Best Products of NAB 2015 Review - Game Changing Products

NAB 2015 WHATS READY FOR PRIMETIME AND WHAT’S NOT

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME

The hot hardware stories from NAB 2015 all revolve around HDR (High Dynamic Range) broadcasting and TV’s. The catch phrase at NAB this year was, "It's not about more pixels,it's all about better pixels."  Last year at NAB, I was excited about the new 4K sets. How many people do you know who have watched a 4K broadcast on a 4K set (how about 3D)? 4K is still far from being adopted by any major broadcast (CBS) or cable network (HBO).  Netflix, which led the way to 4K recently with House of Cards and Breaking Bad will be streaming another original series.  Warning not all 4k TV’s can stream this, not all cable connections can handle this, not all encoders can encode it and Netflix will be charging more unless you already have their 4k plan.  Click here to see if you and your set are ready.  To their credit Netflix is trying to bring all this content to the viewer in a way that won't clog the pipes of the service providers like ATT and Time Warner.  It is called The Netflix Open Connect Initiative

Sony's New Flagship HDR

What difference does HDR make in your picture? To start with, it demands less than half the speed (bandwidth) of 4K. With HDR you see whiter whites (sometimes blindingly so) and darker blacks and a wider color gamut; which is like a painter that uses 100 colors on his palette instead of 8 -12. Last year at NAB Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman) said he would consider HDR for all his future projects calling it a "cinematographer’s dream".  However cool HDR is, on your camera or iPhone it is not quite the same.  Using  HDR settings on your iPhone can allow you to properly expose dark areas without blowing out whites.  You can radically improve your photos (click here for tutorial).

Marco Polo on Netflix

Netflix will be remastering their series Marco Polo for HDR.  Sony has released a HDR TV (XBR-75X940C) due in mid June for only $7999 and the "budget" XBR-65X930C ($4500) both possibly thinner than your cell phone.  While you are waiting for real 4k broadcasts, the Sony has 4K X-Reality PRO upscaling, which optimizes image quality from your lower resolution video sources. The XBR-75X940C also features Full HD capable active 3D technology, and includes two pairs of 3D glasses. You can also access any apps from the Google Play Store as this is a Android powered TV. 

And let's not forget Samsung, which has released their UN65JS9500FXZA 4K Ultra HD TV.  Like Sony's HDR, this TV makes non_4K and non-HDR (which is what you have now) look better.  In addition it provides access to a number of apps and channels like Hulu, Amazon Prime and games all arrayed (if you wish) on the bottom of your screen like your computer task bar. Samsung's suggested price is $5499.  The Samsung is a curved TV and there are pros and cons here.  On the plus side it is a more immersive experience, the definition on the edges of the TV is better and the contrast is better.  On the negative side, the angle at which you can sit and not experience perspective issues is reducted to 40 degrees.  The larger screens exhibit more pros than cons (angle issues), so it is more expensive and you may have distracting reflections.

Dolby Vision

Vizio is releasing their own reference TV’s later in the year that will be sporting Dolby Vision.  This may be, once it is implemented, what trumps HDRWarner Brothers and Walmart are both going to bet on this horse out of the gate providing titles that include Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Storm, and The Lego Movie and remastering Man of Steel, and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. VUDU, is set to provide content like an online video store but their Hi Def is EXPENSIVE, 20 dollars for Orphan Black!  At those prices I'd rather go to the movie theater.

To be fair, these new sets make everything you view better beyond what you have probably ever experienced, certainly the price may be.  But as far as HDR, Amazon Prime only has a few shows “Bosch,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and “Alpha House and the Golden Globe winning “Transparent”.  

Transparent Series

LG has continued to evolve their OLED TV’s (OLED is the new Hi Def screen the next gen iPhones will probably use) with their flagship Oled HDR due for release possibly in the fall. The OLED technology provides superior blacks but lacks the brightness of the LED sets. LG thinks their OLED experience is better than LED right now. To see the preview of their new HDR set click here.

Amazon and other content creators blame manufacturers for lack of HDR ready sets and the manufacturers are worried about the expensive investment of making new sets without a bigger demand for their product.  I suggest you wait till there is more content, a standard for what can be called HDR and the competition for these new sets heats up and the prices come down.  The non-HDR sets are already being discounted.  It is sort of “If you build it they will come" scenario.” And eventually, I am sure come they will.

READY FOR PRIMETIME

HP DreamColor Best Of Show NAB 2015

The screen that got the biggest award, NAB 2015 Best Computer Monitor of NAB 2015 Award, HP DreamColor Z32x display, is ready for any 4k or UHD you want to edit on it. Earlier this year it received The Scientific and Engineering Award from The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Academy Plaque) for the impact it’s made in film. The Z32x was the monitor used for How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2 and 3 other Oscar contenders at the 2015 Oscars.  With models starting out at under $600, the Dreamcolor series is a steal, and the Z32x comes color calibrated out of the box.  HP now has a 5k monitor the Z27Q for those who have made the leadp to 6 and 8K.  And for those of us who have just come on board, a budget 4k monitor, the Z27S that also comes calibrated.  Until you get your 4K camera you can watch 4K for free on YouTube, just type 4K in the search bar and select 2160p from the settings wheel.  I personally would start with the exceptional 4K Costa Rica video.

