NAB 2009: Preview – Part One

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Sun, 03/22/2009 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Two Big Topics will be 3D and 4K but a Bigger Topic will be 401Ks Stated or unstated the number one topic at this year’s National Association of Broadcasters convention will be the weakened global economy. No company is completely unaffected and while 3D and 4K workflow will be hot topics and there will be the usual technology and business announcements the impact of limited available resources of both money and manpower will color everything. One example of the effects of the economy is that Red will not be at the show after several years as one of the top attractions. As Red Digital Cinema’s owner Jim Jannard wrote on the Red user website: “The world is now officially in financial turmoil. Our accelerated schedule for Scarlet and EPIC deliveries seems to coincide with a dead market. I see no reason to continue to pay for rapid development and pushed schedules when the world is not ready to buy our product in the quantities that justify our urgency... Retail camera sales are currently off 40-50 percent. We are continuing to progress but now at a normal rate. My decision. I expect this to impact delivery schedules somewhat. This is real life. Things change. We have always said that because I have seen what can happen. I actually expected this downturn just not to this degree. We stay committed to keeping our customers posted. This is one of those times. Put your helmets on. Expect difficult times for a couple of years. And please don't ask us to ignore the drama that has hit everyone worldwide. It just doesn't make good business sense.” Nevertheless Red will have a solid presence at the show as a long and growing list of companies will be exhibiting enhancements and accessories to the cameras. Taking the opposite approach Avid which did not exhibit last year returns to the show and will have several announcements. Avid will be showing native XDCam support and what it says is the industry’s first stereoscopic 3D capabilities with latest versions of its editing software. What follows are the highlights of some of the technology that will be on display at the show. We’ve organized them into two groups: production and post-production. We’ll have part two of our preview in the next Report. Production Sony will be highlighting its full line of high-definition camcorders including the XDCam EX PMW-EX1 and PMW-EX3 camcorders as well as the HVR-Z7U HVR-S270U and other HDV camcorders.
The HVR-Z5U camcorder offers native 24P recording and other professional features—all for a suggested list price of less than $5 000—as well as tapeless recording capability through an optional CompactFlash adapter. “Professionals need features like balanced audio XLR inputs timecode and more ” says Bob Ott vice president of professional audio and video products at Sony Electronics. “They also need access to technical resources to help them with issues like integrating with non-linear editing systems.”
 The camcorder uses three of Sony’s ClearVid 1/3-inch CMOS sensor chips which are designed to provide high sensitivity deep resolution high-speed reading low noise and a wider dynamic range. The CMOS sensors capture full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution resulting in better picture quality when recorded onto miniDV tape in the HDV format (1440 pixels x 1080 lines). Each of the three sensors is dedicated to one color—red blue and green—for natural more accurate color reproduction. 
The HVR-Z5U is Sony’s first professional camcorder to have a Sony G lens with a 29.5mm wide-end viewing angle extra-low dispersion glass and 20x optical zoom. The fixed lens is optimized to perfectly complement the camera’s advanced image sensor and image-processing technology.
 Sony will also show the PDW-HR the latest entry in its XDCam HD422 professional disc system. “With its fast file-based operations and HD production flexibility this new recorder is perfect for applications where speed is a key concern such as pool feeds documentaries or reality programming ” says Wayne Zuchowski group marketing manager for XDCam systems at Sony Electronics. “It’s compact enough to fit in a car or helicopter and also offers HD 422 image quality for TV or motion picture production where the right look is critical.”
 The recorder features a built-in up/down converter and provides multi-format (1080i/720P) recording flexibility as well as HD/SD conversion and cross-conversion during playback between 1080i and 720P. It has 24P (23.98) record/playback capability for 422HD content as a standard feature. A range of video and audio interfaces allow for easy interoperability with other devices and editing systems with connectivity via HD-SDI in/out HDMI out SD-SDI in/out composite in/out Gigabit Ethernet RS-422A control and optional i.LINK TS in/out and DVB-ASI out.
