NAB 2012 Reflections
April 2012

by PF Bentley

After 6 days in Las Vegas, I was walking mumbling techno zombie among the other over 92,000 NAB attendees - or at least those who survived until the end.

My partner on these missions has been the ageless Dirck Halstead, who could not attend this year, so I was alone and on my own to trek the seemingly endless miles of the show.

NAB is always crazy, exhausting, maddening, and jammed packed with information. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Luckily they only hold it once a year. Once a year is about all anyone can take with over 1600 exhibitors stretched over all four giant halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center covering 815,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

That's a lot of gear.

Here's some of my observations from the show and not in anyway all the new gear announced from any one manufacturer.


Canon had something nice this year for it's CPS Members - a quiet private CPS room off the show floor to get your gear cleaned, see the new products and have a calm place to hang-out and re-group. Hopefully they'll do this every year. Thumbs-up from me.

On the gear front, Canon showed the C300, 1D-C and Canon 5D Mark 3 cameras. The C500 model was absent from the show but similar in shape and form to the C300. You've all read the details/specs of these cameras. The C300/500 and 1D-C 4K are important landmarks for the Hollywood, Indie and Commercial filmmakers. They come with impressive specs and impressive price tags in the "over $10,000" market. Canon just announced the C500 body price at $30,000.

We've come a long way since the "state of the art" one-chip Optura Mini DV camera in the late1990's. I actually used that camera to deliver the first Mini DV show to Nightline. It was a big step up from Hi-8 - you remember Hi-8 don't you?

Personally, after using a 7D for a several years, I'm looking forward to getting back to a full frame sensor and getting my wide angles back. I also have a more specific use for the 5D Mark 3, that will remain secret for the moment.

Now, I have a small request from Canon or Sony or Panasonic or JVC or whoever. It's a simple idea that I've been lobbying for some years and will make the manufacturer who does it right a bundle of money.

Take the XF305 or EX-1R unibody form and put a Super 35 sensor (or better yet a 5D sensor in the body). You see, there's many of us who do not have a 17 person crew with focus puller and need interchangeable lenses. We need speed and ease of use. I live and shoot in a very dusty, dirty, salt sea air environment. Changing lenses is scary to me. So much crap can end up on that exposed sensor. Oh, and one more thing - we don't have a Hollywood budget, so keep it under $10,000.

You got the body, you got the sensor, put 'em together. Simple. No need to re-invent the wheel every time you come up with a new camera. I was looking on the show floor if anyone had that camera this year. Read on.


I heard "I can't talk about that at this time" over and over from the Sony FS-700 camera display area.

The FS-700 is a nice camera with impressive specs and a Super 35 sensor. Gotta love the ultra slow motion settings and built-in ND filters that Sony said could not be put into the earlier FS-100 body - amazing how those engineers can find the room when their bottom line depends on it.

The FS-700 has interchange lenses, but wait I see a ZOOM TOGGLE on the handle - hey, this might be a camera I could use. It's not quite the same EX-1R body form....but...if they have a zoom lens and zoom toggle, with some other features I need and maybe it's something to think about buying.

So I asked the Sony rep - Hey, what's with the zoom toggle? I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THAT AT THIS TIME. Is it for a new lens? I CAN'T TALK ABOUT THAT AT THIS TIME. It was first Monday morning, the first day of the show - I wonder how many times he said that by Thursday afternoon.

Hey, Sony, your guy needs some public relations classes. How about " There maybe a zoom lens in the future, I have no info on what that lens may be or when it would be available" and say it nicely.


I ventured a few miles over the South Hall and see this new Blackmagic Cinema Camera that produces uncompressed files on a 4/3 sensor which doubles your lens focal range. It comes with a free full DeVinci Resolve color grading software program, all this for $2995. I had to see it. The booth was packed.

It's futuristic, cool and weird at the same time. I can't figure out how to hand hold it. That's for starters. The record button is in front, but not usable with your index finger, you need to use your middle finger to record and stop.

There's not optical viewfinder just a large screen in back with sunshade. Where do you attach stuff? I immediately smell third party after market potential. More rigs. More adaptations to make a product actually useful. Why don't they come up with a body form that works and make the camera specs fit that form? Why don't we all just shoot with iPads.....


In my opinion, Adobe was the editing software star of the show showing off their new CS6 Creative Suite both on the show floor and in the Post Productions Sessions. Many great new features packed in the numerous programs in the suite which is now available for ordering on the site with a mid-May of earlier delivery. I've ordered mine. Incredible upgrade, time-saving new features with cool new programs in the suite like Speed Grade. I took in every tutorial and workshop class I could on CS6. I'm ready.

For all of you wondering, yes, after FCP X came out last year, I switched to Adobe for my editing. Love ya Apple, but FCP X just is not ready for prime time professional editing yet and may not ever be. Apple made a course direction choice and I made mine. All of you editing merrily with FCPX - I'm happy for you and may the force be with you.


