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My Day at NAB '06


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#1 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:55 PM

I now have some time to write more about my short day at NAB. The whole event is so huge I pretty much briefly scanned by what I was most interested in because I only had a few hours - I was back on a plane to LA the next morning.

For some reason every year Panasonic is always the first booth I see. Last year I spent a great deal of time at the Panasonic booth asking questions about P2 and the upcoming HVX-200. I actually still have not shot with that camera. A couple of times I’ve attempted to shoot with it the producers picked something else. Either we had a DVX available for free or the producer was uncertain about shooting on P2 cards and loosing a days work.

This year I looked around Panasonic to briefly see if there was anything new. Mostly the booth was about the HVX-200 and P2 workflow, not much new. What they did display however was a monstrous 103 inch plasma television. I thought plasma was giving way to LCD. The image was very sharp, very clear. I walked around the screen in about 170 degree arc and the picture never changed the way it does with LCD. I could clearly see from edge to edge.

I briefly saw a couple of mock ups Panasonic had, such as a P2 1080P HD camera and a P2 SDX-900 type camera. I did not stop to ask questions about them. I’m sure we will hear all about them when there are working prototypes.

My next stop was Kino Flo. I use Kinos all the time. I sometimes feel as though its cheating because its so easy to get a beautiful light out of them. Especially with small units near the face.

Kino was displaying new small units something like their Divalite and ParaZip. I cannot remember the name of the new lights. But they were small, had the fluorescent tubes wrapped in a U shape. The lights had larger parabolic reflectors for more throw. The case was made of metal and instead of those plastic flaps they had honey comb frames for cutting and shaping the light. The rep told me they will have honey comb grids that will shape the rectangular light into a circle.

Next went and found Aaton because I wanted to see Penelope. But the camera was a very rough mock up that was tucked in a corner. It didn’t even seem to have a viewing system. I love the XTR Prod and looked forward to seeing the XTR Prod 2. I hope what I saw was a rough design. It seemed a bit frakensteined together. The new accessories made it loose the symmetry and grace of the original XTR.

My next stop was Arriflex. What I actually was expecting to see was the new Arri Master Zoom. When I didn’t see it I asked an Arri rep and they said the Master Zoom was not for general use at the moment it was only being rented for limited use at ArriMedia and CSC in New York.

So I moved on to look at the ArriMAX 12/18 HMI. Before I got to it I saw a small camera spinning in a display case. I thought to myself what is with that miniature 535. I read the text on the display case which said this is the new 416 a super 16 camera. I was in shock and awe. Arri produced a new super 16 camera. I walked around the other side of the display were they had the actual 416 on a tripod. I asked to touch it. The rep allowed me to look through the viewfinder, which was the clearest viewfinder I have ever seen on a 16 camera. He took the camera off of the tripod so I could hold it. It was remarkably light, of course it had no film in it. Felt very natural and balanced on my shoulder. One rep did a demonstration of loading the 416 magazine. The camera loads much like the Aaton. He said the magazine can be loaded and on the camera in 30 seconds.

I’ve used the SR2 and SR 3 many times. After I used an Aaton LTR then an Aaton XTR Prod I instantly fell in love with them and have not used the SR as much anymore. The 416 is a huge improvement.

I was told that Marc Shipman-Mueller would soon be giving a presentation on the 416 in the nearby Kodak booth. So I walked over to the Kodak booth which had a small theater set up with a Barco digital projector. Kodak’s booth over all was much better this year than it was last. I sat in the theater and watched a promo spot showing NFL Film clips. The promo was a short story about how the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks won their respective division title playoff games to go to the Super Bowl. The promo used images of these large men and their lumbering and graceful energy to show the advantages of film. The football thrown from the quarterbacks hand spiraling high in the air in slow motion. As the ball comes to earth in the hands of a receiver the lens zooms out to reveal the receiver completing a touchdown. Those NFL Film guys really amaze me they keep a ball flying through the air in a close up in focus and zoom out to see the guy catching it. This is all within scant seconds. But anyway people want to see images and Kodak delivered this year as apposed to last year.

