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NAB 2009: Industry Gathers for Annual Confab

June 8, 2009 | By

I haven’t been to a NAB show since they were in Los Angeles, so I was amazed at the scope of the event. I had hoped to cover all the new products that were unveiled at the show, but there were over 458 new products debuted in Vegas! So I decided to focus on what I knew, and frankly, I could use. So let me apologize for any omissions. Let’s start with the buzzwords. This year, I was hearing a lot about stereoscopic 3D. Over 20 3D movie titles are expected to be made this year and according to some reports, there will be close to 3,000 3D theaters by the end of the year.

Avid was showing its new 3.5 software, which now supports editing in 3D. Of course, the real news there was Avid’s new Media Architecture, which supports P2 and XDCAM files so users can just mount a drive and start editing without transcoding into Avid’s propriety format. CineForm was showing their new Neo3D software that lets you edit in 3D on a Final Cut Pro system.

Keisoku Giken Co. was showcasing their UDR-20S, a 4K 4:4:4 RGB recorder/player that is ideally suited for 3D production with 8-channel, HD-SDI video I/O so it can record two streams of 2K video at once. 3ality Digital announced its new 3DIQ certification training program. Panasonic was showing the 3D Full HD Plasma Home Theater System and the prototype “dual lens in one” P2 Camera. JVC also showed their 46 inch HD 3D LCD Monitor.

Speaking of JVC, they were also showing the new GY-HM700 and GYHM100 camcorders that support all major HD signal formats, recording to two economical SDHC memory cards. The 16GB cards are advertised for under $30, cheap enough to archive! And they record native format Quicktime files that are instantly editable by Final Cut Pro. The HM700 can also record simultaneously to SxS cards from Sony in MP4 (XDCAM EX HD) format with the optional KA-MR100, making it’s own backup and adding flexibility.

And speaking of economical, Panasonic announced the new “E” series of P2 cards that are faster and cost less than the old cards at $625 for a 32GB (although they may not last much longer than five years).

I’ve also been hearing a lot about Canon’s still camera, the EOS 5D Mark II (introduced last fall), which couples a full-frame, low-light sensitive CMOS sensor with the ability to capture 1080P video as well as stills. There are now accessories for it like the “Sharp Shooter” from Zacuto. It has a pistol grip, shoulder pad, base plate and lens rods. For lighter, smaller, and cheaper, try their “Gorilla Kits.” Zacuto also makes an adapter arm that holds one of the new Handy audio recorders. That is necessary for good audio because the camera has a minijack input, auto gain control, limiting and compression and no monitoring capabilities. BeachTek also had adapters for plugging professional microphones into it.

Matrox introduced Compress HD, a half-length PCIe card that creates H.264 files for resolutions ranging from iPod to HD, faster than real time.

AJA Video Systems debuted Ki Pro—a tapeless video recording device that records ProRes 4:2:2 files to a removable Storage Module or ExpressCard 34, and because it features SD/HD-SDI, HDMI and analog inputs, you can interface it with virtually any camera you own or can rent. They also debuted the io Express, which is an inexpensive interface for laptops with ExpressCard 34 slots that works with ProRes 4:2:2, XDCAM HD, DVCPRO HD and more, providing professional i/o options including LTC, RS422, HD/ SD SDI, HDMI, HD/SD Component and 2 RCA outs.

Blackmagic Design had 17 new hardware products and five software upgrades. They had several converters in their Decklink and Multibridge family that now have optical fiber options. Nearly all of their converters can run at 3 Gb, (twice the former speed, allowing 1080P or 4:4:4 video to pass using one instead of two wires). Most impressive was the Enterprise Video Hub with 144 x 288 SD, HD and 3 Gb SDI switching router as well as the smaller 72 x 144 and 16 x 32 routers all controllable by Video Hub 4.0 upgrade software that turns any 20- or 24-inch touch-screen monitor into a routing panel.

Even more new products came from Sony—30 to be exact! The most awaited of course, was the PDW-F800 XDCAM HD 4:2:2 camcorder that has all the features of the 700, plus variable frame rates. Sony software unveiled Vegas 9, which now offers native support for opening and editing RED One (.r3d) camera files on the timeline for a scalable 4K workflow. High-end image formats like DPX and open EXR are also supported and you can now use gigapixel-size images directly on the timeline.

Arri announced the new Arriscan 2K, their entry-level scanner for the DI market, commercials and 2K or HD remastering. It can be upgraded step-by-step up to full 4K as needed.

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