The PDW-HR1 field recorder is expected to be available in June at a tentative list price of $21 000.
 Sony is expanding its line of TriMaster LCD monitors for critical referencing and broadcast video production with two new models. The BVM-L170 17-inch monitor is Sony’s second entry in its series of LCD master monitors for critical evaluation applications joining the BVM-L230 monitor already used in film and video production. The PVM-L2300 23-inch broadcast-grade monitor is a new entry in the TriMaster series. Both screen sizes are in terms of viewable area measured diagonally.
Both monitors incorporate a10-bit 120Hz LCD panel non-linear cubic conversion imaging technologies 12-bit signal processing engine optical feedback stability systems and automatic calibration operation. Each is designed to deliver high levels of color accuracy and color reproduction imaging quality and picture consistency following specifications outlined by industry standards. 
 “With more HD content being produced and consumers more discerning in what they will accept as high-quality images monitors that can reproduce colors as accurately and consistently as possible are critical for broadcast production ” says Rob Willox director of Sony Electronics’ content creation group. “These new models expand the range of monitoring capabilities for video professionals especially as their production requirements become more complex.”
The BVM-L170 and PVM-L2300 LCD monitors are available now at suggested list prices of $13 000 and $11 000 respectively.
 Panasonic will feature what it is calling the world’s first affordable 10-bit 4:2:2 professional HD camcorder featuring individual frame AVC-Intra recording native 2.2-megapixel imagers and variable frame rates. Incorporating an innovative low profile shoulder mounted design the 1/3-inch AG-HPX300 P2 HD camcorder offers the flexibility of interchangeable lens but comes standard with a 17x HD Fujinon lens. “The HPX300 establishes a new benchmark for performance within this price range ” says Robert Harris vice president Panasonic Broadcast. “It not only captures full native 1920 x 1080 HD resolution but it allows professionals to record at a quality level that no other camcorder in this price range can equal. Without the compromise of 8-bit long GOP 4:2:0 recording the HPX300 provides master-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 individual frame-capture using our award winning AVC-Intra codec. Video professionals will immediately realize that this camera is in a field of its own.” At eight pounds the HPX300’s lightweight well-balanced design and ergonomic handle makes it comfortable to use. All operation switches volume controls and card slots are on the left side for easier operation. The HPX300 is equipped with a widescreen 1 226 000-dot LCOS color viewfinder and a widescreen 921 000-dot 3.2-inch LCD color monitor. Its power consumption is low at only 18 watts. The HPX300 will be available now at a suggested list price of $10 700. The studio configuration add-on package for the HPX300 will be available later this year for less than $10 000. Panasonic will also tout the availability of its new AJ-PCD35 a new five-slot P2 solid-state memory drive with a PCI Express interface. Joining Panasonic’s growing line of advanced P2 workflow tools the PCD35 can increase transfer speed of P2 content to maximums of 1.0Gps or higher to desktop computer systems. The PCD35 plugs easily into a tower computer’s PCIe card slots making it well suited for flexible playback or editing. It can also be used as an external device. The drive is compatible with Windows XP Vista and Mac OS X and comes with an AC adaptor. The PCD35 is available now at a suggested list price of $2 190. And Panasonic will introduce a new color viewfinder the AJ-CVF100G for its P2 HD and DVCPro HD solid-state and tape-based production cameras. Incorporating LCOS display technology and such groundbreaking features as a built-in heater for operation in low temperatures the AJ-CVF100G far exceeds the performance of competitive models. The CVF100G is designed for operation with Panasonic’s P2 VariCam series. Utilizing a one-inch diameter imager system the CVF100G affords cinematographers color accurate viewing which minimizes the possibility of misdirected shots.  The color viewfinder delivers low maintenance costs and can accommodate larger cine-like lenses. Prevalent in HD projectors and rear-projection televisions LCOS technology offers the advantages of fast motion response excellent resolution and smooth pixel edges for a natural look and feel. Eliminating the color wheel used by some other technologies this LCOS viewfinder reduces eyestrain by delivering a complete RGB image to the shooter. The AJ-CVF100G will be available in the second quarter of 2009 at a suggested list price of $8 495. Element Technica says its new Mantis Hand-Held Kit is the industry’s most configurable and innovative shoulder-mounting solution for film and digital motion picture cameras. It is fully compatible with the Red One the forthcoming Scarlet and Epic or any camera equipped with an Arri bridge plate. The most significant feature of the system according to the company is its multi-axis adjustment which provides a variable relationship between the shoulder-pad and the dovetail to accommodate any operator’s shoulder angle. Matthews Studio Equipment will feature three new products at NAB 2009 – MAXine the light mover Monitor Mount and the RED Dolly. MAXine is manufactured out of lightweight aluminum and will support a ten-pound fixture at a seven feet high by six feet long horizontal reach. MAXine will go as high as 13 feet and will drop to 16 inches below the horizontal.

