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Trend Spotting/NAB Preview

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Amid the frantic scramble to book NAB appointments, RSVP for party invites and, hopefully, schedule just enough time at the show for a little bit of sleep and perhaps even a meal here and there, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture: It’s all about the widgets.And this year promises some really cool new technologies, in particular in data-centric production and post. “Workflow” will be the main buzzword as manufacturers team up to demonstrate how their technologies can work together in the real world.Certainly, the Red booth will be packed again, no matter what they actually have to show. For a year now the company has built up a semi-fanatical fan base and ruffled more than a few feathers in the industry with its promises of a $17,500 4K camera. Red has already taken over 1,000 deposits of $1,000 each on cameras, sight-unseen.The company is promising its Red One camera will start to ship shortly after NAB, but it may take a while to clear the backlog of orders. The camera will use a proprietary “visually lossless” compression codec called Redcode RAW and record to a $1,000 hard drive or a $4,500 flash drive. The company is promising to show 4K footage on a Sony 4K projector in the booth to demonstrate its codec, along with a complete workflow demo built around its RedCine application (which transcodes Redcode footage into other, usable formats).The company recently announced a deal with precision lens manufacturer Cooke Optics to add Cooke’s /i Technology to the specification of its Red One camera and Red lumina and prime lenses./i technology enables film and digital cameras to automatically record key lens and camera data for every film frame shot and provide it to postproduction teams as metadata, streamlining numerous post and visual effect processes.Red joins a growing list of companies, including ARRI, Avid, Cinematography Electronics, CMotion, Preston Cinema Systems, The Pixel Farm and Service Vision in supporting /i technology.With much less fanfare Silicon Imaging will introduce its highly anticipated SI 2K camera. The company will demonstrate the workflow behind the camera along with partners Iridas, Cineform, Cine-tal and Rising Sun Research. The group has developed an innovative workflow that allows the cinematographer to shoot 2K data with the SI camera; see the images in the viewfinder with a look-up table (LUT) already applied, developed in Iridas’s SpeedGrade software; display that image on-set on a Cine-tal monitor with a LUT from Rising Sun Research that will give an accurate representation of what the film-out will look like (calibrated to various film stocks); and then pass that LUT along through the postproduction pipeline, embedded in the Cineform RAW codec as nondestructive metadata, all the way to the DI suite.According to Ari Presler, president of Silicon Imaging, “It’s an incredibly powerful set of tools, and not only for the cinematographer, but also for the entire production process. There’s never been a mechanism in place to manage the entire digital workflow process like this.”Iridas will have several demonstrations with partners who have adopted the company’s “.look” format for nondestructive look-up tables, including Vision Research, maker of the Phantom high-speed digital camera and S.Two, maker of the Digital Film Recorder, as well as ARRI.”What we’re doing together with ARRI is to create a digital dailies grading solution that works tightly with Arriscan, and here again we’re doing the same stuff that we’re trying to do in all other areas—that is to grade nondestructively,” explained Iridas president Lin Sebastian Kayser, “and to create a workflow that can actually use the .look files and apply the color information nondestructively, and save it so that you can actually communicate it to the DI in the end if you want to.”Feeding custom designed LUTs into the Arriscan will enable filmmakers to get their dailies with a nondestructive look already applied.Another partner will be Cine-tal. With CRT-grade monitors rapidly disappearing, Cine-tal’s production monitors have become wildly popular with cinematographers and crews.eCinema System will be showing its new line of CRT-replacement LCD monitors, know as the “DPX” Series.In general, LCD technology has faced an uphill struggle trying to match the quality of CRT, but company founder and CEO Martin Euredjian claims that eCinema’s new line will “beat CRTs in terms of contrast ratio, color gamut, bit depth, [and] cost of ownership.”Another cool camera demo will be the next generation in Sony’s CineAlta line—its new F23, which will be on display in the Sony booth as well as the BandPro Film and Digital booth. The camera, paired with Zeiss DigiPrimes and DigiZooms, will be available through BandPro. Company president, Amnon Band stressed that training and support are a key part of his distribution strategy for the camera.The F23 relies on three 2/3-inch, 2.2-Megabit CCDs (hence the name F23). It delivers either a 4:2:2 or 4:4:4 1920x1080P image. But the camera also features film-like ergonomics and sensibilities tailored to cinematographers’ wish lists. Thomson’s technology division will be showing a prototype DiscPack designed as a portable, high-end electronic camera recording system that stores up to two hours of uncompressed 2K content. The prototype enables the simultaneous ingest, processing and output, in real-time, of up to four 2K data streams in real-time.The company’s Grass Valley division will be showing a new version of its film scanning platform—the Grass Valley Spirit HD telecine, which scans at all SD and HD formats, in both 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 color resolutions. The new machine shares all its optical and mechanical components with the Spirit 4K film scanner, allowing the Spirit HD to be upgraded on site with just a day or two of downtime to accommodate 2K or 4K DI post.The company will also be offering lower-cost configurations of both its Spirit 2K and Spirit 4K film scanners.FilmLight will have a Grass Valley Spirit Classic telecine on the booth to demonstrate how its Baselight system can be used to control the Spirit to emulate and enhance a traditional film-to-tape workflow. da Vinci Systems and Bright Systems have teamed up to offer pre-packaged systems combining the companies’ image-enhancing and data-centric storage products. The first collaborative effort couples da Vinci’s Resolve digital mastering suite with Bright’s BrightDrive shareable media storage as a complete turnkey offering for post facilities.MTI will introduce a new 2K dailies workflow that uses a third-party color corrector as a slave for recording into the Control Dailies SAN, where metadata collection, synchronization, and tape layoff occurs. The system provides a new workflow mode that maintains a constant relationship between a full reel of film and a corresponding time-coded target.Visual effects software developer The Foundry will demonstrate its new Furnace 4 for Shake plug-in collection, which incorporates a sophisticated new dynamic range compression technology from Apical. Furnace will use Apical’s Iridix technology to automatically detect and enhance shadow regions in an image while controlling highlights in other parts of the image.Another major demo will be Adobe Systems’ new Adobe Creative Suite 3, an integrated suite of design and development tools for virtually every creative workflow. Apple is also promising a major press conference at the show, but the company is notoriously tight lipped about its plans. Don’t miss next month’s NAB Wrap up. See you in Vegas!

Written by Scott Lehane

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