Report from NAB, the world’s largest trade show for video, broadcast, and TV

April 15, 2010 · Posted in B-Roll 

NAB is the world’s biggest conference for TV, film and video producers, with miles of halls filled with equipment on display.

This year it’s all about 3D and DSLR cameras. It seems like every booth has either dslr rigs or 3D lenses and equipment – or both. Biggest news of the show: B&H isn’t giving a show discount this year.

Most of the new stuff seems to be 3D related, but there are a couple of interesting cameras here.

The new Canon XF300 handycam is a tapeless big brother to the XHA1 but has full 1920×1080 chips that have amazing resolution. Even though it is a 1/3″ chip camera, you’d never believe it from the resolution charts I saw. This is serious competition to the big chip broadcast cameras, and has 4:2:2 color and a high data rate. Around six or seven grand price, depending on the model.

Panasonic and Sony both talked about budget cinema large-chip cameras but neither have anything you can handle.

The serious people are spending serious money on DSLR rigs with setups built around 1Dmk4 or 5D bodies with Cooke, Zeiss or Leica lenses that eclipse the price of the body by several orders of magnitude. There’s a lot of buzz about the last episode of House being shot entirely on 5D mk2’s – it airs May 17.

LED lights are everywhere you turn and prices are coming down.

I’ve spent the last two days buried in the world of broadband, iptv, and mobile video at NAB, so don’t have much new camera porn for you all. As I sit here amongst the slot machines at my airport gate, here’s a ‘stuff’ update.

The acronym for today is OTT – which stands for ‘over the top’ delivery of iptv to settop boxes. A new ‘freedom’ chip is coming on the market which will give settop tv boxes the power of computers and will enable tv, vod, and web access via the internet. – bypassing the cable company. This seems like a pretty big deal to me, but it was well-hidden at this broadcast event.

There were a bunch of cool things for ipads and iphones. VeriCorder has a non-linear video editor for the iPhone which is fairly amazing. They’re also going to market xlr adapters for the iPhone as well as plug-in mics. The pro NLE is $300 per year, but they have a consumer app for $10 that does some editing.

On the content delivery front, a new company to join the likes of Brightcove, VMix, etc is a Virginia company called Voped. They have a pretty good administrative interface, decent metrics and seemed like bright, capable and nice people. They automatically transcode for different formats, including mobile. Bandwidth costs about $1k per terabyte per month.

There were an overwhelming number of rigs for dslrs and the Zeiss folks were beating people back from their booth – all of whom had their checkbooks out for a $24,000 set of compact prime lenses. The uptake of dslrs is amazing. Canon had a huge presence at the show, with almost continuous presentations of shows by the likes of Vincent Laforet. The crowds were huge in front of that part of the Canon booth while the broadcast folks were standing around their beautiful expensive tv lenses with no one to talk to. Zeiss, Leica, and Cooke all had lenses for the Canons in their booths. Nikon was not visible at all at the show.

(Sorry, but I don’t know much about the new big-chip cameras announced by Panasonic and Sony. Panasonic will have a micro-four/thirds video camera at the end of 2010. Sony said they’re working on a big-chip camera but didn’t have mockups yet.)

Also overwhelming was the number of new LED based lighting systems. They’re starting to get the color temperature under control on the less-expensive units and a lot of them now have a switch to change from daylight to tungsten without having to use filters. Chinese LED lights were in every other booth and most looked the same but Filmgear, repped by Birns and Sawyer, looked to be quality stuff.

I went to the FCPUG Supermeet last night and saw presentations on Adobe CS5, Avid, and DaViinci color correction, along with 3D production (which is not at all simple.) Apple’s product manager for Final Cut Pro spoke at the event and highlighted many third-party developments. He did not say a single word about Apple’s plans for Final Cut.

NAB is the biggest trade show I’ve ever been to and I’m used to some big ones back home. It has three huge halls full of video and TV stuff. Never having been before, I don’t have much to compare it to, but I left with the impression that the whole TV industry has it’s head in the sand. Marketing for the show highlighted convergence and broadband, but the number of vendors and presentations on broadband and iptv was really pretty small. 3D seemed to be where people thought there was money to be made.

A shout-out to the list folks who got together at NAB – it was great and gratifying to meet you folks!


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