Monitor Mounts are CNC machined from 6061T-6 aluminum billet. Because it’s not a casting this mount will support any size monitor that does not exceed 65 pounds (30 kilograms). Works with light stands C-stands or any other mounting device with a 5/8-inch baby pin. Folds flat to monitor for storage and transportation. It can also be used with Matthews Baby Grid Clamp for mounting to truss.
 Red Dolly is Matthews’ newest and perhaps most versatile piece of equipment. Outfitted with Matthews’ Mini Bazooka the Red Dolly performs moves that other dollies just can’t match  - from tight 360-degree repeatable full circles to “crabbing” and the quick dolly reverse shot. Remove the seat and there is a Steadicam standing platform equipped with side receivers for lights grip equipment Bungee Cam Speed Rail rigs and more. Red Dolly also works with all Matthews’ car mount accessories.
 Post-Production Edius 5.1 the latest version of the Grass Valley multi-format/multi-resolution nonlinear editing software package now includes tighter integration with the Grass Valley Aurora digital production workflow as well as a variety of new features that the company says will help users improve productivity and get the most from their investment whether working in standard-definition or high-definition. 
 Professional editors using the Aurora platform can now take advantage of the editing toolset found in Edius as well thanks to a new optional upgrade. This new functionality gives Aurora users the ability to utilize a MediaFrame database workflow import Aurora Edit EDLs into an Edius workstation edit or read MPEG Long-GOP VMF content export completed programs into multiple servers for playout view NRCS scripts and create an Aurora “Smart Bin” directly from the Edius user interface. The new version of Edius also allows craft editors to output a completed timeline to an HD Blu-ray disc using software encoding or the optional Grass Valley FireCoder Blu H.264/MPEG-2 hardware transcoder board. In addition Edius 5.1 can download partial digital clips captured with P2 solid-state or XDCam optical disc media. This saves time and allows editors working in a file-based environment to begin working immediately without having to ingest the content. 
  “The Grass Valley Edius editing package has been very popular with customers due to its cost-effective toolset that provides users with the ability to create long-form projects with ease ” says Jeff Rosica senior vice president of Grass Valley. “These new features extend this ease of use into broader environments that make use of an expanded list of file types. We’re also making the new features of Edius 5.1 available to fast-paced news editing environments through our Aurora Edit system.”
  Other new features delivered in Edius 5.1 allow users to gain more control over audio levels with an audio normalize tool the ability to capture reel names output finished edits to multiple discs leverage multi-cam mode clip reel names and take advantage of clip markers in the Edius marker palette.
