NAB may not have delivered a ‘must have’ new product, but there were some big drops in the cost of both software and hardware. George Bevir finds out what everyone was talking about.
“Evolutionary rather than revolutionary” was how one delegate described the tone of this year’s NAB. The general feeling among delegates at the Las Vegas annual trade fair was that the show lacked a standout product or technology.
One trend that did emerge was the commoditisation of technology, with iterations of some software dropping in price or being offered free of charge. Broadcast spoke to figures from the facilities and post world about what caught their eye.
Jamie Allan, post-production manager, Jigsaw
Blackmagic Design has added some big new features to version 8 of its DaVinci Resolve, some of which are XML-supported. These include Avid round-tripping, blend modes, multi-layer timeline, camera stabilisation, noise reduction, customisable HSL curves and improved S3D features.
There are mixed feelings about the effect Resolve (below) is having on the market, but we’re seeing our customers, big and small, look past this and realise its creative power and speed. It smashed our expectations for V8 and, best of all for users, the upgrade is free.
Among the shiny new toys was a little box from Promise that we were very happy to see in action. The SANLink adaptor, which takes a Thunderbolt connection and converts it to dual 4G Fibre Channel, was showing reading speeds of more than 600Mbps from a 100TB XSAN mounted on a 2011 MacBook Pro. This leads to the prospect of connecting laptops or any other Thunderbolt-enabled device to a full SAN environment. With more machines featuring Thunderbolt ports on the horizon, we think this will really open up the possibilities for building and expanding collaborative environments.
Chopper Harris, director, Root6
A lot of people were amazed at the sub-$1,000 HD Recorder from Blackmagic. Post houses were fascinated by it, and it strikes me that studios would also be an ideal place for it. People didn’t believe it could be done for that price.
In general, people were taken with the commoditisation of technology; what manufacturers can achieve for the price is really wowing people. There needs to be a bit more detail about Thunderbolt, but it’s very interesting to see what the new interface will generate, and manufacturers seem eager to create Thunderbolt products. Apple, which has the exclusive licence for the next few months, has a certain gravity.
There is an app store mentality among vendors. FilmLight launched its Baselight plug-in for Final Cut Pro, Blackmagic launched its DaVinci Resolve 8 upgrade and Lite version of the software, both free, and The Foundry’s Storm is available for $250. They are obviously all trying to lead users on to other business, but it is still a niche marketplace, and I’m not sure we have the volume.
Daniel Sassen, head of technical operations, Envy
For me, Sony’s OLED BVM and PVM range of displays really stood out. They looked very impressive, and the demonstration at NAB highlighted how different they are from CRT and LED displays.
Every engineer in Soho for the past five years has dealt with monitoring issues, and I’m hoping it will put to bed the problem of not being able to get hold of the old Grade 1 monitors. It’s the black levels that are key and since we stopped using CRTs, most of the LCDs have not matched up. We are going to test the BVM (pictured below) and PVM range internally, but they look extremely promising; one post house is rumoured to have ordered 19 already.
I’ve been told that the BVM range will cost around £25,000, while the PVM - which doesn’t have P3 colour space or 4:4:4 - is approximately £4,000. At that price, it becomes very attractive. My reservation is that Sony only demonstrated the BVM, so we’ve not yet seen the PVMs in action.
Bryan Malone, owner, Tyrell CCT
There was lots of clever stuff but no technology breakthrough that we weren’t already aware of. Avid Interplay Central was exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing what that could turn in to. As they adopt it into the Interplay family of products, it could be very appealing to enterprise customers, and for post firms that want to understand asset management systems, which all facilities need because of moves to file-based systems.
The biggest point for me was the commoditisation of client software: Apple’s FCP X for $299; Blackmagic Resolve Lite for free; and Adobe, which launched a lot of script stuff for free and is basing its pricing model on rentals, so users can rent on a per-month basis. From a reseller’s point of view, it could be a concern. We are okay because we’re not box shifters, but those that sell for profit-only will struggle.
Duncan Martin, managing director, Pro Motion Hire
A neat device for acquisition we found was the external solid-state recorder FFV Sidekick HD (below), which has HD-SDI and HDMI input with loop-through. This is a great step up from the Nano and KiPro Mini, which don’t feature any confi dence monitoring. At the moment, it only features Apple ProRes Codec at 220Mbps, 10bit 4:2:2 sampling, but they will make more Codec licences available individually as very reasonably priced firmware upgrades, with first on the list rumoured to be MPEG-2 MXF at 50Mbps.
Sony’s new tapeless VTR, the XDS-PD2000, combines two SxS card slots, a professional disc tray and an internal 1Gb RAID 4 solidstate HDD, with professional connectivity that allows you to transfer and edit simultaneously. It can also make use of the long-awaited quad-layer, single-write 128GB Pro Discs that will be available soon.
Sony’s 17- and 25-inch OLED monitors in PVM and BVM varieties also caught our eye. They had exquisite picture quality and integrity with professional connectivity and a very reasonable price point; we will definitely be investing in them.
Andy Bellamy Creative director, Pro 3D
The main thing for me is the software that we use in our workflow. Cineform’s Neo 3D used to be $3,000 dollars, now it’s $1,000. This will break down any concerns people had about the cost, and I don’t think there is anything as cheap and powerful that offers real-time 3D editing.
I was knocked out by Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve software and stereo tools - it has things that everyone working with 3D needs, and at a similar price to Neo 3D. It throws open high end kit to anybody. At the high end, SGO’s Mistika has some phenomenal tools, like vertical offset and alignment. There was no change to price structure but they have a refreshingly European attitude towards development.
As a potential learning tool or B-roll camera, Sony’s HXR-NX3D1U (pictured below) looks superb. The pro model with 24p looks particularly good. Although it doesn’t suit every scenario, it gives people practical entry into 3D production. It will be affordable to rent or purchase, and if Sony puts some good training with it, it will be a good thing for everybody. It won’t compete with high end, but it will do more good than harm.