NAB 2014 Wrap Up

Blackmagic Design had a variety of new products on display at NAB.  The single most interesting one from my perspective is their new film scanner from recently acquired Cintel.  Everything I hear is always “film is dead.”  If that is true, why would anyone be interested in buying a film scanner?  And while we can now scan our own film for $30K, how are we going to get it developed.  The previous process that I am accustomed to, is to send your exposed negative to the lab, and they send you back an HDCam-SR tape, or a stack of DPX files.  Instead, getting the negative back to scan on your own doesn’t seem very appealing.  I imagine that it is aimed at customers who have a lot of existing film on hand, which was processed in the past, that they now want to digitize.  But is there really that big of a market for that?  It will be interesting to see.

Blackmagic Design also announced two new camera designs.  The Studio Camera looks a little unconventional to say the least, with it’s 10″ display, topping their previous entry into that awkward category.  But it seems like it will pair well with their line of ATEM video switchers.  And the feature set they were able to integrate into a single fiber line is quite impressive, including talkback, tally, program feed, and full remote CCU control.  The Micro Four Thirds lens mount seems a bit strange to me, but if it can be adapted as easily as they claim, then it should be accepted.  While I understand why they have both HD and UHD models, it seems like the $1K of added cost for the UHD model would make the HD model obsolete from release date.  And I don’t know where this huge push to 60p came from, but it is all I was getting asked about at the show.  Why wasn’t this such a big deal in 1080p?  But I can see how that feature would be beneficial when these cameras are used in sports telecasts.  But none of the existing switchers will support the 4Kp60 mode yet, so I imagine I know what they will announce at IBC.

Their second new camera is the URSA, with a slightly more traditional form factor.  The URSA is more like a 4K recorder with a replaceable sensor.  This is made apparent by the option to buy the HDMI model, which has no sensor, but is designed to be connected to a DSLR.  The sensor options are Super35 sized EF or PL mounts, or a smaller sensor for broadcast B4 lenses.  The sensors on all of their “4K Cameras” are limited to 3840×2160, and are therefore actually UltraHD instead of true 4K, which is a bit disappointing, and somewhat limiting for eventual 4K DCP deliver.  Regardless of the sensor options, the recorder has three touch-screens, a large 10″ fold out monitor, and 5″ control displays on either side of the body.  It records ProRes or CinemaDNG to dual CFast2.0 card slots.  CFast cards are still hard to find, and surprisingly expensive.  It has the expected SDI, TC, and audio I/O, plus Ref and LANC.  The 12Gb SDI doesn’t go anywhere yet, but I assume they have products that will ingest that in the pipeline.  While most other companies are still on 3G-SDI, is 24Gb on their roadmap for next year?

Red Camera announced a 4K SDI output option for their cameras, which seems years overdue.  Panasonic was showing the Varicam 35, which is a large single sensor imager, and of course supports 4K.  I didn’t see much new at Sony, at least on the high end.  They have so many options on the low end, with XDCAM, EX, NX and a few others that I can’t keep track of what is actually new.  Canon didn’t have any new cameras, but had a new 30-300mm Cinema lens that generated some attention.

HP released their refresh of the Dreamcolor line.  There is a new 24″ model is under $600, but doesn’t include the full feature set.  The new 27″ model is under $1500 for the now popular 2560×1440 resolution.  The good news is that the Dreamcolor Engine 2 is not limited to Progressive RGB inputs, but should work with any source, which was a huge limitation in the past.  I am still looking for a smaller 17″ model, with a 12v power input, to be used on set, or with a laptop.

Anyhow, I am quite happy that my tenth NAB show is behind me.  Nothing at the show really blew me away, but it will be interesting to see what happens with this 4K transition.

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