Held annually in Amsterdam, the IBC was among my favorite conventions back in my days when I covered the show regularly. Of course part of that draw was Amsterdam itself; this vibrant, walkable city wears its history lightly and makes sure daily enjoyment is always on the schedule. But IBC has become a big draw over time too. It offers a much more relaxed pace than NAB, allowing the visitor to catch up with all the new technology released in April in Las Vegas but that often gets drowned out in that show’s frenetic scene.
Among the usual spate of PR at the show, Sony’s F65 camcorder and Adobe’s announcement of the purchase of the Iridas IP stand out as bellwether developments. Sony’s true 4K camera system–that’s how they describe it–would be just another piece of high-end kit but for its near bargain basement pricing. Meanwhile Adobe’s buyout emphasizes that the San Jose-based company is dead serious about making Premiere Pro the most desirable and widely used NLE in place of Final Cut Pro’s fading glory.
Here’s our quick overview of what I consider some of the more interesting technology introduced at the Amsterdam event.
Cameras and the Support They Deserve
Arri announced the Alexa Studio, which features an optical viewfinder with a spinning mirror shutter like a traditional film camera. With its taller sensor sensor (4:3 aspect ratio), it works with anamorphic lenses. The sensor section of the split-head Alexa M connects to the rest of the camera (with the signal processor and recording section) by way of a fiber cable. This makes it ideal for use in the copter mounts, car interiors and 3D beamsplitter rigs.
Ikonoskop A-cam dII
Swedish company Ikonoskop showed the latest version of its A-cam dII, described as a “16mm digital motion picture camera.” That refers to its Aaton-like form factor as well as its 16mm-sized sensor and ability to use 16mm/Super 16 cine lenses. It shoots uncompressed 1920 x 1080 RAW in the CinemaDNG format.
Ikegami presented more of its proposed “lower cost” HDS-F90 camcorder, which still doesn’t have a specific release date. The single sensor camcorder will use a 4K 4/3-inch CMOS sensor, use PL-Mount lenses, and record at 100Mbps to Ikegami’s GFCAM solid-state recording system.
JVC’s GY-HM150 optionally records in both SD and HD formats and features dual SDHC/SDXC card slots for simultaneous recording to both cards for instant back-up or seamless relay recording between cards for continuous shooting.
P+S Technik PS Cam X35
German company P+S TECHNIK, long known for its camera mods, recently got into the camera business with its film-style PS-Cam X35. The company notes that the project started out creating a high-speed camera–it runs to 450 fps–then added standard sync speeds. The camera features a 35mm-sized CMOS imager, speed ramping and a global shutter.
Panasonic shows it’s serious about staking a position as a 3D market leader by giving the crowds another look at its new shoulder-mounted AG-3DP1 camcorder. Shown originally at NAB 2011, it builds on their prior 3DA1 camera but moves it into a shoulder-mounted form factor with larger chips. Featuring two 1/3-inch 3MOS chips and a twin-lens system, convergence point information is now easier to adjust: The camera will display different color blocks over areas of the image that are either too close to the camera, or too far based on the convergence point. Pricing was also announced: $34,950 when it’s released in December.
Panasonic announced a bit more news about its AVC Ultra recording format, which was announced some time ago. The AVC Intra 4:4:4 format will feature 12 bit 4:4:4 color at 400 Mbps, AVC Intra 4:2:2 10 bit at 200 Mbps, while AVC Long-G (Long GOP) is 10-bit 4:2:2 at 25-50 Mbps. Support will go to 4K at some point.
Head for Sachtler Ace Tripod
With its roots in Munich, Germany, Sachtler is as well regarded in the camera support business as neighbor Arri is in the camera business. Usually there well-built tripods don’t come cheap, but now the company is addressing the compact HD camcorder and Cine DSLR markets with its Ace tripod, a complete set up of sticks and fluid head weighs less than 4 pounds with an expected price around $500.