Marc Shipman-Mueller shows with a 416 and gives his presentation. He says Arri decided to invest in a new camera because super 16 is doing very well. The ability to scan super 16 into a digital file has given it a new life. Kodak is having great sales in 16mm film. Rental houses are having shortages in 16mm cameras because their inventory is out working. Cooke, Canon, and Arri/Zeiss have introduced new 16mm lens. Despite the hype for the next new digital camera all of these are clear signs that in the real working world there is a healthy demand for super 16 cameras.

A short clip was shown about the history of Kodak in 16mm film development and the history of Arriflex in 16mm camera development. The clip went through old film stocks and cameras up to today with Vision 2 and the Arri 416. I thought the presentation was really nice and much better than what Kodak presented last year.

I spent about an hour between Arri and Kodak I did not get an opportunity to ask questions about the ArriMAX. That is the first time I’ve seen an open face HMI. Normally a bare HMI light with no protection could risk giving people sun burn and increase risk of skin cancer. I also did not get to ask more questions about the Master Zoom but time was running so I moved on to the South Hall.

I took a peek at Apple and Avid. The big news at Avid essentially was about their Unity SAN. They will officially support other clients who are not Avid based to share media on their network, such as Final Cut Pro.

Not much big news at Apple. Most of the pro apps are now universal, which means they work on both Power PC Macs as well as the new Intel Core Macs. New codec’s for Final Cut Pro such as Sony XDCAM HD.

I briefly stopped at Blackmagic to talk about their newest Decklink cards. I am looking at getting the card when I buy my next Power Mac. My dream is to edit my reel in HD sometime in the future.

I briefly went to the Microsoft booth just to take a look at what the evil (bloated) empire was up to. They had a running beta of Windows Vista. The rep let me play with Windows Media Player 11 and Internet Explorer 7. I did like the layout and presentation of WMP 11. I do think its more polished and refined than the default way iTunes displays your music library. Even though iTunes does display your video library in a slick fashion. Hopefully they will do the same with music. The one question I asked the guy is why did WMP for Mac suck so badly. Quicktime for Windows is not a totally different application from native Quicktime in the same sense that WMP for Mac is nothing at all like the version for Windows. Of course the guy had no idea.

The future Explorer 7 pretty much does what Safari, Firefox, and just about every other browser already does now.

I asked the guy about the feature that allows you to flip through all of the windows on your screen. He smiled and says “ah we don’t have that working”. In some ways the Vista interface did not feel much different I’ve been looking at a lot of the same eye candy on OS X for the past four years. MS has gone crazy with the transparency though its way too much. Some of the design and buttons look like 1950’s SciFi. Or what people in the 50’s would imagine the year 2000 would look like.

I moved on to that mini city they call the Sony booth. It was a madhouse as always. I took a general look around. Last year HDV was the featured star, this year it was XDCAM HD. I tried to sit and listen to presentations just in case they said anything new, but it was all pretty much market speak about how XDCAM will solve all your problems. I got bored and moved on.

I sat in the Sony theater and watched the presentation show on Sony’s 4K SXRD projector. This year the presentation was much better. Last year was horrible. They seemed to have underestimated how bad HDCAM could look projected from a 4K projector. The 4K projector looks really good I saw no obvious signs of digital problems. I would really like to see it on a larger screen with very contrasty and fast moving images that would be the ultimate test.

The projector was on display for close inspection. It’s a great deal larger than it appears in pictures. Or maybe I already had an idea in my mind of the size of digital projectors. Take the largest one I’d seen and increase its size by three times.

As I was milling around this guy was finishing talking to a Sony rep. After his conversation he stood near me. I’m not sure why he began to talk to me, but he began saying how much he liked Sony’s cameras. I shook my head and agreed. He laughed and told me a story about a broadcast company he worked with years ago and he made his first big Sony purchase. He came to NAB to look at Sony’s first models of three chip digital signal processing cameras. He placed an order for 60 of them. Sony invited him to a party at a hotel suite. Later that night he went to the party in a large lavish Vegas hotel room. The Sony reps take him into the room he tells me with wide eyes there were scantily clad girls everywhere. The guy laughs and says it was a fun night.

