Every year in April hundreds of thousands of media geeks from around the world descend on Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters convention where anybody who makes anything media related comes to show off their latest wares.

I’ve been a regular annual attendee since the beginning of this century, using the exploration of the latest technological trends as an excuse to score a pre-summer Vegas getaway.  As I sit here in my hotel room with a nice view of the Las Vegas Parking Structure, I find it hard to name a common trend for this year or even to put a guess as to what’s coming up next in the world of media production.

To be sure, the past two years have been a whirlwind. The DSLR camera movement came in and exploded like a nuclear detonation. Despite what any naysayer says (I assume they say “nay”), the game has changed and changed drastically. And still pretty much everybody is still trying to figure out what to do next. The revolution has already occurred, everything now is only evolutionary.

A common thread in my discussion about technology here on IQ has been the importance of creativity and skill over technology. Looking back from just 10 years ago, technology has improved so much that creativity and skill are quickly becoming the ONLY thing that separates the good and bad. It used to be that only a professional could lay hands on a great camera, but now they’re common place. And so importance of conventions like NAB has declined dramatically – not only because so much of this marketing information is available online, but because technology is so ubiquitously good.

But the manufacturers still want to make a buck and the convention scene serves as a means to convince attendees and the media (which needs something to fill the dead air with) that we need to have the latest thing. So as I roamed the richly designed convention halls I couldn’t help get the sense that all my current equipment sucks and that I would be that I could finally achieve my vision only if I bought the latest iteration of whatever.

A quick trip to the bar will fix that feeling right up.

That’s not to say that conventions aren’t a source of fun and a way to experience firsthand all the latest gizmos. And I suppose if you’re reading this you’ll want some sort of reporting about what’s new and exciting because maybe you aren’t as jaded and tired of spending money as I am.

Again, the bar will help things out…
So what’s new/cool? Here’s a very small and limited list of things I saw:

Apple announced Final Cut Pro X

A Breakdown of the FCPX unveiling

General buzz around the interwebs puts the new version of Final Cut Pro as the hottest thing to come out of the NAB. Except, it really didn’t come out at the NAB… it was announced at a super-meet that was held outside the convention on Tuesday night. So I didn’t get a chance to see it, and there was nobody at the Apple Booth to answer questions (assuming they have a booth, which they don’t and haven’t for years)

Now I’m not here to start an NLE war. I cut on Adobe Premiere. I know people that cut on Avid and Final Cut – in the end we’re all making the same product. But…

There’s absolutely nothing in Final Cut Pro X that would make me want to switch over. Every single “revolutionary” feature Apple listed has been available on other systems for years. And the worst part for me… it looks like iMovie Pro.

Once the Apple Fanboys get a chance to change their underwear, we may start getting some real information about the new Final Cut. Until then, all this talk about “rethinking the way we edit” is complete nonsense. I can understand the excitement of an upgraded version of a dearly loved NLE, but let’s not proclaim that everything needs to be rethought…

Adobe Announcing CS5.5

CS 5.5 is shaping up to be a incremental improvement including some more integration into Adobe Story and Review.

Zacuto EVF

Probably the most anticipated product for the DSLR filmmaker  – the Zacuto EVF is essentially a small monitor with HDMI-IN and outputs. That being said, the EVF is the most feature-rich monitor available at this price range (from $675-$775 for the monitor alone). Included are peaking, bars, blue-only, aspect ratio markings, monochrome viewing (B&W), 1 to 1 pixel preview, zebra settings and anamorphic lens stretching.

Kudos to Zacuto for packing in the features in a relatively low cost monitor – now if they could only bring down the price on the rods…

Black Magic ATEM Television Studio

Switchers are not a new thing, but the ATEM is the first one I’ve seen that comes in at under $1000 and has a lot of the functionality you’d want from a live switcher. It also handles HDMI which is quickly becoming the standard for consumer and prosumer video.

RED still doesn’t know when they’ll get their stuff to market.

No surprise… so if putting working prototypes of the Scarlet and Mysterium wasn’t enough to pull people, they
set up a live tattoo session to demonstrate the camera’s capabilities.

To keep fanboy drool off the cameras, they kept them behind red dividers with only authorized RED folks allowed to touch them.

Matthews introduces DC Slider

The Matthews DC Slider introduces one new concept to sliders that changes everything – they added a counter weight to the bottom that offsets the weight of the camera above. Not only does this allow the slider to be used in all sorts of angles without fear of a catastrophic uncontrolled slide, it also allows the slider to sit on a tripod without fear of tipping over.

On Camera Lighting will soon gain consciousness and take over the world

Guess it was just a matter of time.

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I think Adobe also made a major step when it announced you can rent the programs for a month at a time. Granted that is an expensive way to go, if you keep paying for it every month. But if you need after effects for a month and it only costs you $75.00 then you go for it.

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