Why The Fate of Humanity Hinges on the Trends of #NAB2015

Much has been written about the diminished importance of trade shows in the internet age – how all marketing information is being disseminated through the web without the need of a centralized communication hub. And perhaps NAB is really more interesting to the media that covers it than to the audience in general – a place for colleagues to get together and geek out over the latest offerings while readers carry on with their real lives. Even if that is true, if you do get a chance to go and take part in the industry party, it’s worth it just for the sheer spectacle of it all (and the corporate sponsored booze).

This is how the AV club parties down

This is how the AV club parties down

But this year’s NAB will be remembered for much more. Because this year marks the beginning of an upcoming battle that could potentially enslave all of humanity under the thumb of cold unfeeling robot overlords.

Drone Attack

On Monday at 4:21PM, during a demonstration, a small drone “malfunctioned” and attacked a camera operator doing press, knocking him to the ground. Luckily the operator was uninjured but this incident (which the mainstream media is too cowardly to discuss) is only the beginning of slow downward spiral to full blown robot servitude.

A glimpse of Plugin Pavillion for #NAB2016

A glimpse of Plugin Pavillion for #NAB2016

Certainly the trend among camera technology this year has been moving away from brute resolution toward much richer color depth (as wished for back in IBC 2014). No longer is it good enough to shoot 4K 8bit 4:2:0 – every camera is boasting 10 or 12 bit color space with 4:2:2 becoming more a common feature than just something reserved for “high end” uses. The added color space the manufacturers are scrambling to implement, will no doubt enhance the robot’s human detection ability, making it easier for hunt down defectors and murder them with a precise blow to the spinal column.

15 stops of dynamic death

15 stops of dynamic death

For anybody that did attend the show, you couldn’t escape the presence of Black Magic Design advertising (just like you can’t escape the robot apocalypse). And in typical fashion, Blackmagic announced a handful of new cameras (the Ursa Mini and the MicroCinema camera). But it’s really hard to get excited about these cameras because of their incredibly weak low light capabilities. Their camera demonstration booth was suppose to be a nightclub atmosphere which was lit by over 20 bare Kinos.

Nightclub lighting by Blackmagic Design

Nightclub lighting by Blackmagic Design

Even with all those lumens, the URSA on display had a hard time keeping up. At the highest ISO setting, the URSA was pulling a very dark image at F5.6

WP_20150414_13_41_37_RawThe URSA mini held up a bit better. At ISO 800 it needed to be full open wide to produce a good exposure. To be fair, these were demos of 60 fps, but there’s something just washed out and uninteresting about the flat over lit set.

WP_20150414_13_44_20_RawPerhaps I’m just being nit picky – but compare that look to the demo station for RED right next door – here doing a good job of depicting the strange biological experiments being conducted by what appears to be our ultimate robot master.

WP_20150413_10_28_14_Raw (1)Notice the columns on the far right of RED booth under their flag? That’s the wash of light coming from the Blackmagic booth – compare that to how much darker and moodier the RED camera demo is. But it’s not just RED…

WP_20150414_10_56_25_RawPanasonic was showing off their Varicam with an intimate “candle lit” scene that would have made Barry Lyndon proud.

Arri didn’t even bother with creating a camera demo scene and just let people shoot video of other show attendees under atrocious trade floor lighting.

WP_20150414_10_24_21_RawThe Alexa 65mm on display above shooting a person standing in front of the Canon Booth… holy crap! For such a crappy lighting situation I was blown away just like innocent bystanders after the first unsuccessful nuclear strike against the machines.


I can’t handle all that Bokeh!

So if there’s a positive note, we can be sure that Blackmagic Design won’t be contributing technology which will ultimately be used to destroy us and replace us with self organizing nano slime.

Blackmagic Design - Our products were are not responsible for the Robotpocalypse

Blackmagic Design – Our products won’t be responsible for this man’s death in the Robotpocalypse

In line with the robotic ascension, the common trend this year was the commoditization of the stabilizing gyro. MoVI made waves when it first debuted a few years ago – now everybody has a version and they’re putting them on zip lines, RC cars – you name it.

The most advanced upskirt device known to man.

The most advanced upskirt device known to man.

They even put on one the end of an electric drill (by Shape)

WP_20150413_11_58_22_Raw (1)

But if there’s one bright side for the future of humanity, the same manufacturer of the joystick gimbal also premiered their new machine fashions of the future complete with shoulder rigs as heels.

