We survived NAB 2014! I think that’s the general consensus feeling of the folks who work the show as they wrap up another year. We did 55 DCS Booth Tour interviews from the show floor which are currently streaming from our website, (listed here in alphabetical order):
AbelCine – Adobe – Adorama – AJA – Angénieux – Anton Bauer – ARRI – Astrodesign – Avid – Band Pro – BBS Lighting – Birns & Sawyer – Blackmagic Design – Canon – Cartoni, Manios Digital – Chrosziel – Cineo Lighting – Cinnafilm – Codex Digital – Convergent Design – Cooke Optics – Digital Sputnik – Dolby Vision with FilmLight – Fujinon – JVC – K5600 – Kino Flo – Leica – Libec – Litepanels – LumaForge – Manios Digital, PagLink – MōVI – MTI Film – Nila – NVIDIA – OConnor – Panasonic – Red Scorpion LED – Redrock Micro – Sachtler – Schneider Optics – Shutterstock – Sony CineAlta – Sony Colorworks – Sound Devices – Steadicam – The Studio-B&H – Tiffen Filters – Vision Research – Wooden Camera – Zacuto – Zeiss
There was a lot to see, but if there was a theme this year, it was 4K with new cameras, workflow solutions, and displays. In fact, there were so many new 4K cameras that we didn’t have time to cover them all. You will see new 4K models from Panasonic, Blackmagic Design, AJA, (yes AJA is now in the camera business), Vision Research, and JVC, while Sony and RED offered refinements to their previous models.
There were also new HD models from ARRI, and Blackmagic that we did reports on and were quite interesting. Although I got to see them off site at the annual CML gathering, we missed covering the 4K introduction from Kinefinity, and a new 2K camera called Digital Bolex. It’s nice as a Cinematographer to have so many choices, but I do wonder how the industry will support so many new and existing cameras.
Having seen all these new cameras, I was asked many times over the corse of the convention to share my thoughts, but I’ll reserve comment until I see them in the wild. There is no way to give any kind of meaningful evaluation without actually using them in the real world, and I look forward to putting many of them through their paces someday soon; (more about that later).
There were lots of new Cine Lenses on display, including Anamorphics from Cooke, ARRI/Zeiss, and Angenieux. There were also lots of new spherical lenses with primes from Leica and Schneider, as well as several new zooms, from the Canon 17-120mm, to the Fujinon 25-300mm, and Zeiss 15-30mm, among many more. It is wonderful to have so many choices of focal length, speed, form factor, and price point.
Another really active area of innovation is in the LED market. We covered new units from Litepanels, Nila, Cineo, ARRI and Kino Flo, as well as several new companies including Digital Sputnik, BBS, and RED Scorpion. We also saw an interesting new unit from Birns and Sawyer that features strips of LEDs placed into fluorescent style tubes designed primarily for retrofit of industrial and commercial fluorescent lighting. However, color precise versions will have many applications for motion picture use because they don’t require a ballast, run cooler than tubes, have longer life, are more energy efficient and are relatively inexpensive.
Cineo Lighting also showed more purpose-built small remote-phosphor units called “Matchsticks”. They come in 12”, 6”, and 3” as soft single strips of color controlled dimable, DC power units you would stick into very small places. With all these new LED variations, it was also nice to see that K5600 was still innovating and coming up with several new HMI units. LEDs are great, but there are still some situations where you can’t beat the punch of an HMI.
Challenging the notion of higher and higher resolution is Dolby, with their end to end system called Dolby Vision. While not opposed to 4 or more “K”, their message with Dolby Vision seems to be about putting more emphasis on the quality of the pixels by increasing brightness, color space, and dynamic range, rather than the sheer number of pixels. Working with partners like FilmLight, the system is agnostic as to acquisition format, and would encode new or archived content, then deliver it all the way to the home display with greatly improved quality and control.
It is difficult to discern on our streaming coverage of Dolby Vision, but it is quite impressive to view first hand. It will take a lot of industrywide integration, (Postproduction, Broadcasters, Cable Operators, Display Manufacturers, etc.), and is not something you’ll see implemented immediately, but it could be a promising future technology. What Filmmaker wouldn’t want their content delivered this way, with improved visual quality along with metadata to help insure the picture is displayed as intended all the way to the home?
We didn’t shoot anything we didn’t think was interesting and had promise, but a couple of things did stand out. One thing I suggest you check out are the PAGlink camera batteries from Manios Digital & Film. These are Lithium Ions built into small enough units, (94wh) to safely pass air travel restrictions. However, two or more can be stacked to pool capacity, (i.e. combine two for 188wh). They can also be stacked for charging; for example, a four hole Anton Bauer charger can effectively charge a dozen or more batteries overnight, (also available in “V” mount). Another advantage is that they are hot swappable, and each has a separate capacity reading, (even giving you estimated run time based on current draw); so you can see when batteries are are getting low and swap out the last one in the chain without losing power before they all go down.
There will be more on some of the new technologies introduced at NAB in the next eNewsletter, but in the meantime, if you haven’t already, please enjoy our streaming coverage of NAB 2014. Again: www.digitalcinemasociety.org/news/streaming-nab-2014