Thursday, April 14, 2011

NAB Coverage 2011 - BIG Ideas from Small Companies

Let me first apologize for this blog not being updated sooner. Incompatibilities between Blogger and my iPad have had me in a losing battle to post new content. Anyways, NAB has continued to showcase new and inventive products for film and video professionals. This post will mainly focus on the new lesser known products from start-up and mom and pop companies. But I will first acknowledge the introduction of Apple's Final Cut Pro update. From what I have seen here in Vegas, the update is being met with mixed reactions, and many are worried the program is moving more towards consumers than professionals. Let me just say that tape is not dead, and removing tape capture is ridiculous. I admit it is less in use than 3 years ago but there are still many shooters using BETA, HDV, and even DVCAM. If Apple keeps up their recent consumer-grade trends, Adobe and Avid will surely step-in and reclaim their share of the market.

So like I said, big ideas from small companies. A genius little gem I found was from Dana Dolly. This product is a real solution for moving your camera regardless of production size and camera weight. I have seen many sliders and dollys this week from Kessler, Matthews, and Fischer, to name a few, but this one takes the cake at the right price. The Dana Dolly consists of a basic 12" x 12" platform on silent rubber trucks. It comes equipped with multiple tripod mounts for 75mm - 150mm as well as Mitchell. Instead of providing overpriced track, this system includes connecters for using standard Home Depot grade 1 1/4" pipe. What this means is that you end up with a system that can handle any camera from a Canon 5D to an Alexa, and it fits in a single small case for under $600. I played with this system for 15 minutes and was truly impressed.

Carbon XL was another company that caught my attention. They sell a 20' portable jib system that breaks down into a small tripod bag, all weighing less than 45 lbs. Selling for about $15,000, this jib is amazing. Every component is made of carbon fiber materials and is designed to nest one piece inside of another. This allows you to get a very large setup into the trunk of a smart car with minimal set up time. No, this system won't be a big camera solution, but the way cameras are heading, you could shoot with a DSLR, F3, or light Epic. Max payload is 20lbs.

One last product I want to touch on is a space efficient camera cart from Inovativ. This company manufactures camera or equipment carts similar to Magliners, but with the unique ability to break down into a very compact briefcase-sized package. There are three different size options depending on your needs, but all three are capable of carrying heavy loads, and can be equipped with Steadicam docks, tripod mounts, or DIT monitors. Regardless of your needs, Inovativ has you covered with an assortment of customizable carts.

It has been a great week in Vegas but all good things come to an end. When I get back to Maryland I'll get a few more pics online, so be sure to check back. And also take a few minutes to visit some of the great vendors I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

NAB 2011 - Day 1

After arriving in Sin City it was a mad dash to the convention center to check out all the gadgets being introduced. Before I get into the details, let me say that if you have never been to NAB like myself, it is truly an amazing experience with city blocks of exhibits. My first stop was the Sony booth, and they really aren't messing around with the introduction of the new 8k resolution F65 cinema camera.

No word on price but Sony doesn't have a track record for cheap cameras and this may not be in the same league as an Epic or Alexa. I also had a chance to try out the new Sony super 35mm sensor NX cam. This is a neat little camera, very small and fat, with a top mounted flip up LCD; it will potentially take any type of lens via an adaptor and is right in line with the image quality of the F3. Priced $5,500 without a lens, I would consider this camera over the AF100 any day.

A couple big things I noticed this year was the continued push for 3D as seen in the GoProHD 3D kit and also in LED lighting. Many venders showed LEDs but the most impressive were by Lightpanels and are housed like traditional Arri fresnels, but run cooler and have a touch screen controler for dimming with DMX built in. One of my next stops was to Red Cinema's booth to check out the Epic 5k camera. Huge crowds showed up to get a glimpse, and as expected Red had lots of cool bits and pieces to go with it including the new Clutch shoulder support. The camera itself is a great size and looks like a dream to work with. Red also showed a nice Dutch gear for mounting between your tripod head and camera and getting 180 rotating shots.

Panasonic, JVC, and Canon had a few new additions to their product lines for the show but overall nothing too impressive or memorable. Most notable was the update from Panasonic's HPX-170 to the HPX-250, adding some more manual functionality to the lense system and 30% cuts on P2 media. Adobe, on the other hand, released updates with CS5.5 production premium, providing 64 bit performance, more codecs, workflow additions, and much more.

I visited the Zacuto booth to get a look at their newly hyped EVF. And let me just say it is a pleasure to use. I have used both the Cineroid and higher end EVFs like Red's, and this one blows them all away. The resolution reminded me of an iPhone4, 6" from your eye, and the build quality is superb with a rigid metal body and professional feel. They really hit the mark on this one.

Be sure to check back as I continue my exploration of NAB 2011.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

NAB 2011 Coming Soon to Las Vegas

It's that time of year once again, when industry vendors, filmmakers, photographers, hobbyists, and electronic toy lovers come together to ogle the newest shiniest concepts in the world of broadcast and cinema. I'm talking about the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, which starts April 9th and continues on till the 14th at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The past year has seen many exciting releases in the cinema realm including new electronic viewfinders for DSLRs like the Cineroid and upcoming Zacuto EVF. Also Panasonic gave us the 4/3 sensor AF100 as well as Sony releasing the S35mm F3. Both cameras stepped up the game below the $20,000 price point with their large sensors, interchangeable mounts, and true video functionality. Yes, it has been an exciting year since the 2010 convention, but what will we see for 2011?

Well, Sony has already started sharing footage of their new NXCam boasting a S35mm sensor like its F3 big brother, and from initial specs and pricing, this camera will surely give the Af100 some real competition. On the Red front, we can expect to see big things this year. It's been about 3 years since Red One came on the scene and changed the way we look at digital cinema cameras, and this year promises to do it again with their new Epic 5K camera. The Epic comes in at only 5 pounds and is described as if holding a Hasselblad 120mm. On top of form factor improvements the Epic is spec'd at 5K resolution, includes ~18 stops of latitude, thanks to built in HDRx, and new Canon EF support with a touch-to-focus 5" LCD. Yep, if you want in, you can place your deposit starting the week of NAB; the selling price for the Epic brain is $28,000.

Regardless of what happens this year, and what major surprises are introduced for us filmmakers to snatch up, Brumar Films will be present covering the event with daily video, photo, and written updates. Be sure to check back to this blog throughout the week to see all the goodies. Also check out our Twitter feed for additional bits via @BrumarFilms or find us on Facebook. And to my colleagues attending, I'll see you in Vegas.