WP_20150413_11_55_05_Raw (1)

We can only hope the robot race approves.



A Quick Reminder On The Way to NAB 2015

As we prepare ourselves for the onslaught of new cameras and filmmaking gear – we thought would revisit an article we wrote three years ago that holds just as true then as it does now: Why Camera Flame Wars Will Not Make You A Better Filmmaker


I’ve been involved with online camera and filmmaking discussions for nearly a decade now and in that time I have seen one of the most important shifts in the history of filmmaking for the beginning filmmaker and professional alike: The Digital Revolution. We’re coming to the completion of that digital shift – technology is maturing and these new tools are now widely available. But now what? What is the future?

Technology can only progress so far. It will get better but not at this astounding pace we’ve seen in the last 5 years. Now we are entering a perfect storm of social propaganda that threatens to enslave us in a never ending [camera] consumer cycle and it has nothing to do making films or making films better.

For 95% of video applications, what is currently available on the market and affordable to most people is “good enough”.  For the remainder 5% of projects there are a myriad of options available for rent. And yet I keep reading comments like “I’ve been asking for a camera that does x, y, z” or “This camera is crap because it can’t do 60p” or “Z Camera company is finally listening to their customers.”

Bullshit. No camera is holding you back.

You are holding yourself back.

The digital revolution has ushered in an era of artistic freedom. But freedom is scary. Freedom means we have to take responsibility for our success and our failure. This freedom also means your audience now has the same tools as you and you no longer belong to a special class with privileged access.  Freedom requires you to compete, which means you have to be good. You have to bring something unique to the table. That’s downright terrifying.

Read the Full Article

If you happen to see our John P. Hess walking the floor of NAB – don’t be afraid to drop by and say “Hi” – this is one of the few times we let him outside of his cage.


Adobe Announces Big Updates on the Eve of NAB 2015

The previous big upgrade from Adobe’s Creative Cloud brought some nice changes and added stability but not a lot to get excited about. The story is totally different with this latest batch of updates being announced and demonstrated at NAB 2015. The name of the game this time seems to be centered around color which, truth be told, was a feature that was lacking in Premiere and After Effects. The early implementation of their Lumetri System wasn’t that useful compared to the plethora of great third party color plugins. But now that’s starting to change.

Premiere Pro Lumetri Panel

Key to the latest round of updates is the much improved color capabilities of Premiere. I’m a big fan of Lightroom – adjusting temperature, highlight, shadow and vibrance sliders are incredibly quick and intuitive way of dialing in color. Many have asked why that system hasn’t been implemented inside Premiere… well now it has. But how do you know if colors you’re adjusting are correct? Well that’s where scopes come in and those are getting a much needed facelift.

Project Candy Image 2

But color isn’t just relegated to what exists on the desktop. The world is full of color and Adobe is trying to make it easier to capture pleasing color palettes with their new mobile app Project Candy. See a cool color palette on a store front sign? Capture it with your phone, identify the colors and you can even translate that into your productions inside the Creative Cloud.


Color isn’t the only focus of the new versions of Creative Cloud. What could be a god send for documentary filmmakers, Adobe is announcing the Morph Cut which utilizes Adobe’s newly improved face tracking technology to seamlessly transition between pieces of footage. Now this technology isn’t anything terribly new (a similar concept might be the pixel motion tools available in After Effects)- but automating it could potentially save a lot of timely edits. Plus the morph cut tool may have interesting side applications like morphing a series of photos taken over the years.

Character Animator 2

For 2D animators or people that need quick 2D animation done but never thought it was possible – there’s a new app in the works called Character Animator. Although it won’t be ready until the summer, Adobe will be previewing the product at NAB. Essentially it captures web camera footage and, again using face tracking technology, animates a 2D character including lip sync. Using third party software, you can even animate 2D characters from recorded performances.

We’ll share more of what Adobe has as their demos come online. As a long time Adobe users and an attendee of NAB show for over a decade now, this is one of those years where I’m thrilled not to have to decide whether or not I’ll make the upgrade – all these new features are included in the subscription!

I’ve covered the major upgrades coming to Creative Cloud but there’s more in store including higher integration between products and the Creative Cloud Libraries, Audio capabilities in Prelude and improved Previews in After Effects. Check out their Press Release on What’s New in Video for CC

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