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NAB Preview


By Scott Lehane
The annual National Association of Broadcasters convention, held each April in Las Vegas, is this year opening in a climate of cautious optimism.
Manufacturers are hopeful of a healthy turnout of buyers while crossing their fingers that the sluggish trends of the past few years are over. Questions being asked: Is there a turnaround? And if so, will it last?
Marc Valentin, president of Thomson Broadcast and Media Solutions, a leader in products serving both the acquisition and postproduction sectors, reports that “2003 established a new base line. There’s been some advertising revival and some revival in revenues for our key customers.” While he doesn’t see the industry going back to the heyday of 1999 or 2000, he does envisage a stabilization trend. That should come as good news for show exhibitors.
On the show floor, hot topics will include digital cinematography, new high- end film scanners, and tools for color correction. Here are some highlights of the innovations of interest to the below-the-line community.

ARRI will have a lot of new gear on the show floor. Attendees can expect to see the company’s D-20—an experiment in high-res digital imaging, which caused quite a stir at IBC last September. “It’s not even a protoype yet. It’s still in the stage of technology study,” explained ARRI’s Franz Wieser.
The D-20 was designed as an experimental test bed. It uses a single 6-million pixel CMOS sensor that features an image area comparable to that of 35mm full aperture negative. With 6 megapixels, the sensor is capable of churning out huge amounts of data. Behind the sensor, 32 twelve-bit A-D converters working in parallel are linked to an internal data bus that can handle bit rates of up to 10 Gbit/s. The camera offers dual-link HD-SDI outputs for connection to hard disk arrays.
ARRI will also be showing its new film scanner, which it introduced at IBC, termed the ARRISCAN. The hardware is based on a new concept with closed-loop calibrated LED light sources, a customized CMOS area sensor and high-speed pin registration. In addition to RGB, the LED light source allows for an additional infrared scan, which automatically identifies dust and scratches. The data can then be used for scratch removal.

ARRI Lighting will introduce a new series of professional lighting kits designed for interviews and tight locations, featuring the Studio Cool 2 Fluorescent fixture and ARRI 150, 300 or 650W Fresnels. ARRI Cool Kits combine the low wattage, soft source characteristics of the Studio Cool Fluorescent and the precise beam control of ARRI Fresnels.
ARRI Lighting is also introducing the ARRI Sky Panel, a soft, virtually shadow-free light, based on OSRAM’s flat Planon light source. The 5600K Sky Panel matches true daylight and the 3200K Sky Panel mixes perfectly with tungsten sources. Both fixtures provide a high color rendering index.
The company will also have two new Studio Cool fluorescent fixtures: the Studio Cool 2 and Studio Cool 2+2. The first uses two 55W lamps while the second features two lamp pairs side by side, ideal for widespread or low ceiling height. The wide field of the 2+2 makes a perfect fixture for chromakey applications.

Bogen Photo, exclusive U.S. distributor for Manfrotto and Gitzo tripods and heads, Avenger lighting grip, I.F.F. ceiling-mounted lighting suspension, Metz on-camera flash systems, Gossen light meters, Elinchrom studio lighting systems and a wide host of additional product lines will have several new products on display.
Formatt Filters will be showing two new lens filters specifically designed for use with high-definition cinematography: the Soft Effects and Skin Tone Enhancement filters.
The Formatt Soft Effects filters are manufactured using a process that essentially creates an optical distortion throughout the filter. This clean distortion is the result of strategically placed optical dots within the filter surface, which creates an even softening with the object.
The Formatt Skin Tone Enhancers will be available in a set of three different densities. Each density grade is designed to be used with subjects of different flesh tones: Density 1 for dark, Density 2 for medium, and Density 3 for subjects with light or pale complexions. Each progression in filter density involves an increased level of UV and color compensation to allow for the radiance and brilliance of each flesh tone
Bogen Photo will be showing two new additions to Manfrotto’s Video Camera Remote Control lines: the 521 and 523 LANC Remote Controls. To meet the needs of videographers who shoot Mini DV and Hi8 cameras, Manfrotto’s 521 Series Remote Control products, (the 521 and 521P) are designed to work with Mini-DV camcorders from Sony and Canon. The 521 offers most of the controls found on mini digital video cameras themselves. The 521P zoom controller was specifically designed for use with the Panasonic AG-DVC80 and AG-DVX100 model camcorders. The 523 Series offers record/stop, focus-in, focus-out, power, and standby buttons. The remote also permits switching between left-to-right and right-to-left zoom, a feature that is useful for left-handed videographers.
Bogen will also be showing five new digital studio flash products from Elinchrom, including three new compact digital monolights and two digital RX power packs. Elinchrom’s Digital RX series feature a large digital LED display and interfaces with a Windows or Mac computer that can remotely control all functions, including modeling lamp control. The three monolights offer rapid recycling times, action-freezing flash duration, and a five-volt trigger voltage that ensures delivery of the light head’s full power to a digital camera without harm to the electronics.

