So after a busy day, spent mostly in the Cineform booth on Tuesday, I finally got a chance to continue exploring today. There are a few more products that jumped out at me, mostly hardware products since they are easier to grasp in a short period of time that software, which usually requires a more extensive demonstration before its new capabilities become clear. This makes explaining Cineform’s new offerings a challenge, especially when you take into account that there are few other options with which to compare their new capabilities to.
Matrox released a couple of new products, including a new laptop capable I/O solution. The MXO2 Mini gives HDMI I/O as well as component video for those still stuck in the analog world. That solution has potential, and will likely be in direct competition with AJA’s new I/O Express, which I will detail more about tomorrow. They both leverage a PCIe interface, accessable through the ExpressCard slot on a laptop. My initial thought is that Matrox’s solution is less capable, with no SDI, but has a much better Windows compatible compressed HD option, in MPEG I-Frame HD. Since laptops don’t usually have video raids, solid HD compression is important in a mobile device like that. On the OSX side, I expect both will support ProRes, so they are covered there. There is also an option to incorporate Matrox’s other new product Matrox MAX, right into the box. Matrox MAX is a hardware accelerator for H.264 encoding. Based on their demonstration, it seems to be a much more effective accelerator than the QuadroCX, but is very limited in scope, as it only processes H264 encodes, and only to specific resolutions, although any frame size I could think of was on the list. Matrox MAX is available as an option included in the MXO line of products, or as a separate PCIe card in the CompressHD, presumably to complement the AXIO line of products, but it is cross platform and will function as a freestanding product.
Sony has a number of new toys that span the budget gamut. On the high end, the SRW 9000 is an HDCam-SR camcorder with capabilities similar to the F23, and an all in one shoulder-mount formfactor like the F900. With option boards, this unit is capable of recording up to 60fps at full raster 1920×1080, with up to 10bit 4:4:4 RGB of color information. The next step below SR is really XDCam-HD422 at this point, since regular HDCAM is basically obselete. The new PDW-F800 basically replaces all of the functionality of the F900 (30i/p, 25/44p, etc.) plus the advantages of full 1920×1080 recording in 4:2:2 instead of HDCam’s 1440×1080 at about 3:1:1. The 50Mb files can also be edited in their native form in almost any NLE, and can be accessed in a non-linear fashion directly from the storage disk. (No rewinding, preroll, or realtime capture required) The new camera even has a network jack right on the side for copying the recorded files to a network, and can dump the proxies to a USB flash drive if you want to go that route. That won’t be necessary for any workflow I will use, since Premiere, FCP, and even Avid can access the full resolution files directly without import conversions, for truly native editing. Finally a workflow that is actually designed to “work” and “flow.” Sony also had a number of new LCD monitors on display, including a 4K one, two circular polarized 3D screens, and two new 30″ and 17″ additions to their BVM line of LCDs. The 3D screens look great, and while I couldn’t confirm the inner workings, with a single input, it seems to use an interface technology that would be compatible with Cineform’s new Neo3D software that I have been demo-ing all week.
The only thing I was really impressed with at the Panasonic booth was that they created an Economy line of P2 cards, but I have yet to find the specifics on the new pricing levels. With $900 being the minimum price, an economy option was definitely needed. SxS cards at least have SDHC based replacement options, which is especially ironic since the P2 cards are rumored to physically contain 4 SDHC cards. Panasonic also has a new 3D plasma screen, based on sequential alternating frames, which requires active 3D shutter glasses. I have also heard they have a new 10bit 1080p projector for $2400 that I should go check out tomorrow.
NVIDIA has released OSX drivers for the QuadroFX 4800, so it seems that that will probably become the highend card of choice for those purchasing the new MacPro, which was recently revised with Nehalem based Xeon CPUs. I have been pleased with the performance I get from my equivalent QuadroCX card, and I am looking forward to trying a QuadroFX 5800 on my SpeedGradeDI system sometime in the near future.