The National Association of Broadcasters, or NAB, calls itself "The Best Show On Earth." Held April 6-11 in Las Vegas, it is the world's largest electronic media event, covering film, entertainment, and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. With more than 90,000 attendees from 151 countries, and 1,600+ exhibitors, NAB is the ultimate marketplace for digital media. From creation to consumption, across multiple platforms and countless nationalities, NAB is home to solutions that surpass traditional broadcasting and encompass content delivery to new screens in new ways. It is the ultimate video geek toy store!
A problem with covering the show every year - the amount of walking you have to do. To give you an idea of its sheer size, imagine the three Detroit automaker plants sitting side by side. Our team, including the legendary PF Bentley and Roger Richards, estimates that we hiked nearly 10 miles per day in order to take in all the exhibits.
On display were such disparate items as new lens filters and full-size helicopters. Want to see the latest in high-tech video trucks, you got it. Exhibitors like Fred Beck, of becktv.com, are on hand with order books at the ready to sell you a completely equipped TV station remote broadcast van. Just hand him your credit card.
THE PLATYPUS AWARDS FOR 2013
This year we are giving awards to those items that we feel are the most useful and innovative products for the Platypus. So let's get right to them.
THE PLATINUM AWARD: JVC GY-HM 650
It is unlikely that a Platypus is going to buy a remote van this year, but suppose you are working for a newspaper that sends you out to a breaking news story on deadline, and needs to have your video fed back to the desk instantly, while you are still covering the story.
How do you get that live truck capability with just your camera? The answer: the JVC GY-HM 650.
Effective with the 2.0 upgrade, which will be available in May, the GY-HM 650 adds live transmission (streaming) while recording to memory cards. The transmission at selected resolutions and bitrates is possible independent of the recording mode. As far as we could tell, this is the only camera that will be capable of outputting video direct to your desk. Streaming output in the background WHILE you are still shooting. Dual codecs make it possible to record for 2 screens simultaneously. Full HD on one memory card and a smaller web-friendly file on another card. So you can transmit the footage back to the desk with the camera's built-in FTP and WIFI connectivity. This is a HUGE advance. As PF says, "It's live truck in your pocket."
The GY-HM 650's long (23x) wide-angle lens is perfect for fast paced ENG. The camera offers superb low light performance with f11 sensitivity at 2000 lux. There are dual XLR inputs, and even a GPS function.
This camera clearly breaks through a lot of barriers, especially for newspaper photojournalists. It will cost around $5,995 with lens.
THE GOLD AWARD: EOS-1D C
The big buzz word at the show was 4K. With more and more filmmakers adapting DSLRs for movie work, the Holy Grail is Ultra High Definition quality. This allows a filmmaker to shoot for the big screen, which was heretofore unthinkable. The new Canon DSLR, at around $10,500, is aimed at this market.
For anyone familiar with Canon's EOS-5D Mark II or the EOS-1D product lines, the compact size and weight of the EOS-1D C will be immediately recognizable. The first Canon hybrid DSLR to offer onboard 4K recording at 24p or HD recording at a range of frame rates up to 60p; and Clean HD via HDMI. The EOS-1D C offers additional capabilities for film and TV production as well as specialty image acquisition applications. With this innovation Canon has now future-proofed its brand.
The camera was shown with Canon's new line of EF movie lenses. Including ultra fast new prime lenses that moviemakers demand. In fact, one of the big trends from all manufacturers were huge new 2.5 lenses that ran the focal length gamut. Lenses are getting much larger, heavier and more expensive to take advantage of 4K capabilities. These lenses are not intended for average Platypus use. Both the lenses and the cameras are aimed at studio filmmakers.
THE SILVER AWARD: STEALTHY STABILIZER
We're always on the lookout for new products that are simple yet innovative. Our favorite gadget this year was the Stealthy stabilizer by VariZoom. NO VEST REQUIRED (sorry Vince Laforet). This is a combination lightweight camera mount that can be used for a hand held or 3-point shooter mode, a short monopod mode to balance on your knee, a tabletop triode, or a full-length monopod, all of which can hang from a quick-draw belt clip. This clever piece of equipment will only set you back about $340.
GOOD IDEA, BUT NOT QUITE THERE AWARD: THE BLACKMAGIC POCKET CINEMA CAMERA
This camera from Blackmagic Design drew a lot of attention.
As a "looking cool" camera it is a standout. And you can own this "Pocket Cinema Camera" for $999. It is a very small super 16 digital film camera with 13 stops of dynamic range, super 16 sensor size with an active micro four thirds (MFT) lens mount. It records 1080HD resolution files direct to SD cards.
According to the manufacturer: "The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a true high dynamic range film look camera in an extremely portable size, so now you can shoot cinema quality in situations never before possible! Imagine shooting a documentary, episodic television production, television commercial or independent film in the true quality of digital film. With its extremely compact size, you can covertly shoot important and historic events such as wars, protests and other conflict in cinema quality and get a more realistic record of the event. Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is a true revolution in how you can shoot digital cinema!"
The reality, however, is that there is no way to work with this camera easily. The LCD on the rear is too big to put a viewfinder on it, so you have to hold it out in front of you, which means its difficult to hold steady. And which also makes it difficult to be covert (one of the big selling points). Why couldn't they have put an optical viewfinder mount on it?
Of course PF and Roger have their own closing comments about the show which will be in the next and final installment. Stay tuned.