35mm camera.
Red Digital Cinema, the company behind the Red One, is promising to release something exciting at NAB, codenamed Scarlet. Although still shrouded in some secrecy, it looks like being a professional 2k motion capture camera that is “pocket-sized” (in camera terms).
Tom Bridges, head of operations at Unit Post Production, is keen to see how the Red cameras are developing. “Because it has a post workflow that is unique we think there is going to be a strong market for it,” he says.
Unit managing director David Peto adds: “The line between production and post is blurring, particularly with visual effects.
“We spend a lot of our time on VFX shoots supervising people so we're looking at potentially acquiring a camera and having one of our team going out and filming effects shots.”
The Red/Scarlet combo won't be the only digital film cameras on show. Arri is also likely to release something. Again, few details have been revealed but it could be a variation on the Arriflex D-20 that is slightly cheaper.
[Since this article was written, Arri has unveiled the D-21, a film style digital camera with significant improvements to the image processing engine, an improved image quality, simpler operation and new accessories. New output options include a 2K raw data output mode and the use of anamorphic lenses.]
There will also be a chance to see the Phantom V5.2 digital high-speed camera from Vision Research. The Phantom is capable of capturing up to 1,000 frames per second at a resolution of 1152 x 896.
The Sony F35 is also worth a peek. The 1920 x 1080 pixel HD CineAlta camera has a single 35mm CCD image sensor and is designed to compete with Arri's D-20 or the Panavision Genesis. The Panasonic AJ-HPX3000, meanwhile, is a one-piece camcorder delivering progressive 1920 x 1080p 4:2:2 10-bit recording using P2 cards.
One of the most interesting developments in digital recorders is the debut of the Codex Digital Portable Recorder. Codex systems, which have eradicated the transcoding and digitising process, capture raw HD, 2K and 4K camera data and generate real-time output files in any format required.
Codex Portable will be shown capturing 4:4:4 1080p from a Sony F23 camera and delivering the footage to a range of editing and compositing systems. It also records from other high-end digital cameras from Arri and Panavision.