Ant’s NAB 2011 – Best of the Show Floor
The 2011 NAB Show in Las Vegas just wrapped up last week and as always there were plenty of hot new cameras and tools for filmmakers unveiled and equal measures of education and inspiration in the panels and classes. Here are my favorite picks from the show floor. You can LISTEN to my commentary on these products at the link below this post…
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The Super Cameras:
We’ll be weighing in on the specifics of some of these cameras tonight on the Double Down Film Show , but here are the top prosumer-level cameras that were gathering buzz at his year’s show and links to more info on each:
The Red Scarlet and The Red Epic (Price TBD)
Panasonic AG-AF100 ($5000.00)
Sony PMW-F3 Super 35mm Camera ($16,000 w/o lens)
The Best of the Rest of the Floor:
1. The Sony HXR-NX70U
The newest of Sony’s NX Cam line up is water and dust-resistant and just to prove it, Sony displayed it with a live picture on the view finder while continually running water over it in a fishtank!
- Records in AVCHD
- Native 16:9 CMOS sensor
- Memory Stick or SD Cards
- Ultra-wide Angle 26.3mm G lens
- Assignable Lens Ring (Focus/Zoom/Iris)
- Infrared NightShot® (night vision)
- built-in 96GB flash memory (8hrs at 28Mbps)
- Simultaneous recording to the Memory card and built-in flash is possible in some modes.
- 1920×1080 60P full HD recording at 28Mbps
- GPS Geo Tagging A built-in GPS receiver
- 3.5” touch-screen LCD display (921K)
- Direct Copy to external HDD without PC
- Detachable handle/ professional audio control unit
Ant’s Take: A tough little affordable camera like this may be a good choice for high schools, action sports and extreme shooting situations such as third-world environments and notoriously rainy places.
2. Sound Devices PIX 220 & 240 Digital Video Recorder ($1600.00 / $2600.00)
Sound Devices, already an industry leader in digital audio devices such as their 702 Recorder or 302 Mixer has stepped up their game to cross over into the world of large format video with a brand new digital video/audio recorder Quick Stats:
- Quicktime file type
- 5-inch, 800 x 480 pixel display
- Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD* codec at multiple data rates
- Mic preamps phantom, limiters, line input
- CompactFlash or removable 2.5-inch solid-state hard drives
- Mac OS and Windows compatibility
- built-in time code generator, with genlock (PIX 240 only)
- Simultaneous HDMI and HD-SDI output (PIX 240 only)
- Up/Down/Cross Conversion of 480i, 525i, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
- The Pix 240 is HDMI In/Out only
Ant’s Take: From the stats, it seems like the Pix 240 could be a great device for large format shooters and at $1000 less, the Pix 220 model may be a good option for the serious HDSLR crowd since it is a 3-in-1 solution: Video Recorder, Audio Recorder and Monitor. While there were a number of new and less expensive digital video recorders at the show, Sound Devices is a rock-solid brand name that’s synonymous with “quality” and “durability”, which are two features well worth paying for.
3. Sony HXR-NX3D1U 3-D Camera ($3500.00)
The show this year was all about the maturing of 3D. Sony introduced a new cute little compact 3D camera whose LCD screen dos not require glasses. It’s got built-in flash memory (another recent trend), but can also record to SD cards.
• One card slot accepts SD or Memory Stick
• Built-in 96GB flash memory
• 3D Worldcam 50i/60i compatible
• 3D Recording Mode: 50i/60i/24P (28Mbps)
• 2D Recording Mode: 1920×1080/60p, 50p, 60i, 50i, 24p, 25p
• SD Recording Mode: 720×480 60i, 720×576 50i
• Double HD lenses, 10x optical zoom in 3D
• Automatic or manual parallax correction
• Glassless 3.5-inch LCD
• Removable Audio Pod with XLR connectors
• Time Code recording
• 28Mbps AVCHD with AC3/LPCM 3D recording
• Side by Side or Frame Packing output via HDMI
Ant’s Take: 3D is not just a fad, it’s still growing up, but it’s here to stay, like it or not and sooner or later clients are going to start requesting it and only a few people at the indie and freelance level will be in a position to offer it. I think this is the first affordable opportunity for indies to get in on the ground floor of a budding format, learn it and play around with it.
The Go Pro Hero Cam booth consistently had a crowd lined up to check out it’s new products and sign up for a coupon to get a GoPro HeroCam for $100 off (a sweet 33% discount). The two most intriguing advances at the Go Pro Booth were a pop-on LCD screen, the GoPro BacPac, for later generation (last 1.5-2years I think) GoPro HeroCam models. But most intriguing to me was an item that premiered in a demo on the show floor last year, but is actually shipping this year – the GoPro 3D System, which believe it or not was some of the most impressive impressive DIY 3D I saw this year or last! It was crisp and clean and jumped out at you without a lot of fuzzy lines or other funkiness.