I also heard rumors of Sony introducing a new CineAlta camera. But I did not see the camera or hear any real confirmation of it. Now I’ve seen the camera in pictures on other websites. Its basically the Genesis body and magazine with 2/3 inch sensors.

After that I walked around and found the RED circus tent, complete with a show barker calling at crowd to see the wondrous cinomatagraph. I walk into the tent to see a shiny chrome shaft behind thick glass case. The only part that made the shaft to appear anything like a camera was the fact that it had a Cooke S4 prime lens mounted. Another display case had the shaft with the new Cooke CXX zoom lens. One of my first thoughts was oh Cooke has released their new zoom where can I go see it.

In another corner of the tent was a guy standing next to a sign that showed all of RED’s specs and he was telling everyone what this chrome shaft will be able to do some day in the future.

When I saw a RED rep, I began to ask him questions he’s probably been asked all day long. My first question was were is the viewfinder. I asked about storage and post workflow. He said the viewfinder was still in development, he told me about the RED storage ideas. I said there is no way 4K is going to fit on a hard drive inside the camera. He said that was still in development. I asked about how people will edit 4K, he said it was still in development.

I really wanted to go see where I could find that Cooke lens so I left the tent. Outside I run into Phil Rhodes and Geoff Boyle. Phil and I talk for awhile when Jim Jannard walks up he and Geoff begin to have a discussion. Geoff tells Jim this doesn’t do anything to convince him RED will work. Geoff says he doesn’t understand how Jannard will pull this off. Jannard explains they have been working on something’s that no one has yet seen and that it will work. Geoff says he has done the math on a camera recording and storing 4K data in real time and he doesn’t see how Jannard’s team can do this effectively at that price point. So they both leave with somewhat of a gentlemen’s bet. Geoff will grovel at Jannard’s feet for his accomplishment if he can have a working camera by next NAB.

Phil and I talk about meeting with this forums administrator Tim Tyler later that evening. I tell Phil I will show up but I wanted to go find that Cooke Zoom.

By this time its almost 6 o’clock in the evening and NAB is about to close. That leaves no time to really go find the Cooke Zoom. I have plans to meet with a friend for diner after I finished at NAB.

Later that evening I meet with Phil Rhodes and Tim Tyler at a nearby bar. Phil and Tim bought me two rounds of sangria. Its really nice to place a face and a real person to the name. I had a really good time. It was great seeing you both. Next time the sangria is on me.
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#2 Tim Tyler

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 02:42 PM

Its really nice to place a face and a real person to the name. I had a really good time. It was great seeing you both. Next time the sangria is on me.


Same here, Tenolian! It was great meeting you guys. I'm bummed that Tim Carroll didn't make it even though I saw him at the ARRI booth.

Next year we must plan a little more; maybe have some T-shirts made or something :)
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#3 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 03:26 PM

I forgot to add. In Mueller's presentation he said the 416 would come with the viewfinder and four magazines for $89,000 USD. But now I can't remember if that was the cost of the 416 Regular or the 416 Plus. I imagine it was the regular.

From my personal experience I don't really see the need for a high speed 416. I've shot plenty of over crank but never had a reason to go over 75 fps.

The one thing I did ask about and will ask about when I see Arri reps again is an 800' magazine. When shooting longer projects the 22 minute mag is really nice.

An 800' mag would disrupt the compact feel of the 416, but in a studio configuration I think the 22 minutes of run time is worth the trade off.
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#4 Tim Carroll

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 04:36 PM

Same here, Tenolian! It was great meeting you guys. I'm bummed that Tim Carroll didn't make it even though I saw him at the ARRI booth.

Next year we must plan a little more; maybe have some T-shirts made or something :)


Tim,

Sorry I couldn't make Tuesday night. Got tied up with other commitments. Did enjoy meeting and talking with you Monday at the ARRI booth. How'd those pics turn out? :)

-Tim

PS: My big excitement of the show, besides getting to spend time looking at and playing with the ARRI cameras and the Aaton cameras (I am such a motion picture camera geek), was the chance to meet and talk with Garrett Brown in person. Been reading alot about the Steadicam and its development, and to get to meet the man in person and talk with him briefly was a real thrill.
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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 10:58 PM

How'd those pics turn out?