Edius 5.1 is available for the list price of $799 and is a free update for existing Edius 5 users. Aurora 6.5 users pay a small upgrade fee for Aurora-Edius-SYS package. For users with Aurora versions below 6.5 the Aurora- Edius-SYS 5.1 option is available for $5 200. Both Aurora-Edius-SYS packages will be available in May 2009. The Grass Valley FireCoder Blu H.264/MPEG-2 hardware transcoder board is available for $599 and is currently available. Da Vinci Systems will be celebrating a quarter century in the color grading and color correction business and hopes to build on that legacy with the official delivery of Impresario to customers. In addition the company will also show the evolution of its control panels. At the show colorists will be interfacing Da Vinci R-series and 2K Plus systems with Impresario. Powered by Da Vinci's advanced new processing engine C.O.R.E. (CUDA Optimized Resolve Engine) the latest R-series delivers real-time throughput of nonlinear images in film television and other commercial applications. Da Vinci is also introducing Digital PowerPlant which overcomes complex computationally intensive challenges that were once inherent in the digital grading workflow. Da Vinci will also be highligting the release of its solution designed to support color grading of native RED Raw files with the company's R-series color enhancement systems. da Vinci's new Digital PowerHouse provides direct access to RED .r3d files saving time and ensuring maximum output quality by enabling colorists to utilize the full dynamic color and density range of the original camera files. The integration of Digital PowerHouse with da Vinci's existing technologies now allows colorists to read RED Raw files directly from shared storage and then decode debayer grade and record to tape without rendering. This eliminates the need for an interim DPX conversion step low-quality non-debayered workflows or time-consuming selective debayering. Da Vinci's Digital PowerHouse is a significant leap forward for digital motion picture grading says Dean Lyon da Vinci Systems' vice president of marketing. Our digital film camera solution enables colorists to work with 4k and other resolutions natively and interactively to achieve the premium quality demanded by commercial and motion picture directors. Direct interaction with camera raw files is the future of the digital film workflow and Digital PowerHouse introduces this capability at an excellent price-performance point. Digital PowerHouse is available in three different software-and-hardware configurations based on Da Vinci's R-200 R-300 and stereoscopic R-3D and R-4K color grading systems. The bundled technologies allow colorists to scale their workflows to use any quality setting from the best (4096 x 2048 native premium resolution at 24fps debayered) to the quickest (quarter-resolution at 24fps non-debayered). A software-only option (Option DP0) is available to all Resolve and R-series customers with active support agreements. The single-server configuration (Option DP1) provides faster decode speeds on R-200 through R-350 series systems while the dual-server configuration (Option DP2) supports near instantaneous decoding and real-time performance on the R-4K system. The elegant simplicity of the Da Vinci digital film solution enables colorists to take RED files directly from the camera's hard drive load them on a SAN and immediately begin grading Lyon says. Whether they grade in full- or partial-resolution and at a certain frame rate depends on their hardware configuration. Regardless of this configuration Digital PowerHouse allows colorists to access the RED Raw files interactively leveraging the entire dynamic range of the image data. Alternative technologies leave a portion of color behind during conversion limiting grading to a more narrow range of color and density. EditShare will be exhibiting new releases from the EditShare Complete Collaboration line of storage and workflow solutions. The EditShare Complete Collaboration product line offers media acquisition sharing storage and archiving products for Postproduction DI and Broadcast multi-editing workgroups.  Seamlessly integrated from ingest to archive the EditShare Complete Collaboration workflow is the only solution to offer both Apple and Avid project sharing for editors. New on the NAB stand will be EditShare Flow version 1.2 demonstrating expanded codec support for the unique EditShare Universal Media File technology. EditShare Storage and XStream Series Version 5.5 will make its debut at NAB with a slew of new data protection and media management features including tighter integration with third-party playout servers.  The new multi-purpose archiving and back-up solution EditShare Ark will showcase support for the entire media lifecycle through seamless integration with Flow and EditShare shared storage series. With EditShare servers and storage products it doesn't matter what editing application you are using you just log in and begin working. Apple editors can work on long projects that contain Avid media files. Avid editors can freely share with each other and other non-Avid editors. It is that simple comments Andy Liebman founder and CEO EditShare. What makes our products different is that we take the 'editing without barriers' openness of our products and include features that allow users to work and manage media for specific workflows whether it be reality TV feature film DI or large-scale newsrooms. It is this approach that has made EditShare technology hugely popular from the start.