Kodak will be attending NAB with two new additions to the company’s Vision2 color negative film stock. The new stocks add 100- and 200-speed, ultra-fine-grain color negative films with specialized imaging characteristics to the Kodak Vision2 product line. The new films leverage what the company is promoting as “a quantum leap forward in photochemical science and technology.”
Kodak Vision2 100T Color Negative Film 5212/7212 is rated for an exposure index of 100 in 3200 degrees Kelvin tungsten light. Kodak Vision2 200T Color Negative Film 5217/7217 is rated for an exposure index of 200 in 3200 degrees Kelvin tungsten light. Both new films offer advances in under- and over-exposure latitude, extremely fine grain and enhanced capacities for recording subtle details in highlights and shadows. They are available in 16, 35 and 65mm formats. The new films are optimized for both digital and optical postproduction applications.

For J.L. Fisher’s director of marketing Frank Kay, “The cool thing that we’ll have at the show is the Model 23 Jib, which is a sectional jib in 3 foot increments.” He added that, “We’re thinking it’s going to be a really good show this year. It bounced back last year, after the previous year’s show. People seem to be traveling more.”
Another cool new piece of equipment from J.L. Fisher is its 6E Electric Sound Boom base, which has replaced all of the hydraulic controls with electric controls.

Scott Stueckle, who is Kino Flo’s director of marketing and sales, explained that, “The stuff we showed last year as R&D is finished and will be displayed in its complete form. For example, we have a Parabeam 200 now that was in a R&D state last year. It is now for sale.”
The Parabeam 200 offers the same precise control features found on the larger ParaBeam 400, which yields a highly focused soft beam that can be turned from a wide angle exposure to a narrow shaft of light.
“Another product that we showed last year was the Kamio 6 and the Kamio 6E,” adds Stueckle. “Those have been redesigned—not only the fixture mount, but also the electronics, so they can be camera-mounted. The electronics could fit in the palm of your hand therefore they could be mounted anywhere on the camera, so that everything runs off the camera battery if you’re a video shooter.”
The Kamio 6 and Kamio 6E ring lights are designed to be mounted on the front of video cameras such as the Canon XL1. “For us it essentially changed the face of lighting because now we have an on-camera, camera accessory lighting system that is being embraced by not only the high-end guys but also small independent feature producers.”
The company will also introduce two new DMX remote lighting systems: the Select 4 Bank DMX system for running products 15 inches to 4 feet in length and the Mega DMX system for operating 6 foot to 8 foot-sized Kino Flos.

Panavision is starting to look beyond its traditional core market for additional revenue streams. Bob Beitcher, president and CEO, explained that “Panavision is embarking down another path…bringing its truly innovative design and manufacturing capabilities to other industries like sports broadcasting, news gathering, homeland security and surveillance, where high-quality imaging is absolutely critical. Along with our core business in filmed entertainment, this represents an exciting growth opportunity for Panavision.”
As part of this strategy, at NAB the company will debut a new 300x Digital Zoom Lens for HD live production. In addition to a 300:1 zoom ratio (from 7mm to 2100mm), the Panavision 300x Digital Zoom Lens offers a very wide field of view at the short focal length, as well as other features like continuous zoom (without the use of image degrading drop-in extenders); continuous focusing through zoom; instantaneous optical breathing control at short focal lengths; and low distortion over virtually all of the zoom and focus ranges.
The lens is the result of several years of R&D from Panavision’s optical team—and of the company’s decision to apply its Primo cine optics expertise to other markets. Initial research on a lens for the broadcast market began four years ago, when the highest available zoom was under 100 times. “At the time, it was clear that certain applications required a zoom ratio well in excess of what was available,” said Iain Neil, Panavision’s executive VP and CTO. “Our goal was to design a lens in excess of 100 times. We decided there was no easy way with conventional optics, so we invented a new kind of optical design.”
The company will also have a new remote control system called the Panavision RDC. Designed for HD and film cameras, it offers wireless remote focus, T-stop and zoom functions. The handheld unit has a built-in LCD screen to display live video assist image, camera function screen or lens data information.
The company will also introduce a digital high-resolution color viewfinder eyepiece called the Ultraview Color Viewfinder, as well as Laser-based range finding system called the Long Ranger.

