by John P. Hess

NAB has become the world’s largest convention of media geeks and nerds around. Mid-April thousands make the pilgrimage to the land of Lost Wages to get a chance to look at new equipment and ask simple questions that could have been answered by a quick Google search.

NERDS!!! Revenge of the AV Club

Cynicism aside, the sheer size of the convention does generate a certain electricity in the air and there’s nothing quite as exciting as seeing that new production camera on an ultra shiny monitor (especially when the monitor costs more than the camera). Plus where else can you see a free magic show that incorporates the benefits of using EMC Isilon storage solutions?

Oh yeah… and lots of Greenscreen studio setups.

Most of us can't talk to a hot woman unless there's a Camera between us... but sometimes that doesn't even help...

There are plenty of sites that are offering complete in-depth coverage of the NAB exhibits and in the weeks and months to follow we’ll be taking a look at a lot of these new toys. In this article, we’ll just cover a few highlights – consider this a preview of things to come.

Black Magic Design Gets Into the Camera Game

Flying under the cover the big announcements from Canon and Sony regarding 4K, Black Magic Design dropped a big old, “Holy crap, that’s cool” PR bomb with their new Cinema Camera. Don’t let the simple Fisher-Price casing or lack of an alphanumeric callsign fool you, this camera is capable of some serious imaging.

Shooting on a roughly a 4/3″ chip, the Black Magic is capable of recording uncompressed 2.5K photo stream onto commonly available SSD drives. This feature is very similar to the “Digital Bolex“. But unlike the Digital Bolex, this camera can also record to a ProRes Compressed HD or DPX sequence in case you don’t want to burn hard drive space at 5 megs a frame. And doesn’t come with the retro hipster vibe.

But the best part… its selling for under $3,000.

That is the one thing I really like about Black Magic even though I don’t own anything they make. I was at another booth (who’s products I actually own) and they said a 4 way camera preview splitter was really affordable at $1,000. If Black Magic made it, it would be about $300. They really make affordable gear.

Read more about the Cinema Camera here

But I just upgraded… Adobe CS6 may be too tempting to resist

Adobe was out touting CS6… or was it. It’s sometimes hard to understand corporate double speak. Officially, CS6 is not out… so there’s no word quite yet on pricing… but all the computers a demoing CS6. So all they really can say is they’re working on it… and here it is… but it doesn’t exist yet…

The new improvements are too numerous to list here. But they are pretty substantial. Click here to see the new improvements.

The most important update is the Adobe Mercury Transmit which makes allows 3rd party hardware to access the powerful Adobe Mercury Playback engine. Previous versions had to wait for 3rd party suppliers to update their software to be compatible… hopefully this will be a thing of the past.

Autodesk’s new Smoke

I don’t know a thing about Autodesk’s Smoke. But there’s a new version and people are excited about it. I’ve never used it so I have no opinion one way or the other.

Canon’s Big 4K Cameras


I wrote a considerable article on the Canon’s 4K offerings yesterday. Neither of these cameras are really ready for market and when I tried to slip an SD card to get some sample footage, the Canon employee shooed me away.

My concerns about the 1D-C lacking an Electronic Peaking were verified. At this point, I feel like the 1D-C is what happens when you try to take the HDSLR concept too far to the point where it just doesn’t make sense.

I did get to play with the C300 and I snuck my Camera’s CF card in there to take some video. Unfortunately it formatted my card and I lost all the photos I had taken earlier in the day (which included some incriminating shots of Vincent Laforet at the Adobe Booth)… but at least the footage is really amazing.

This is compressed further as I don’t think I can upload the MXF… Horribly shot in very low light… and absolutely NO Frickin’ Noise. Amazing.

The Cine Prime lens on there was nice too…

Sony’s NEX-FS700 really is that Awesome

Unlike the overprotective parents at Canon, Sony was like that cool dad that gave you firecrackers and a BB gun and let you torment your little sister while he and aunt Julie had grown-up time in the cottage in the backyard. According the Sony representative, these 3 FS700s were the only one of their kind in the United States and they generously let me grab some footage.

These are Intra-AVC files straight off the camera – no post.

Here I am pushing the ISOs to try to see the noise. The highest I got here was about ISO5000 I think.

Here I’m looking at dynamic range between the lights and the darks. The FS700 handles the image beautifully.

As you can see the FS700 packs quite a punch for a sub-$10k camera. But
most talked about feature is the capability of shooting high frame rates (up to 240 fps for Full HD) for really cool slo mo.

What I forgot when testing out the slow motion was that high frame rate require considerably more light. And since the camera was set to auto exposure, the slow mo capture turned the ISO up to 10,000 (normally you’d never shoot that high). The amount of noise on the image didn’t become apparent until I viewed the footage on my laptop which goes to show you that having a really expensive preview monitor like the one Sony used to demo the camera does make your footage look better 🙂

Also there may be an extra post step that I’m missing that is exacerbating the noise issues (perhaps involving a missing gamma curve – I noticed if I pushed the dark areas down, it alleviated some of the noise).

Read more about the Sony NEX FS700 here

GoPro Goes Matrix

Not necessarily a new product but an interesting concept: Go Pro showed off its set up that can produce “bullet time” effects as seen on films like “The Matrix” using a modified gen-lock cable they use for the stereoscopic 3D.

No reason was given as to why it was mounted on a race car. GoPro users are just extreme that way. I’m surprised they haven’t picked up Mountain Dew as a sponsor.

The Most Awesome Van Ever

If I know my readers, the reason you clicked on the title was because you wanted to see some serious van action. Second to painting “Free WiFi” on the side of your van, nothing will gauruntee you more media nerd action than rolling into town with this sweet setup that Data Video had on display.

Play this as you scroll through the following pictures:

Come into my van baby and we'll sync some footage...

Is that a parfocal lens in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

If this van is a rockin' that means we're calibrating our speakers

Oh yeah…

And this dude was wearing a video hat near the RED booth.

You Talkin' to Me?

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Thurman Dalrymple, Jr.

Are they supplying grocery carts for all of the samples, brochures and flyers you’re collecting?

Nashawn Osborne

I think Shane Hurlbut’s recent blog explains the pros of the EOS-1D C and why it makes sense.

That dudes video hat is awesome.

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