Yes, that's right NIKON finally came to NAB! The booth was not as large as Canon, the crowds not as intense, but it's a start. As a Canon DSLR shooter for 35 years, I hope their new cameras are great - why? Because competition makes for better products for everyone. And I mean that. To Nikon - good luck and hopefully see you there every year from now on.


The little camera that could keeps on chuggin' along with new products and upgrades. The booth as insanely crowded. As a Go Pro user, I have asking to have a flatter output algorithm so we can match the Go Pro footage to other cameras. Finally this June you will be able to download Protune and Cineform Studio for free! That's right, free. I'm sure I was not the only one asking for this. With Protune, you get an increase from 13 megabits to 35 and a much flatter image for clips. With Cineform, you can easily apply a LUT that brings back the punch without the contrast and convert the Go Pro footage into a more editable format for your system. Plus preset looks. Can't wait to try it out when it's available. The demos were very impressive.

Also from Go Pro is the new Wi-Fi BacPak and Remote Control Kit. This explanation from GoPro: The Wi-Fi BacPac attaches to the HD HERO2 camera to enable long range remote control via the Wi-Fi Remote, smartphone or tablet running a free GoPro app. Waterproof and durable, the Wi-Fi Remote enables complete control of multiple HD HERO2 cameras at a time. When paired with the Wi-Fi BacPac, the HD HERO2 also supports live preview, viewable from your smartphone or tablet via the GoPro App.

The GoPro is now being seen as a viable second or third camera on a shoot and not just an novelty action-camera. You guys keep rocking and keep changing our world.


Tired of those pesky helicopter charges on your credit card, but still need aerials? PhotoHigher, a small company from New Zealand has the answer with a remote controlled good sized photo/video helicopter type rig.

These are cost effective aerial rigs where piloted options may be too expensive or operational risks too high. I want one.


My buddy Dan Chung from DSLR NewsShooter caught up to me at the Red Rock Micro booth to show me a working prototype of a zoom controller for DSLRs called HandiZoom. WOW. Something so small that could have a large impact for DSLR video shooters. But wait, there's more....

Not only does it have a ZOOM-TOGGLE, it also controls the camera functions all in your fingertips just like a...dare I say, video camera! But wait, there's about a real built-in remote control connection that is compatible with 3rd party LANC protocol remote zoom control devices. This allows for zoom and start/stop control functionality from any compatible LANC remote control device.

I really thought this was innovative and a game changer for ease of using DSLR's to shoot video.

Let's see: Canon 5D Mark 3 can monitor and control audio, Zacuto Viewfinder and HandiZoom - pretty good combo and workable.

VizTools is currently looking for a manufacturing partner to produce the unit. No pricing was available, but if you could make it $499 or less, it would be a no-brainer purchase.


There were so many LED lights at NAB, I needed sunglasses & I thought I was getting a suntan while walking though the Central Hall. LitePanels started this revolution a few years ago and it seems everyone has jumped in on the market.

There's now a new revolution for lights and I saw it at NAB.

Zacuto of all folks is getting into the lighting market with their new Zacuto MicroPlasma Light. That's right, not LED, but plasma. Plasma is brighter and much softer than LEDs and easier on the eyes of the subject. Plus it's less expensive, lighter and thinner. Zacuto had it in a 1x1 configuration and is planning on producing smaller versions too. I look forward to seeing how this new technology idea changes the current market thirst for LED lighting. The 1x1 will retail for $1350.


Many people attended the Adobe CS6 sessions this year. However the biggest overflow crowd that I saw was for the Documentary Workshop which tells you what the interest is in these days. Thanks to the fine folks at FMC including my friends Jeff Greenberg and Abba Shapiro. Always nice to see you guys.

Jeff Greenberg's Hitchcock Moment


Mr. Horton, Himself

The Creative Pro Users Group (formally the Final Cut Pro Users Group) put on their yearly bash on Tuesday night of NAB week. Michael Horton, Dan Berube and crew did their best despite some formidable A/V issues by the venue, which shall go unnamed to protect the guilty. Oh, wait, it's in the photo, ooops! :)

Al Mooney and the largest monitor he's ever seen

Some highlights for me were Adobe's Professional Video Editing Product Manager Al Mooney's entertaining and enlightening presentation of the new CS6 (above) and documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's conversation (below) with Avid's Matt Fuery.

And of course, once again, I won nothing in the famous raffle. Mr. Horton just likes seeing me walk away dejected every year.

Well, see you in 2013, Edit-Boy! I'm coming back until I win.



G-RAID has a new 8TB Thunderbolt Raid coming out this summer. It's a RAID 0 which scares me - no back-up just raw speed. I could not tell if it was RAID configurable - like to a data safer RAID 5.

We need more Thunderbolt stuff because.....


Yes, it was talked about at NAB and what to do about it if Apple drops the Mac Pro line- up. Do we go to iMacs or is there a HP solution coming - such as Apple contracting HP to make towers that run Mac OS, now known as a Hackintosh.


External graphics card Thunderbolt enclosures? Increased GPU speeds for iMac? Hopefully this will get sorted out in the months ahead. Usually the industry comes up with solutions when it needs to.


A boy can only dream.

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