Thomson Grass Valley has added DataCine functionality to its Spirit 4K Film Scanner, giving it SD and HD outputs in 4:4:4 RGB and YUV. As a film scanner, the Spirit 4K is capable of 2K scanning in real time and 4K scanning at up to 7.5 fps with a high-speed Gigabyte Systems Network (GSN) data output.
The new DataCine option will give colorists and telecine operators a host of new features, including zooming, panning, rotation, contour correction and several different presets for different film formats.
The Spirit 4K DataCine is expected to be shipping by NAB, priced around $1.5 million.
The company will also be showing off a new hybrid fiber system for the Grass Valley LDK 6000 mk II WorldCam, which supports high-bandwidth transmission of high-definition (HD) video up to 4,000 meters over fiber-optic cable; as well as a new SDI multi-core camera system for LDK 300 and LDK 500 camera users.
Targeted at mobile companies and other broadcasters producing live entertainment, and news programming, the new hybrid fiber system features a camera adapter and fiber modules for its base station. The new SDI multi-core camera system offers high performance and flexibility for mid- and small-size broadcasters and video professionals in everything from sports production and remote-controlled broadcasting environments to security and conference applications.
In addition to an LDK 300 or an LDK 500 camera head equipped with IT, ITW, FT or DPM sensor, the system includes a compact multipurpose adapter, a maximum of 100 meters of multi-core cable, a base unit, and a choice of camera control panels. The system also supports Thomson’s installed base of LDK 100 and LDK 200 users.

Cooke Optics will unveil its new Cooke S4/i motion picture lens information system at the ZCG Booth. (ZCG is exclusive North American distributor for Cooke Optics, P+S Technik and OpTex.)
The Cooke S4/i lens system provides cinematographers and camera operators with real-time information on lens setting, focusing distance, aperture and depth-of-field. The system is designed for use with any PL mount camera body and with LDS equipped cameras. The system makes use of absolute encoders positioned inside the lens that monitor the focus, zoom and iris settings.
ZGC is also inviting attendees to participate in hands-on demos of the Cooke S4 HD Zoom Lens 8-46mm T1.7 (5.75 x 8 f 1.4) mounted on an HD camera. Attendees can also try out the new P+S Technik Oszi 400 Series Mini35 Digital Image Converter. Oszi will also be on display in the Panasonic both mounted on a Panasonic’s 24p AG-DVX100A / E and at the Canon booth mounted on an XL1.
Like the existing Mini35Digital Image Converter, the Oszi 400 Series Mini35 allows users to attach 35mm motion picture film lenses to MiniDV cameras. The company claims that the new Oszi 400 Series Mini35 Digital Image Converter provides virtually the same depth of field, focus and angle of view as a 35mm motion picture film camera.

Helinet Aviation Services is debuting a high-definition aerial camera system at NAB. The Helinet/Cineflex® HiDEF is the lightest, most compact, fully digital aerial camera platform in the world and the first system in the U.S. to capture and transmit aerial high definition images for live broadcast.
The Helinet/Cineflex HiDEF is the product of Helinet’s recent acquisition of Cineflex, LLC, a company specializing in motion control camera systems. Designed by Cineflex founder John Coyle, the Cineflex HiDEF is built around Sony’s HDC-950 and the new HDC-F950 cameras. It is the latest in Helinet/Cineflex’s line of gyro-stabilized aerial camera systems and the first to accommodate high-definition.
Denver TV station, KUSA, will be the first broadcaster in the country to broadcast live hi-def aerial images on its news programming via the Helinet/Cineflex HiDEF digital camera system. Microwave Radio Communications (MRC) will provide the microwave transmission technology that will enable this historical accomplishment.
Says J.P. Alpaugh, Director of Operations for Helinet, “It was quite a melding of minds for Helinet, MRC and KUSA to coordinate all the installations that had to be done to pull this off, but the challenges were met and now we are about to make history.”
Other stations slated for upcoming adoption of the camera system are the news departments of KPNX, Phoenix; KGO, San Francisco and WNBC, New York.

Xytech Systems, the workflow systems management developer, has teamed with DAX Solutions, Inc., the digital asset management company that serves the entertainment and communications industries.
The newly integrated solution will incorporate complete physical and digital asset management, with workflow tools to enable digital fulfillment, on-demand access to media libraries and an online ordering system tied to a company’s billing system, in addition to work orders and scheduling for product fulfillment.
Xytech’s Enterprise system provides a wide selection of job costing, billing, order processing, purchasing, rental management, inventory control, scheduling, and finance functions. DAX provides a highly secure, targeted web-based digital asset management solution designed to help film and television production companies and stock footage libraries reduce costs by sharing resources, enhancing collaboration and speeding distribution.
“Our relationship with DAX will allow us to offer a great, robust asset management system for both digital and physical media assets,” said Xytech CEO, Richard Gallagher. “[It] will allow our customers to share metadata for all of their media assets, whether those assets are stored on a server or in a vault. They can do federated searches and they won’t have any problems with duplication of metadata.”
“We believe that Xytech works perfectly in conjunction with our DAX system to create a comprehensive platform for producers of content enabling complete asset management, both physical and digital,” said Patrick Macdonald-King, CEO of DAX.