- Attaches to 1080p HD HERO cameras featuring the rear HERO Port
- Simple one button design allows for easy on/off and playback control
- Normal speed, fast forward, and fast reverse video and photo playback
- Integrated speaker with volume control
GoPro 3D System
- Mounting System is compatible with all GoPro accessories
- 3D waterproof housing is rated 180’/60m deep
- Record 3D and 2D video and photo files simultaneously
- Includes FREE easy-to-use 3D editing software—GoPro CineForm Studio
Ant’s Take: I think it will still be a few years before we see the first viable indie 3D project that isn’t just gratuitous, but actually works for the storytelling genre. I suspect that horror and action films will be the first narrative forms to pull it off when it happens. But even before then, action sports docs shot in 3D are a no-brainer. And at a total costs of $700 for the whole 3D system (2 Go Pro Hero Cams $600 + 3D Kit $100.00) , I think it’s a no-brainer for cheap entry-level 3D shooting.
Sony has come up with an affordable external monitor aimed at the DSLR crowd with several very practical features – a base that swivels and tilts, a lens hood to shade the screen from the sun and, best of all, peaking.
- 5″ Clip-on LCD monitor
- 800 x 480 pixels
- Tilt/swivel for viewing at any angle
- Color peaking and pixel magnification for precise focus confirmation
Ant’s Take: The monitor image in and of itself isn’t that dramatically better than other offerings on the market. Hell, it’s not even HD it’s 800 x 480 pixels. The ability to tilt and swivel for easy viewing can really come in handy to integrate into tricked out custom DSLR rigs. The lens shade is a nice practical bonus that’ll save you the cost of buying a Hoodman.
Just like 3D, I think DSLR cameras are also here to stay, despite their obvious downsides – most notably for me: audio hassles, need for multiple accessories, and tiny LCD screens, but huge 35mm imaging chips. However, this little LCD monitor has a killer app that solves the last and biggest issue on my list of DSLR grievances – peaking. (If you aren’t familiar with peaking, it’s a camera feature that is to focus, what zebra stripes are to exposure. Peaking super-imposes a posterized colored outline over everything on the LCD screen that’s in clear sharp focus, so even though you are shooting on a full 35mm frame with a tiny-ass monitor, you can still accurately judge focus.) I started using peaking regularly on Sony’s EX1 camera’s in the last year or two and have vowed to never shoot HD again without it, or a very very big monitor at my disposal. I think it’s a killer app for the DSLR crowd. ‘Nuff said.
The LED Lite Panels debuted years ago and quickly became the choice of video freelancers and pros everywhere for their light weight, soft light, cool touch, long-lasting AA battery power and dimmability…so nothing new there. However, they just added one slight twist that I think is worth a new mention on my list – a standard 1/4” screw hole at the bottom of the base, which can also be mounted in a camera’s hotshoe. (It’s also worth mentioning that they also just came out with a hybrid unit that also acts as a flash for still photography.)
- Size: 5.5″ W x 4″ H x 1. 5″ D
- (139mm x 101.6mm x 38.1mm)
- Weight: 10.5 oz (300g)
- Power Draw: 9 Watts
- Six AA batteries (internal)
- 5600°K Daylight Output (cool white)
Ant’s Take: This little addition of a screw mountable base opens up whole new possibilities for this powerful little light unit to be removed from the camera and mounted on a stand that can be placed anywhere. It ain’t just a camera light anymore…now it’s just a cool little versatile all-purpose light.
6. Cam Caddie Tabie iPad Tripod Mount
This new device from a company called Cam Caddie does one simple, but very valuable thing – it allows you to safely mount an iPad to your camera rig to be used as a straight-up full-fledged teleprompter. The iPad offers several excellent telepromter apps, but the real challenge has always been finding a safe and effective way to mount the iPad in a good position for talent to read it.
Ant’s Take: If you follow the Double Down Film Show at all, you know how I feel about teleprompters in general – at $1300.00 for a simple device that is little more than a stripped down word processor with a mirror attached, I think the teleprompter companies have been sticking it to freelancers for decades now. Thanks to the iPad, the tables are turned now, with full-featured teleprompter apps going for $10 or less. Now that you have an easy way to display the iPad screen to talent facing the camera, the playing field is leveled. I’ve tried all kinds of funky solutions to my teleprompter blues and though effective, they were always awkward and a bit of a pain in the ass. But those days are gone now.
…That’s it for now. Check out our the NAB Wrap-Up episode of The Double Down Film Show (HIT THE PLAY BUTTON BELOW) for my full commentary on the hot new products of NAB.
Missed the show? Register for FREE to attend the all-new Virtual NAB starting MAY 12th featuring show panels, talks, product demos, product info and reps from various companies interacting live online. REGISTER FREE HERE.