NAB 2011

Posted by Mike McCarthy on April 15th, 2011 filed in Hardware News, Software News

I did get a chance to check out some of the new products available at NAB.  These are the things that stood out to me:

Cineform’s big news was their acquisition by GoPro, and a reduction of their prices.  Neo (Previously “Neo4K”) is now $300 and the full Neo3D is $1000.  There is also a new free utility called the GoPro Cineform Studio posted on the GoPro site, designed to help users easily process their footage from the new GoPro3D.  That download effectively makes the basic Cineform codec freely available to anyone who needs it.  I highly recommend having the Cineform codec available on any system you do video work on, since it is a useful cross-platform compression format.

Adobe announced the next step for the Creative Suite line, which is a .5 update for most of the products.  Premiere 5.5 adds merged clips for better sync sound support, and some improvements to exports and Media EncoderAfter Effects 5.5 has a new Warb stabilizer, that should help fix rolling shutter artifacts in DSLR footage, among other uses, and it also has new options and presets for stereoscopic work, primarily focused on motion graphics.  Soundbooth has been totally replaced by the return of Audition as a standard part of the suite, which should improve support for multitrack editing and surround sound.  There are a variety of new features in the update, but nothing totally revolutionary.

AJA has a few new things to show.  The Kona 3G now supports outputting 3G SDI signal on all four ports at once, allowing preview of 4K media at full resolution, provided that you have a 4K display available.  They have updated their frame convertor with the FS2, adding support for HDMI and 3G SDI.  I am still trying to figure out if their implementation of 3G includes support for 2K over SDI, which could make it a useful tool in DCI theater systems.  They also showed off a new piece of hardware under development that they are calling Riker.  It is an external box connnected via 8x PCIe, that could support stereoscopic 4K at some point in the future.

Blackmagic has a variety of new products on display.  The Hyperdeck Shuttle allows uncompressed recording of SDI or HDMI to a SATA based SSD.  At $345 it is a bargain, until you count in the price of an SSD that supports uncompressed HD capture.  They will also have a rack mount version with two drive slots called the Hyperdeck Studio.  Among other things, they have a new Decklink 4K I/O card with 4 channels of SDI for $600, and some more live video switching products as a result of their acquisition of ATEM last year.  A stripped down version of DaVinci Resolve was announced, that will be available as a free download, which should further bring advanced color correction to the masses.

Sony has a variety of new products available.  Their OLED based displays look amazing, but are still quite expensive.  With the lack of HDCam-SR tapes available from Japan, Sony’s new SRMaster series of solid-state media products are probably going to get a big external boost into the market.  The new SRMaster devices replace tapes with 1TB SRMemory modules that use the same MPEG4 codec as HDCam-SR tapes, but with many benefits, including direct access to the compressed file format, and faster transfer options.  In the camera world, the F65 is Sony’s first 4K camcorder, writing 16bit 4K files to SRMemory, captured from what Sony describes as an 8K CMOS sensor.  On a more practical front, the PMW-F3 looks like a great camera for many applications.  While I don’t like the formfactor, the large single-sensor CMOS should produce an image similar to the look and feel that DSLRs have made popular.  That fact that it can output 4:4:4 RGB over the dual SDI outputs on the back is an impressize option.  Sony also has a small stereoscopic 3D camera coming out, that records to the same MVC format that 3D BluRays use.  There will also be an update released for Vegas 10 that will allow encoding of 3D BluRays, and that feature alone could make it worth purchasing, if you expect to need that capability anytime soon.

Convergent Design has a new recorder on display, the Gemini 444, which records uncompressed SDI at 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 to SSD drives.  I am still a bigger fan of their original MPEG2 based NanoFlash devices, since that is a more efficient use of space.  On the other hand, the dual link recording option is nice for stereoscopic 3D work, or VFX plates and greenscreen shots, especially if you have a new PMW-F3 with full RGB SDI output.

There are a variety of video I/O devices on display that use the new Thunderbolt connectivity technology, but they are all probably a ways off from being released as finished products.  They will be faster than USB3, but besides the daisy chain option, I see no immediate advantage over ExpressCard based I/O products.  AJA, Blackmagic, and Matrox all had their own flavor of external device hooked up to new Macbook Pro  laptops under glass.  Combining these devices with Thunderbolt based storage solutions will greatly enhance the expandability of laptop systems, especially for onset media management and review work.

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