NAB 2012 Roundtable Wrapup: Surprises, Trends & What’s Next

Posted in Equipment, News, Video by Nathan Lee Bush on April 20, 2012

The Crew at NAB (l to r): Nathan Pardee, Miguel Goodbar, Nathan Lee Bush, Daniel Gurzi

Adorama Rental Co. had four team members scouring the the floor of NAB 2012. We asked each of them what they think about this year’s biggest surprises, biggest takeaways and what they expect to see next year.

Daniel Gurzi, Director of Digital Cinema

Biggest Surprise: Blackmagic’s Digital Cinema Camera. It’s a great entry level item for both them and the end users. It’s also nice to have an affordable video camera in the DSLR price range to help renegotiate the differences between stills and motion.

Biggest Takeaway: 4K trickle-down. There is A LOT of new gear coming out. 4K should just about be finding itself as an official standard in the next year or so which is already beginning to trickle down to the consumer level.

Next Year: Lenses! There are a lot more low cost lens options coming to market. Look for the industry to start shedding more and more film gear and continue developing lower cost digital equivalents.

Miguel Goodbar, Director of Business Development

Biggest Surprise: What no one expected was to see a 2.5 K, 12-bit RAW uncompressed camera for $2,995. But somehow, Blackmagic did it. After the launch of the C300, Canon surprisingly announced two new 4K cameras: the C500 and the 1D C DSLR, along with a whole new line of Cine prime and zoom lenses. Sony showed off their F65 capabilities and introduced the FS700, a 4K ready, high speed camera. And RED, showing off their new 6K Dagon Sensor at their dungeony booth. Arri announced their new 4:3 camera paired with a prototype of the anamorphic lens, a collaboration with Zeiss. Carl Zeiss introduced a few great additions to each of their CP.2, LW Zooms, ZE and ZF lines.

Biggest Takeaway: NAB 2012 was definitely the welcoming to the 4K era and beyond. Not only on the capture side, but on the streaming part of it. There is a new generation of super high resolution monitors and projectors, that combined, render a mind blowing image, with so much sharpness and detail that it looks 3D, but without being 3D (thank god).

Next Year: High end monitors and projectors. With all these new cameras, we’ll definitely need them to fully appreciate the quality!

Nathan Lee Bush, Director of Social Media

Biggest Surprise: DSLR priced cinema cameras. The Blackmagic 2.5K, 4:2:2 RAW shooting Digital Cinema Camera with 13 stops dynamic range for under $3,000. If it can live up to the specs even in a small degree, it could be a watershed, industry-shakeup kind of moment, in the tradition of the Apple II, iPhone or Canon 5D Mark II. This could be the product that redefines models and upends the conservative main players’ approach to such a degree, that former behemoths are reduced to bit players (think former smartphone giants Microsoft and RIM in the post-iPhone era). This is pure market forces responding to the desire for non-kidney prices to achieve next generation image quality, that only a nimble but high-tech company like Blackmagic would have the means and incentive to create. Kudos to them for seeing how close they were to an actual imager and seizing the moment. Sony has shown a willingness to pack more features in for less than the competition, as evidenced by the FS700, but Blackmagic takes it to a whole new level. Time will tell if the final image quality and performance of the Digital Cinema Camera can match the hype, but if so, Canon, Sony, RED should be nervous, and may have to slash a zero or two across their product lines. This will have the effect, for better of worse, of further democratizing the industry.

Biggest Takeaway: 2012 is the year I became a 4K believer. Sony and Canon had beautifully calibrated theaters showing off their flagship 4K cameras (RED had a 3D projection, but I didn’t get a chance to see it). I finally got the hype surrounding high resolution capture and playback. The Sony theater was particularly impressive. It literally felt like looking through a window into another world, just a totally new experience. The image had an almost 3D quality (good thing, because Sony’s glasses-less 3D tech gave me a pounding headache). Indeed, when this technology starts reaching theaters, it could be even more of a hit to the flagging demand for 3D. I’ll admit, that I prefer the softness of film. 4K is almost too real. But I think that is a nostalgic preference due to my love of cinema. I think most people won’t have this hangup, especially the younger generation. Plus, you can always soften the image in post, if that’s the look you’re going for, while having the extra dynamic range of a high resolution image to work with.

Next Year: Slow Motion/high speed cameras. Besides the inevitable resolution arms race, low-light performance improvements, and miniaturization advancements we’ve been seeing, 240 fps at Full HD is the new standard to which all cameras will be held. In a time when many cameras in the $15,000 range are limited to 720p 60fps recording, Sony’s introduction of the FS700 for under $10,000 will light a fire under the other manufacturers to increase their high res frame rates. Slow motion is niche, but when you need it, you need it, and just the option will now be seen as indispensable. The Blackmagic Digital Cinema Camera will also push prices down, and perhaps inspire more niche players to come to the camera development party, in much the way Google seized the moment, and piggybacked on the iPhone revolution. Bit-rates will have to come up, as 8Mb throughput of the latest crop of DSLRs is now looking pretty long in the tooth. The Law of Accelerating Returns implies that at some point relatively soon (a decade or two?) we’ll all have a RED quality cameras in our pocket. Of course, by then the RED flagship will be 30K and projecting in laser 3D in our home theaters (I know it all sounds crazy, but you heard it here first. Check in with me in 2022). Each NAB marches us closer to that day. In the meantime, it’s fun to sit back and enjoy the show.

Nathan Pardee, Digital Video Specialist

Biggest Surprise: The f65 4K projection at the Sony booth. I viewed the 3D projection at the RED booth, and the 4K projection at the Canon booth, which both looked great, but the Sony presentation had my jaw on the floor, particularly the Carnaval video shot in Rio. The colors and sharpness of the image was unlike anything I had ever seen. Sony’s presentation was proof that 3D is not necessarily the next step in image capture, and that higher resolution 2D projection still has yet to hit its ceiling.

Biggest Takeaway: The end of the low-budget look. Filmmakers are being inundated with choices and possibilities in how they shoot their stories. There are now high quality solutions for every budget level, and options for shooting digital cinema in every possible scenario. The market is shifting towards 4K capture and projection, and with sub $15,000 camera options to shoot such resolution, stories will no longer be compromised by low image quality.

Next Year: I am not convinced that 3D is the next step in image capture. I, for one, do not feel 3D is a necessary tool for telling enthralling stories. The advances in 2D image capture that I saw this year are very exciting, and I hope more resources are dedicated to those advances, as opposed to pursuing 3D technology. The Dragon sensor and the F65 8K sensor both bring an even higher possible resolution to the table, and I am very eager to see how much further they advance the industry.


2 Responses

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  1. […] distribution technology; the four of us from Adorama Rentals who attended gave our thoughts on the NAB’s trends on display, surprises and expectations for next year; we talk with Canon’s Chuck Westfall about the new cinema cameras, the 4K 1D C video-oriented […]

  2. Leondrah Witoskyx said, on July 27, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Okay this YouTube video is much enhanced than previous one, this one has pleasant picture feature as well as audio.

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