...was the chance to meet and talk with Garrett Brown in person.


I'll email you the 416 mag pix so you can write a 'how to load a 416' post.

Re: Steadicam... I usually get to chat with GB at NAB, and I especially wanted to thank him for something this year, but I ended up spending 20 minutes with Jerry Holway and the new Ultra2 as GB was busy doing his thing. What a work of art and engineering that thing is. The Steadicam has come so far. The genius brains that dream up and implement camera support and balance solutions for motion picture cameras hold a special place in my heart.
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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 02 May 2006 - 10:48 PM

Sorry I missed you guys on Tuesday night. NAB is always so big and my feet hurt so much. Ran into Phil at the CML party though. Was anyone as impressed with the Silicon Imaging camera prototype as I was? And the Phantom 65, a 4k camera that was actually up and working.
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#7 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 12:26 PM

How was the CML get together? I had to leave that morning.

Did not see the other 4K cameras. Phil told me someone had something that would at least take a 4K picture. Did those companies give any detail on the idea of their workflow? Unfortunately in my short time I did not get to see everything.

Is the Ultra 2 Steadicam the one that has the camera stabilizer and swings in an arc up and down? I saw a guy walking around with that and thought it looked cool, but did not have time to really check it out.
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#8 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 02:48 PM

The info I've heard is that Arri will not make an 800 ft. mag. They say that there isn't a demand for it.

Tenolian, the Ultra2 is not the stabilizer that you're talking about. What you're talking about is called the Alien-Revolution. It's made by MK-V and has been around for about a year or two now. But the Ultra2 looks great. They did a really big re-design on it and I've been hearing good things about. I'm looking forward to the chance to fly it. I'm sure they'll have it at Cinegear. Tiffen has also designed new batteries with IDX that sound incredible. There is a thread about it on the Steadicam Forum.
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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 02:57 PM

There is a thread about it on the Steadicam Forum.


Where is the Steadicam Forum? I guess I'm a real moron but I can't seem to find it. I thought it was somehow connected to this forum. Any directions to it would be appreciated.

Thanks,
-Tim
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#10 Tenolian Bell

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Posted 03 May 2006 - 03:52 PM

The info I've heard is that Arri will not make an 800 ft. mag. They say that there isn't a demand for it.


Yeah that's what they told me also. I suspect they are basing this on the lack of enthusiasm for the 800' mag on the SR3. Which was clearly an afterthought and gave the camera an awkward shape.

I can imagine those used to Aaton cameras will request 800' mags.

The Aaton 800' mag was a much better designed system. I've used the XTR with 800' mags it makes life easier when running time is more important than having a small light camera.

An 800' mag for the 416 would be much more like the Aaton mag than the SR3.
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#11 Tim Tyler

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Posted 04 May 2006 - 10:38 AM

Where is the Steadicam Forum?

http://SteadicamForum.com/
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#12 Chris Cooke

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Posted 02 June 2006 - 01:47 PM

Any more news on the 416? I just contacted my Arri rep here in Canada about it but he hasn't got back to me yet. Those ultra 16 primes look great but where's Zeiss' s16 zoom lens with a PL mount? I found an Angenieux 7-81 HR lens that I think will work well with the 416. Does anyone have experience with this lens?
These are the differences between the 416 and the 416 plus straight from Arri's website. I'm glad to see that the 416 can be upgraded. I wonder what the price difference is.

Q: What is the difference between the 416 and the 416 Plus?
A: The 416 has the same connectors (BAT, REMOTE, RS) as the 235, plus a standard LEMO timecode connector. The 416 Plus has additional accessory electronics integrated. You can plug lens motors directly into the 416 Plus, and it contains a radio for wireless remote control of camera (RUN/STOP, fps, preferences, ramps) and lens (focus, iris, zoom).

Q: Can I upgrade the 416 to a 416 Plus?
A: Yes. The difference between 416 and 416 Plus is the right side of the camera. The whole right side can be removed and the 416 right side can be replaced with the right side of the 416 Plus.
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