Fujinon will introduce its newest Compact C Cine Style HDTV zoom lens at NAB. Designed for documentary and major motion picture production, the HAc18x7.6-F zoom is small and lightweight, de-signed for shooting on 2/3-inch HD cameras. Other lenses in the Compact C Series of Cine Style HD zoom lenses include the HAc15x7.3 and the HAc13x4.5B.
“The need for a comprehensive set of compact lenses designed specifically for digital cinematography that give the shooter creative freedom is what prompted us to develop the Compact C series,” said Dave Waddell, Marketing Manager for Fujinon.
It boasts a wider angle and higher magnification (18x) than Fujinon’s previous model, the HA17x7.8B-10. A maximum photometric aperture of T1.9 gives more latitude in controlling depth of field. The new lens offers focus rotation of 280 degrees for easier and more exact focusing, with little focus “breathing.” Minimal chromatic aberration and improved edge-to-edge sharpness provide better image quality for digital imaging.
Combined with an exceptionally long focal length of 7.6-137mm, the HAc18x7.6 has a wide angle of view of 64 degrees at 7.6mm and captures images with a Minimum Object Distance of .84m from the image plane. It also features colored scales with focus, zoom, and iris settings etched on both sides of the lens barrel for easy reading. Scales are available in feet (HAc18x7.6-F) or meters (HAc18x7.6-M).

CrewStar, the production crew resourcing service, is returning to NAB with a booth manned by Joe Maiella, senior VP, marketing and sales, and Dave Calderwood, featuring a clip reel from CrewStar shoots. Information about CrewStar’s timesaving and IRS compliant crew and talent payroll services will also be available.
“Our clients span the electronic media communications industry,” said Maiella. “The reason for the diversity in our client base stems from breadth and quality of our service lines—from international video production crew booking services to employer of record payroll services for U.S.-based productions.”
“We had a terrific response to our presence last year at NAB”, said Maiella, “and are looking forward to an even bigger show in 2004. Many producers and managers felt a lot more comfortable with entrusting their business to CrewStar. We’re big enough to fulfill just about any request, but we’re also flexible and can tailor our services to a client’s needs. In this market, that means a great deal to producers who depend on a reliable production partner to save time and prevent headaches in production administration so that they can focus on the creative aspects of their business.”

BOXX Technologies will introduce the HDV [pro] editing workstation at NAB and solidify a new business relationship with CineForm, Inc. to offer Aspect HD as an add-on option to the new system.
BOXX will offer the system at less than $3,200. The HDV [pro] gives price-sensitive customers a powerful way to quickly and seamlessly incorporate HD video into their workflow.
Aspect HD uses a visually lossless CFHD codec to deliver four or more HD video streams for real-time editing, including transitions, effects, color adjustments, title and graphic overlays and motion. The system captures directly from JVC’s JY-HD10U and GR-HD1 camcorders and JVC’s high-definition D-VHS deck over 1394 Firewire and exports to a variety of HD or standard-def output formats such as MPEG2-HD, Windows Media 9 and standard DVD.
“As the use of HD expands, new products continue to enter the market with a promise to simplify working with HD video footage,” says Ed Caracappa, director of sales and marketing at BOXX. “CineForm’s Aspect HD software delivers on that promise by seamlessly working with Adobe Premiere Pro to edit high-definition video in real time. We’re so impressed with this solution; we believe it is a powerful extension to our robust suite of digital video editing workstations.”
“CineForm’s Aspect HD continues to take the HD world by storm,” said David Taylor, CEO of CineForm, Inc. “By combining Aspect HD with the power and quality of the BOXX editing systems, BOXX is able to provide an unprecedented level of price performance for postproduction professionals.”
BOXX workstations and rendering systems can be used on anything from animation, game development and CAD to DV, SD and HD. Available in single-or dual-processor configurations featuring the latest AMD Athlon and Opteron processors and Intel Pentium 4 and Xeon processors, BOXX workstations and render nodes support popular software from companies such as Adobe, Alias, Autodesk, Discreet, Newtek and Softimage.

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