We came, we saw, we ate too much fried chicken. Now that we’ve had time to digest the show, here’s the top five products from NAB2014 that we think will make your life easier.
Sony ENG Build-Up Kit
Sony promised to enhance the ROI of the F5 and F55 over time and the ENG Build-Up kit is in keeping with this strategy. Using the modular nature of the F-Series cameras, Sony now give operators the option of a shoulder rig that emulates the ergonomics of the PDW-700/F800 cameras without being locked into that form factor.
Launched at NAB as a documentary solution, the ENG Build-Up kit adds a shoulder pad and audio module with slot-in receiver space, in addition to the white balance/Gain/Knee switches operators had to previously dig through the menu to find. This configuration is better suited to run-and-gun, reality and shoulder mounted operating.
The adaptor, which takes about 3 minutes to install, moves the XLR module from the right side to the rear of the camera. The only oversight from Sony seems to be the exclusion of the R5 RAW recorder, which cannot be used with the Build-Up kit at this stage. Pricing and availability has not been officially announced, but rumor is it will be available later this year and will cost around the US$10,000 mark.
Atomos Shogun 4K RAW Recorder
Despite some initial quality issues in the first few years, Atomos products have truly improved over time. The Shogun seems like the next logical step for them – a higher spec recorder capable of uncompressed 4K recording. The RAW in the name refers to the CinemaDNG open file format, which can be used in a number of editing, grading and effects applications without conversion.
Featuring both 12G-SDI and HDMI inputs, the Shogun might just be the only recorder you would need from Atomos’ segmented product line up. However, 4K over 12G-SDI hasn’t been ratified by SMPTE as a standard yet. What is exciting is the ability to record a 4K signal over HDMI. There are a growing number of cameras that can output 4K over HDMI including the Panasonic GH4, Sony Alpha A7S and the Sony PXW-Z100 for example.
The other great news is that the Shogun will be able to accept XLR audio using a break out cable. Like the Blade series of recorders, the Shogun also features a high resolution IPS panel that can be colour calibrated using the Atomos Spyder technology borrowed from DataColor.
Davinci Resolve 11
Blackmagic are positioning Resolve 11 as a workflow tool. New updates due mid year will see improvements to on-set grading, data management, editing, and final delivery.
Editing tools have been bolstered to include dual monitor support, standard keyboard shortcuts and context sensitive trimming. The timeline can accept multiple formats and resolutions without transcoding, allowing native editing of camera codces. OpenFX plugins from companies such as Red Giant and Sapphire can be added to the timeline and even to correction nodes when grading. As a number of commentators have noted, its closer to being a one-stop application for post production.
We envision Automatic Colour Matching will be a great asset when balancing multiple cameras or matching chromakey and background plates. Using a simple chip chart like a Macbeth, Resolve will automatically balance the images, even if they were shot on different cameras, under different lighting conditions and with different color temperatures.
Intel introduced Thunderbolt2 at NAB2013, but the technology has only made its way into peripherals in the last 6 months. Thunderbolt networking was demonstrated this year allowing 10Gb ethernet-type networking between Macs with OS X Mavericks installed. A planned driver update will allow PC to PC and Mac to PC networking, which will add a new level of workflow flexibility to post environments running multiple platforms.
Apple, HP and Dell showcased new desktop and mobile workstations equipped with Thunderbolt2 connectivity and the technology is showing up in cameras such as the soon-to-be released AJA CION. For video professionals doing 4K productions, the message is simple: find better ways to manage your workflow or struggle to deliver your projects on time and within budget.
4K production places big demands on storage, so the ability to manage that content becomes a distinct competitive advantage for content creators. Thunderbolt2 is the only consumer technology available that can provide the bandwidth, functionality, and ease of use necessary for smaller shops to compete.
While NAB2014 could be called the year of 4K, it was also the year of Handheld Brushless Gimbals. New models from established players such as FreeFly and Defy were introduced, along with some surprise models from companies such as Letus.
Based on ZenMuse technology, the Ronin adds a handheld version to DJI’s arsenal of copter mounted stabilised gimbals. It appears to be the best value for money out of all the gimbals announced – 3 axis, 7.2kg payload, automatic configuration and a US$5000 price give it features usually seen in rigs costing twice as much.
The Ronin has what the others don’t: An Australian distributor which will mean full local support and warranty. Its tool-less design should be simple to set up for solo operators and the quick release means the gimbal can transition to different uses easily, say from handheld, to copter to car rig if needed.