Sunday, April 14, 2013

Four Things That Caught My Eye at NAB 2013

Each April the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) holds its annual conference in Las Vegas.  If you've never gone to NAB, it's worth the trip.  Your free pass to the show floor opens a window through which a video hobbyist like myself can gawk at the world of professional production.  Handle a $300,000 studio camera, sit inside a satellite truck, watch demonstrations given by world-famous cinematographers.

On Tuesday evening, the Creative Pro User Group (CPUG, formerly FCPUG for Final Cut Users) holds its big annual "SuperMeet".  This event is actually the real reason that I attend NAB!  Tabletop demonstrations from vendors who are eager to share their excitement, followed by terrific presentations by industry superstars.  It's well worth the ten dollar cost of admission, plus you have a good chance of winning something from the $84,000 grab bag of door prizes!

Here are four things that caught my eye last week:

Quadcopter with GoPro Video Camera

DJI introduced their Phantom quadcopter a couple of months ago.  There are lots of videos on YouTube, but I hadn't seen the hardware in person.  The DJI booth was strategically placed right next to the GoPro booth at NAB 2013, and attracted a big crowd (including me).

Their quadcopter was flying overhead in the Las Vegas Convention Center; it seemed remarkably stable, maneuverable, and safe (I didn't hear about any copter-crash injuries!)  A GoPro Hero3 was mounted to the aircraft's undercarriage.  The GoPro camera has built-in WiFi; subject to range limitations a smartphone app can provide video preview and camera controls.

For less than $1,000 this quadcopter+camera would provide everything needed to torture my cats or spy on my neighbors.  Not gonna' buy today, but great to know that an affordable solution exists if we ever need to shoot some aerial footage.

This video was taken with my iPhone 4S.  Titles and sound effects were added to the clip in Final Cut Pro X, and I used the FCPX export function to post it on YouTube.  The soundtrack is a copyright-free track from YouTube.

Freefly Systems' Mōvi Gyroscopic Camera Stabilizer

Have you ever seen a photo or video of a "steadycam" operator wearing their cumbersome eighty pound exoskeleton?  Freefly Systems demonstrated their game-changer, called the Mõvi.  I won't be carrying one of these on my next vacation, but it's a fascinating bit of professional technology.  
(...and you can enter a contest to win one on Vincent Laforet's blog.) 


Panasonic Lumix GH3 Camera
My next video-capable camera might be a micro-four-thirds with interchangeable lenses.  These are lighter than DSLR's, use relatively large sensors, record with a variety of frame rates and resolutions, and offer both automatic and manual exposure controls.  Lenses with large apertures make it possible to control depth of field and bokeh that can enhance the quality of the video that we shoot.

Panasonic's Lumix GH2 surprised the world last year when it won the  2012 Zacuto Shoot Out.  Its video that was judged superior to a field of much more expensive cameras.  The newest model, Lumix GH3 has more features but is more expensive.  The GH3 has been in short supply; I finally got to handle one at Panasonic's corner of the show floor.

The Panasonic camera app was running on an iPad Mini, paired to the camera's built-in WiFi.  Very impressive .... the iPad functioned as a full-featured remote control with shutter & exposure controls plus a preview monitor.

The camera body alone has a list price of $1,299.  I think I would spend at least $600 more on lenses.  Guess what ... that's not going to happen anytime soon!  Nevertheless, I do have a bit of equipment envy.  Wait a year, new models will come out, prices will [hopefully] drop ...


Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

Speaking of camera envy....

Blackmagic Design is perhaps the most innovative player in this industry.  Known for their robust production hardware and software, they shocked us last year by introducing an aggressively-priced large-sensor high-dynamic-range cinema camera.

This year the $995 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera grabbed my attention!  Like the Panasonic GH3 it shoots 1080p hi-def movies, using a micro-four-thirds lenses; the BPCC sensor is slightly smaller (Super16).  All of Blackmagic's camera offerings promise extremely wide dynamic range, allowing us to shoot bright objects while retaining picture clarity in the shadows.

Tiny and lightweight, it's not much larger than an iPhone.  Of course, with either of these cameras you would need to buy a high-quality lens to get those great results.


Well, that's it for my quick look at NAB 2013.
If you want to learn more, just do a web search or click on one of the links that I provided.  Many magazines and websites offer in-depth coverage of NAB.  Those experienced writers work in the trade and have a different perspective compared to us amateurs.

My next post will return to looking at amateur video, and ways that we can transform mind-numbing raw footage into something that our friends might like to watch!

1 comment:

  1. When you said 4 things you admired on your trip to vegas I assumed it would involve twins.


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