Sony’s F65 with its newly developed 8K sensor–said to be in the first imager to offer “true 4K resolution”–made even bigger news when its proposed starting price of around $50K was announced, making it a direct competitor with Red’s Epic and Arri’s Alexa. With a 16-bit linear RAW output, ISO800 sensitivity, and 14 stops total latitude, it draws a formidable line in the sand.
Chicago-based Zacuto makes some of the slickest camera support systems for DSLRs, and that’s the case for their new Scorpion DSLR rig. Gel padding is used throughout the its form-fitting shoulder pad. Since it offers flexible articulation, you should be able to find just the right angle to fit Scorpion to your own dimensions, a crucial point if you shoot more than a hour or two during the day.
A Great Name in Lenses Goes Cine
Leica’s Summilux-C lenses are the first cine lenses from famed Leica Camera. Based in Solms, Germany, the legendary imaging company must have sensed an opening for another high-end line of glass with impeccable credentials to take on Zeiss. Leica’s “new generation of lens design” offers “unique” physical characteristics including ultra high resolution and optimization for new digital sensors, which reveal more lens imperfections than traditional film.
According to cinematographer Florian Ballhaus who was involved in tests of the lenses, “The Leicas have a wonderful character while being perfectly predictable with their gentle Leica look that one expects from the still lenses we all know and love. They are as sharp as you want them to be but the focus falls off quite gently.”
Go Towards the Light
LED-based lights have become bright enough to replace HMI and halogen in many situations. While important new models turned up at the show, expect to see LED-based lighting grow quickly over the next 12 months as the technology continues to mature.
Arri L7-C Fresnel
Arri introduced three new fixtures to its L7 series of LED-based Fresnels. Among them, the L7-C looks most interesting as it allows you to throw all those messy gels away: the rig can be adjusted with a spin of the dial from 2700K-10,000K with an additional green/magenta control that helps when you’re trying to match florescent lighting. The L7-C acts like a typical Fresnel with a wide range of beam control while delivering single, sharp shadows. Each of the fixtures use less than 250w; that’s not even 1/4th of the power drain of 1000w tungsten Fresnel fixtures to which they are said to be equivalent.
Litepanels offered three new lights: Croma, an on-camera bi-color LED; Sola 4, the latest in its Sola Fresnel range; and Hilio, a high output fixture. Croma will be most interesting to camcorder users with its variable color 9W lamp (from 5600K to 3200K). It delivers 90 minutes of light from six AA batteries.
Litepanels Sola 4
Litepanels 5600K Sola 4, however, might attract with its claim to be “the world’s smallest fully dimmable LED Fresnel.” The petite lamp includes a 4-inch Fresnel lens, is DMX controllable, and delivers light equal to about a 250W lamp although drawing only 30W.
In & Out
AJA’s first Thunderbolt-enabled pro video I/O device, the Io XT, will “unify disparate formats” as its 10-bit hardware offers up/down/cross conversion capability. The Grass Valley, California-based company heralds a new age of on-the-go editing since combining the Io XT with Thunderbolt-enabled storage gear and the latest MacBook Pro will enable you to edit uncompressed HD on the road.
Atomos offered up its line of pocket-sized, battery-powered Connect converters, which connect HD-SDI to HDMI (Connect S2H) or HD-SDI to HDMI (Connect H2S). They’re versatile, removing 3:2 pulldown where necessary, and pack in test pattern and audio tone generation.
Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme
Blackmagic Design adds Intensity Extreme, a new low-cost video capture and playback device, to its line-up. The device, machined out of a block of aircraft grade aluminum, features HDMI and analog video I/O and connects to recent Mac laptop models via the Thunderbolt connector. Intensity Extreme can capture directly from an HD camera’s image sensor, thus bypassing the video compression circuit for uncompressed video quality.
Active Storage has configured its ActiveSAN and ActiveRAID storage systems to work more easily out of the box with Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5. Users can collaborate at the file-level in mixed-platform, media-optimized shared environments without dealing with complex setups and configuration, says the Torrance, California-based company.
