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NAB 2012 wrap-up


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 04:03 PM

People keep asking me what's most exciting at NAB 2012.

Short answer: not a lot. The Canon C500 is big camera news, but it's not out yet, and frankly was common knowledge among the press for weeks before the show. The Blackmagic camera is nice, but it's only a small sensor and likely to be performance-limited by its extremely competitive price point. Sony have announced a 4K camera capable of high frame rates, but it'll either be expensive or noisy.

All of these things are good, but exciting? Not really. It was fairly obvious that Canon would make a 4K version of the C300 simply by adding a raw data output. It was fairly obvious that AJA would make a 4K Ki Pro recorder. So it's not so much a year of excitement, as one of a nice progression of technology, more or less what we'd hope to see and nice to see it happen as expected.

Small things have happened as well. In post, the excellent Mocha motion tracker now has a 3D solver, which saves people using egregious workarounds with corner pinning to get 3D information out of it. Adobe have released CS6, which is very nice. The list goes on.

What perhaps is most telling is that there are simply so many new products. While recent NAB shows haven't been as barren as one might have feared given the broader economic situation, there's a certain sense of climbing back up to normality now. This is entirely subjective and perhaps inaccurate; it's hard to get a broad view on new technology until it's actually released and in use, which tends to be what we find at IBC later in the year and in the months after that.

At which point, we'll be back in Vegas again, and asking all these questions about another raft of new stuff. This really is the end of NAB, anyway, as I'm about to be chucked out of the room for another year.

Hope it's been worth reading.

Best,

P
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for your astute analysis, Phil, I found it useful.

I was there for 2 days and had a similar reaction. Mainly I look forward to trade shows as a way of catching up with people. What I saw at NAB was an evolution of trends:

-- 3D is getting more "mature" with more and more bits of kit available to shoot it, etc. but the principles and problems are the same that they have been for decades if not over a century.

-- 4K is becoming less burdensome to shoot and post, and even display. I still don't think that home cinema needs to get beyond 1080P/HD due to the average viewing distance, but I certainly would love to see a 4K standard for acquisition and cinema display, if not even higher acquisition resolutions.

Oversampling generally looks good, that's all. In fact, I think really it's becoming more about oversampling color information and dynamic range rather than detail. What I liked about the Sony F65 short "El Dorado" was that it had such natural skintones, not over or under-saturated, not greyed, not bright orange, not band-aid-colored, just believable and, well, film-like. I think a combination of the high resolution of the sensor and the use of ACES for color management and conversion through a 16-bit linear color correction may have had something to do with that, I don't know. But it reminded me of the color improvement I see in 65mm material over 35mm, like when I saw "Far and Away" in 70mm -- I was seeing subtle shades in skintones that I didn't see in 35mm even with the same emulsion being used. I suspect it was due to the higher number of grains capturing a patch of complex color.

"Loom", shot on Epics, also looked good, very cinematic, whatever that means. I just hated the 3D Oakley sunglasses since they didn't fit around my eyeglasses.

The Blackmagic camera looks affordable enough to be fun, the way that the Digital Bolex looks potentially fun, and the way that the never-released fixed-lens 2/3" Scarlet looked fun... meaning I can't imagine spending more than $4000 or so to have fun with a camera doing personal projects.

4K images on big 4K displays look gorgeous, if I just want to spend my home life looking at nature shots on TV... but I couldn't forget that I just wrapped a TV series with a lot of female performers who would nail me to a tree if they saw themselves photographed with that level of sharpness. On some of the 4K material, I saw pimples inside of pimples on some 20-year-olds. But I guess that's why God invented diffusion filters.
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#3 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 09:18 AM

4K images on big 4K displays look gorgeous, if I just want to spend my home life looking at nature shots on TV... but I couldn't forget that I just wrapped a TV series with a lot of female performers who would nail me to a tree if they saw themselves photographed with that level of sharpness. On some of the 4K material, I saw pimples inside of pimples on some 20-year-olds. But I guess that's why God invented diffusion filters.

I do think that a lot of sharpness can be good on occasion, natures or big picture wides come to mind, but besides the worry of faces/good looks, I've always wondered about certain production aspects like sets or props coming off wrong.

Just whizzing through my head are a tonne of film scenes that I would feel either ruined or perhaps repulsed by to watch in extreme detail.

I also never liked a lot of the early digital stuff where they'd slap diffusion filters, but it's getting there.
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#4 Keith Walters

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 08:11 AM

I know this might come across as being sarcastic, but did anybody check out the RED tent?
Jannard has been rattling on about all the wonders to be seen there for some months; did anybody actually go there?
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#5 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 03:00 PM

Phil, David, thanks for the NAB reports. From what I've read, it's one of those NAB where not a lot of exciting stuff is shown, but there's a hint to it. It took me just a quick look at a picture taken of the new Arri/Zeiss anamorphics to get excited, but that's me ;) . Hopefully I'll make it to IBC or CamerImage later this year so I can see those lenses not on a computer screen and before they hit rental houses next year.
Thanks again!
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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:38 PM

The memorable thing for me was seeing the F65 material on Sony's OLED displays. Nothing new, at least not that new, but good grief, it was gorgeous. As Mr Mullen mentions above, oversampling looks nice, and that much oversampling - an 8K Bayer (or at least bayer-esque, subsampled) sensor onto a 2K display makes the noise very, very insignificant indeed, making a lot more stops of shadow detail available.



And F65 isn't even (that) expensive, especially if you eschew the comically overpriced and oversized Sony SR-R1 recorder (although I'm not sure what else supports absolutely all the 65's clever modes).



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