James Cameron says 3D TV will be a viable business model within five years.
We search for the more interesting and provocative news and views of the past week…just so you don’t have to.
This week we have a look at some of the top news from the “world’s largest electronic media event”, including a new 3D camera company, a totally rewritten NLE and—with the upcoming Earth Day in mind—a note about a meeting where you can learn to fit recycling into your production cycle.
What Else? NAB in the News
Every year around this time a general hysteria sets in for those interested in the technological aspects of film and video production.
This past week wasn’t any different, with the unspooling of the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, accompanied by the usual round of speculation, hearsay, and tasty details from those supposedly under NDA over this or that piece of hardware or software.
Some use the attendance numbers at the show to try and descry the health of the industry. But with the total number of registered attendants essentially unchanged (up a little over 5-percent for a total of 92,708) it’s doubtful any conclusions exist beyond the knowledge that the numbers didn’t tank.
But the good news for anyone involved in production and post? The faster-better-cheaper mantra chanted at the beginning of the computer age still finds ample voice in this 2011 edition of the show.
For anyone thinking that 3D had no relevance beyond expensive features, James Cameron delivered the keynote address—along with partner and camera design wiz Jim Pace—to the mainstay audience of broadcasters that “Your business is about to go 3D”. You can read more about just how this business model makes sense (and could even be well under way in five years) in this article in Variety.
How to Remake a Popular NLE
But before talking up cameras, let’s jump into post since many thought the big news of the show was Apple’s announcement of a completely redesigned Final Cut Pro. Coming out some 10 years after the first version of the popular NLE software, the new Version X will feature a low price point of $299 when it debuts in June.
Larry Jordan, a Final Cut trainer of some note, titled his blog on the introduction of the new app “The Sound of 1,700 Jaws Dropping”. Although he obviously has a number of horses in this race, Jordan points up the new version as a “bold move” for its totally redesigned interface, full 64-bit support, and, oh hell, why not, “a rethinking of the entire concept of what it means to edit.” Read more here.
You can find a bit more of a questioning attitude—it’s there in the title ” FCP X, Game Changer or iMovie Pro?”–in this podcast from the Terence & Philip Show, an enjoyable bit of back and forth between LA and the Vegas show floor from Terence Curren and Philip Hodgetts.
You’ll find stronger critiques of the software’s relevance from Walter Biscardi on his blog. Biscardi, who also attended the Apple presentation at the annual Final Cut User Group SuperMeet event, sees the NLE apps from Avid and Adobe gaining in importance to professional editors.
For even more specific reasons why he plans to move to Avid Media Composer, read Biscardi’s updated post here.
Avid, a company valued at a tiny, tiny fraction of Apple, takes on the Cupertino crowd by offering a limited time “cross-grade” to Final Cut Pro users. Until June 17th, FCP users can pick up the $2495 Avid Media Composer software for $995. More here.
Here’s Looking at You
As D.W. Leitner mentioned in a podcast from earlier on at NAB, the spread of 35mm-sized single sensor camera systems takes creators back to the origins of still photography, where knowledge of how lens, sensor/film and the rest of the setup interacts with light holds to the details long ago worked out by the great masters of the medium.
Arri has been gaining fans for its Alexa, with a number of features and TV shows now moving to the digital camera system. At the show, the Munich-based company presented new versions of the Alexa, including the Plus, Studio, and modular M, which is pegged as ideal for 3D since the camera head can be separated from the body to allow a lighter, lower profile 3D rig. You can watch Abel Cine’s Mitch Gross find out more about the product launches in his interview with Arri’s Marc Shipman-Mueller.
Arri also has a long tradition in building quality lighting gear. Here’s a short video on their introduction of a portable LED-based L7 Fresnel that is garnering positive attention.
Another camera with fast growing interest is Sony’s recently introduced single-sensor PMW-F3. Most notable new twist: Its upcoming firmware upgrade delivers a much greater dynamic range via S-Log gamma mode. Dual Link 4:4:4 RGB video output, 3G-SDI output and more are also on tap with the $3,300 upgrade coming out in late summer/early fall.
You can find a video with extensive comparison shots with a standard XDCAM here.
Magic, Blackmagic that is, Really does make it Faster, Cheaper, Better
Blackmagic Design is a small, savvy company based in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. Each NAB the company presents products that remake, piece-by-piece, crucial parts of the postproduction infrastructure via hardware that does what the original products do (or better) but at a small fraction of the price.
At the show, you could find the HyperDeck Shuttle, for example, which offers 10 bit, 4:2:2 uncompressed SD, HD over HD-SDI or HDMI recorder for just $345. (You still need to add a solid state drive.)
For $995 Blackmagic’s UltraStudio 3D, meanwhile, allows laptop editing of SD, HD, along with 2K capture and playback. You’ll find it supports two streams of full resolution video up to 1080p HD for stereoscopic 3D workflows.
Finally, Blackmagic announced DaVinci Resolve Lite. This new reduced feature version of the DaVinci Resolve color correction software has one striking feature: it’s free. DaVinci Resolve Lite has some limits, of course. But since it’s based on the upcoming DaVinci Resolve 8, it shows what can be done on a full-featured color correction app that only goes for $995. The software runs on the latest model iMac, 17inch MacBook Pro and Mac Pro computers.
Adobe launched Version 5.5 of its Creative Suite collection of apps at the show. Productions might like one new approach: you will be able to lease access to the software on a month-by-month basis.
We’ll be covering a local New York producer/director’s use of the software in an upcoming issue, so stay tuned.
With so many intriguing new products at the show, I’ll simply point you to a couple of reliable sites that offer quick round-up video postings that you can range through to find what’s most interesting.
Filmmaker IQ offers some useful in-depth interviews in its Video Roundup.
The FreshDV team, meanwhile, produced 32 videos from the NAB tradeshow floor with over 5 hours of content.
Make your Production fit for Earth Day and Beyond
On Saturday evening, April 30th, prop and set-dressing boutique Film Biz Recycling will hold a free workshop in environmental management for film and television production. The Brooklyn-based not-for-profit will offer a “practical workshop and how-to” intended to expand the talent pool, provide upper and middle management with useable tools and increase awareness of the impending changes and options in the film industry, among other key issues.
Spaces are limited and an RSVP is required. Click here to RSVP.