New York-based Cinedeck launched Cinedeck RX, a rack mountable multi-format, multi-channel HD-SDI recorder, monitor and playback system. Spotted for mobile broadcasting, it records all Avid DNxHD formats, all Apple ProRes formats including 4444, CineForm and uncompressed 444 (10-bit) or 422 (8- or 10-bit). Cinedeck RX’s “double dual-stream” feature provides two stream simultaneous file capture to a pair of disks with backup copies for redundancy.
Codex’s Vault series recorder made its European debut. Codex Vault, spotted for use on the set, offers dailies review, deliverables production and archiving for cinema cameras. A fully tricked out is a standalone solution that requires no external drives since it utilizes Codex’s new Transfer Drives, which are also being introduced at IBC 2011.
Sound Devices PIX 240
The compact Sound Devices PIX 220 and PIX 240 video recorders created a stir at the show after their NAB introduction. These small, well-built devices now handle 10-bit QuickTime recording using Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD for any HDMI-or HD-SDI equipped high-definition video camera. They also offer quality audio handling, something Sound Devices is known for: the low-noise (-128 dBu equivalent input noise), high-bandwidth inputs are mic/line switchable and include limiters, high-pass filters, and 48V phantom power.
Odds & Ends
As previously reported here, Adobe shows it wants position as heir apparent to all those miffed Final Cut Pro users who have balked at FCPX. At the show Adobe announced the purchase of Iridas, the Munich-based company with a good rep for creating tools for digital color grading and enhancement of film and video content. Iridas’ main program–SpeedGrade – includes toolsets for stereo 3D, RAW processing, color grading and finishing of digital content. Expect it to be incorporated into Adobe’s Creative Suite Master Collection for the benefit of Premiere Pro and After Effects users. This will probably debut at NAB 2012. You may also see some of Iridas’ work on High Dynamic Range (HDR) video in the Suite.
Avid introduced Avid Motion Graphics with a real- time 2D/3D graphics-rendering engine. The system includes a bridge to the Deko product family, with the whole idea apparently designed to the easy for editors to learn and use in order to lessen the need to hand things off to a separate graphics artist.
More a play for the broadcast market, features include live-to-air playout, workflows sped up by the use of templates, and automated playout.
DaVinci Resolve 8.1
Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 8.1 software update belies the minor dot one from this year’s earlier introduction as it lays on the improvements: new layer node composite effects, ACES colorspace support, compatibility for Avid AAF and round trip with Avid Media Composer, Final Cut Pro 7 clip size and position support, new copy commands for grades, upgraded EDL features, support for UltraStudio 3D for Thunderbolt and compatibility with the 2011 MacBook Pro 15-inch.
Sony Professional announced further additions to its OLED range of monitors, with the launch of the BVM-F series, which adds to the BVM-E and PVM line of OLED monitors. If you haven’t seen one of these yet, the OLED technology is a knockout, delivering subtle color and blacks that go beyond the best a CRT delivers. But it ain’t cheap. In any case, the BVM-E is Sony’s high-end line designed for DITs and post color correction while the PVM line is “less expensive” and designed for more regular on-set use.
The BVM-F line–available in both 17-inch and 25-inch models—is a 10-bit system that uses less costly electronics. It comes in at a lower tab (no prices were yet available at the show) than the 12-bit E version.
Sony’s 3D binocular
At first, Sony’s 3D binoculars seem an odd development, with the famed pro products company traipsing into a minor area of the consumer realm. But if you think about it, the concept might offer a real way for consumers, documentarians and others to get into real world 3D via a straight-forward piece of technology. Two models were announced a month ago and on display at the IBC – the DEV-5 and DEV-3. Each offer HD video recording, 7.1 megapixel still capture, optical image stabilization, 3D recording, HDMI output and (on the pricier DEV-5) geotagging via an in-built GPS receiver. Dual back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensors should offer good low-light recording.
I hope this quick look at just some of the more important product debuts and upgrades at IBC 2011 caught your interest. Please let me know if I’ve missed anything you think deserved inclusion by commenting below.