NAB 2010
The Year of the 5D, 7D, 1D, 3D, iPad and GoPro
May 2010

by PF Bentley

It was the year of HDSLR accessories and 3D at the annual giant NAB Show this year in Las Vegas. After teaching an intense Las Vegas Platypus HDSLR Workshop with my colleague Dirck Halstead and four days of roaming the four large exhibit halls, talking to reps and developers and going to post production workshops and going to the annual Final Cut Pro Super Meet, by the last day of the show (and 15 days in Vegas) I was among the Walking Dead at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Everywhere you turned there seemed to be a booth with lenses, mounts, and follow focus units for the Canon EOS HDSLR series. (And if youʼre wondering about Nikon - I was too. They were absent from the show and I did finally find a booth that had one D300 body and lens.)

Canon showed off itʼs new XF305/300 full HD digital video cameras that shoot 4:2:2 color (twice the resolution of 4:2:0) at 50Mbps on CF cards. These cameras look and feel like the older HDV XHA & G1 models in body shape and size but with much higher data output and quality than any previous models, plus shooting 24p, 30p and 60p. The footage blew my socks off along with much improved low light sensitivity.

What was interesting to me was the crowd size at the Canon presentation area. The crowds were large when showing off the new XF305/300 models, but just enormous whenever one of the Canon Explorers of Light such as Vincent Laforet was talking about shooting with the 5D, 7D or 1D models and showing their films. The interest in HDSLRs and their capabilities is growing by leaps and bounds.

There was continuing talk at the Canon booth about putting the 5D sensor into some sort of still camera/video camera hybrid body and when that might happen - which brings us to Panasonic, who have done just that with the new AG-AF100 model shown with lenses under glass like the Hope Diamond with a Panasonic rep or two close by. (I was sure there were alarm sensors somewhere!) This camera uses the 4/3 chip that they have had in their GH-1 and incorporated it into a more video type body for scheduled release in January 2011. The sensor is almost as large as a full size Hollywood style 35MM film camera. The proposed price is around $6,000 range when it comes out, and it shoots 24mbps AVCHD format.

Panasonic also made a leap in another brave new world, with their new AG-3DA1, an easy to use 3D camera in a compact body. It will be out in October for around $21,000.

Just when I finally figured out after 20 years how to shoot and edit in 2D, now this! What am I, James Cameron? I can see it now, Final Cut Pro 8 in 3D.

Zacuto showed off their new Target Shooter which just like the now discontinued Rapid Fire but with a new mounting plate that can also be used with the updated Z-Finder which eliminates the old style Z-bands and stickie mount to the camera method of having to secure the Z-Finder to the LCD of your camera. They also had the new Striker rig and released a new fog less Z-Finder.

One thing I love about NAB is fast on the spot customer service - two cases in point:

When I got the new Zacuto Z-Finder mounting plate system and set it up, I found that my Beachtek DXA-SLR stuck out on the left side of the camera body. Jens Bogehegn, products designer for Zacuto, took measurements and will have a newer plate with a screw slot for the Beachtek by the time you read this.

IDC, a company owned by filmmaker and director Bruce H. Dorn, had the new updated IDC Follow-focus, a gearless, rodless device that for under $400. In this age of $1200 to $2000 follow focus units, I liked this set-up a lot. If youʼre like me and have been trying to not use rails since it hampers being able to go from tripod to hand-held quickly, this might be worth looking into. They also make a model for the 70-210 with two wheels that control focus and zoom.

Bruce took measurements on the spot to drill holes in the baseplate to accommodate the new Zacuto Finder mounting system for future plates and not just the Hoodman finder. Get the black Pro Wheel with the set-up for an extra $40. The wheel also takes half inch tape for marking focus pulls.

In the Little Camera That Could category - it was all about GoPro, the small camera that shoots wide angle HD and can be placed just about anywhere. One of the surprise hits of NAB, they sold what seemed like a million cameras to everyone at NAB including me at the show price $200.

Their large exciting booth was in the middle of the Central Hall and they had quite the show with racing cars, cameras, continuous footage on big HD monitors with lots of knowledgeable reps their to answer all questions. (Plus the new GoPro 3D rig available soon.) Be prepared to see much GoPro footage online in the months ahead.

Zeiss showed off itʼs new line of high-end Compact Prime for HDSLRs. Very nice glass to say the least. You can buy the whole set that includes 7 lenses ranging from 18mm to 85mm with a Pelican style case for around $27,000. Lenses are sold individually too.

Not be outdone, Leica showed itʼs new set of cine lenses too. According to Band Pro the price for the set of 8 is $178,000 which includes the18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm. Unfortunately for me I left my $178,000 in cash at the hotel. I wonder what the tax is on that....

For all of you, like me who like the compactness of the two-stage tripod but want to easy convenience and speed of a one-stage, check out Sachtlerʼs Speed Lock 75, an ingenious set-up that operates both stages with one lever for each leg. I was impressed. Get that with a FSB 4 or FSB 6 Head and youʼre set to go.

Need a travel teleprompter and not some big studio set-up? ProPrompter had iPhone and iPad teleprompters that work with $10 software. For those incognito assignments, just shoot with the iPhone and edit with VeriCorder iPhone editing software.

Those big mobile live report trucks may be a thing of the past when you use the TVU Backpack. Yes, they have finally compacted the entire truck into a wearable backpack for live reports from “our person on the scene”! According to TVU You can get news first in places no van or truck can reach and everything you need for an on-site newscast for $12,000 per pack.

Weighing at at 13 pounds the backpack is a self-contained content capture and data transmission set-up using wi-fi lines. You might think the price is high, but you can outfit many live crews for the price of one mobile truck. Expect this technology to only get better and less expensive in the future.

We got an app for that: For all you filmmakers out there hereʼs two iPhone apps Panascout by Panavision and Movie Slate by PureBlend Software. Both are $9.99 from the Apple App store. For more info check their websites. Very handy software that do much in a small package.

Mike Horton and the gang from the LA Final Cut Pro Users Group put on another wild and wacky Las Vegas Super Meet night at the Rio Hotel. Great vendors (and show deals), great food, great people, but unfortunately once again, I did not win anything in their famous incredible giant raffle. Hopefully one of these years Iʼll win something (anything!) before Iʼm in some old photogs/filmmakers home, drooling into a bag and too weak to travel. Yet again, maybe a congressional investigation is warranted concerning my ongoing losing streak...

The folks at Future Media Concepts did another informative Post Production World with their usual guru instructors. I can not say enough good things about FMC. The famous Abba Shapiro and the infamous Jeff Greenberg always make my day and I learn some new Final Cut Pro techniques, tips & tricks. If your lucky, one of them drops into the otherʼs class and you get quite the entertaining show. Great seeing you guys again along with everyone else from FMC and thanks.

Finally when a crane is not enough, how about a crane mounted on a Mini-Cooper! Yes, FilmoTechnic had one of these babies to check out. Dirck and I liked it so much, that the next 297 people that sign up for a Platypus Workshop in the next 10 minutes will get one of these rigs for free*. This includes the crane, camera and vehicle with a full tank of gas - turn-key and ready to roll.

Thatʼs about it. Elvis has left the building and catch you next year in Vegas.

*While supplies last. Void where prohibited. Please film and drive responsibly. Do not use your cell phone when operating the camera while driving. Observe local laws.

© PF Bentley

PF Bentley is Lead Instructor at the Platypus Workshops.

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