I just returned from yet another week in Las Vegas for NAB 2013. I was in the AJA booth again, showing off 4K editing in Premiere Pro, output to a 4K display through the Kona 3G. Compared to last year, which was basically cuts only, the newer systems are fast enough for full effects to be rendered on the fly. So I am looking forward to putting that capability to good use in the near future. AJA also had the KiPro Quad on hand and shipping after last year’s announcement, and few other new products. I can respect their new policy of not announcing products that are not ready to ship, to combat the trend thoughout the industry for vaporware. It is nice to know what is coming when planning future projects, but frustrating when it doesn’t arrive when expected.
4K was the big deal again, similar to last year, with the addition on UltraHD broadcast products being announced. I will do a separate article on the significance of the development of 6Gb SDI, but I expect that technology will see much more rapid acceptance than 3G SDI did. Slightly less significant, but important non the less, the first 12Gb SAS products are starting to appear, as are initial 16Gb fibre channel adaptors. 12Gb SAS will only affect SSDs, but for frame caching, that will be very helpful as we more to higher resolutions. 16Gb Fibre is important as that allows uncompressed 4K over a single channel.
Blackmagic Design announced a slew of new products, as usual, but it will be interesting to see when they end up shipping. The most significant announcements are for new variants of their Digital Cinema Camera. On the upper end there is a 4K capable model, which ironically only shoots QuadHD 3840 files instead of DCI spec 4096 ones. On the lower end a $1000 Pocket model using four-thirds lenses at 1080p. DaVinci Resolve 10 adds better timeline and conform editing options to the widely successful finishing and coloring tool. They also have new video and audio monitoring hardware, in the form of their $1000 SmartScope Duo, and $1500 Audio Monitor.
Red finally has their RedRay 4K playback device available, after talking about it for years. They also announced a new accelerator card, the Red Rocket-X, which is supposed to be five times more powerful than the original model. They had a pretty cool setup of their booth, where viewers could watch camera’s being upgraded with the new 6K Dragon sensors, in a clean room they had built on the show floor. So there will soon be a deluge of 6K R3D files hitting post houses around the world. I am not sure the benefit of 6K over 5K, when content is obviously destined for 4K delivery, but we have it available now.
Vision Research has a new high speed Flex4K camera that shoots 1000fps, and seems to be much easier to use. It is self contained with a touch-screen for control, instead of requiring a separate computer to operate it. We used the Phantom for a few shots on Act of Valor, so we might try the new version on our next 4K project.
The big piece of the puzzle that is still missing in the 4K puzzle, is monitoring. Besides DCI projectors for $100K, and large LCDs that are nearly as expense, there is no way for a normal person to view 4K. The closest thing I have heard of is Sharp’s 32″ 4K LCD, which is only available in Japan. We had one in the AJA booth, and if I end up needing a 4K display anytime soon, I will have to try to import one of those. Not a reference monitor, but it would allow me to QC footage at full resolution in a 4K conform, and could be useful for de-noise and digital grain passes as well.
HP had their Spectre XT 4010 laptop on the show floor, which is one of the first PCs with Thunderbolt. We will probably get one at the office to start testing Thunderbolt accessories with. The primary thing I am interested in is faster portable storage, since USB3 never actually provides 500MB/s of bandwidth.
On the software end, Avid announced Media Composer 7, which primarily focuses on integrating support for their Interplay server functionality. Interplay, which is a media management extension of their ISIS storage products, is now available much cheaper as well. This seems to be in response to Adobe’s upcoming release of Edit Anywhere. All of the Avid options are much cheaper, with Symphony now $2500 and a regular license of Media Composer $1000.
Adobe was showing off new versions of their software, but details about when we might see those features available are hard to come by. Things are a bit confusing to the end user as Adobe transitions all of their products to Creative Cloud, which is a subscription based service, instead of purchasing individual products. This should allow them to bring out new features more regularly, as they are developed and needed. I will publish more details about the specific features of the new versions, once it is clearer when they will become available. In the meantime, feel free to sign up for Creative Cloud to get access to them as they are released.