FREE SOFTWARE

Talk about a steal, nothing is better than free right?  Avid is releasing a free, scaled down version of the industry standard software Avid Media Composer First and Pro Tools First.  Just click on the first links I have been provided to be notified of the release date.  Though it is a limited version it has many of the basic tools as the big boys, providing newbies a chance to learn the software packages.  The best news of all is that BLACK MAGIC DESIGN is releasing Davinci Resolve 12Now the software that color grades the movies you watch in theaters is a full fledged editing program. Davinci Resolve 12 now allows you  to use even your audio plugins, like RX4 by Izotope, in their native interfaces.  And of course the lite version will be available soon for free.

The Foundry is releasing a free non-watermarked version of their software Nuke.  Some functionality is missing  but it is a welcome improvement over their previous Personal Learning Edition which was also free.  I would be in a big hurry to get Nuke non-commercial (you only pay when you are using it for a paying gig).  There are limitations on export, file handling, third party plugins etc but basic functionality is there and certainly if you need the Nuke Studio you should buy it. It has been reported in the Telegraph that Adobe is getting ready to bid for The Foundry which owns Nuke. If Adobe buys Nuke the chances are it may be modified or obscured by Adobe's Cloud.  If Adobe leaves Nuke alone I will become a true acolyte and praise Adobe till the end of my days. 

Though not full fledged program, Red Giant is releasing a FREE set of plugins (great glows, transitions, blurs and generator plugins) in a free community based platform called Universe.  Constantly being updated by a community of users, working across all major platforms (FCPX, Sony Vegas, After Effects, Premiere MAc and Windows), this is a great deal.  However the best free release is a product that was used just to finish color in all the movies you see.

Apogee-Sennheiser ClipMic

By far the biggest failing of videos shot on the iPhone is the sound.  This is probably true for all handheld cameras.  The limitation on sound recording has been the mic/headphone jack on the iPhone.  While the camera records at HD the mic does not.  Along to the rescue is pairing of two giants of the audio world, Apogee and Sennheiser and a new game changing product that allows you to record true studio quality into your iPhone, ClipMic digitalClipMic digital records at a startlingly high sample rate 96hz and a bit depth of 24 bits which doubles the sample rate of the Zoom iQ7 a well regarded recorder. It does this by bypassing the audio jack, using the “lightening connector” instead, which most people use to charge their phone.

While all iOS devices (iPad,iPhone) are equipped with a built-in analog input and mic pre-amp, they are optimized for telephone calls and not for professional quality audio recording.  As you raise volume on such a device you increase the noise.  Apogee, known for their state of the art interfaces, like the Thunderbolt 2 Symphony 64 | ThunderBridge ($2500-$5000), gives you a truly pro pre-amp, without the noise.  And Sennheiser whose clip mic is part of the package,  is the gold standard when talking about music or film/TV sound.  The companion Apogee MetaRecorder App (free download from App Store) is an IOS app that gives you the ability to create markers for your recordings as well as lists and naming conventions that allow you to take these recordings into a audio or video desktop editing application of your choice like Premiere, Avid Media Composer, Pro Tools, Audition or Final Cut Pro. See screen shots of the app below.  If you want to connect your own mic (that doesn't need phantom power) like a Seinnheiser 421 or 441 then you can use Apogee's JAM 96K click here for tutorial.  For all the guitarists out there, though the JAM interface is pricy for a guitar connection, it is at a level above any other iPhone guitar input.

interface for metarecorder

It is compatible with not only the new iPhone 6 family but also the iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5, iPad Air 2, iPad Air, iPad (4th generation), iPad mini 3, iPad mini 2, iPad mini, iPod touch (5th generation). The best pocket sized interface for your computer or laptop is the new MOTU Microbook II.  Fitting nicely in your shirt pocket this recorder is a pro 96 khz interface with every input an engineer or musician could wish for.  There should be seprate awards at NAB for the best, smallest products.  Certainly the ClipMic digital and Microbook II are worthy contenders. 

If you want to sync the sound to video recorded at the same time you can use Red Giant's Plualeyes 3.5.  With a touch of a single button, PluralEyes analyzes the audio from your cameras and audio devices and syncs them up, in seconds.  You can buy it as part of Red Giant's Shooter Suite, which will also allow you to offload, duplicate, check all your copies, remove video noise and upconvert (resize) your videos to 720p, HD (1080p), 2k or 4k.

Sprout Desktop/Scanner

Sprout, the new interactive desktop/scanner, truly gives new meaning to the word hands on as you can see from the video below taken at NAB’s Showstoppers.  The Sprout derives it's 3D power from a 2gig NVIDIA GeForce GT745A and the Intel HD Graphics 4600.

Two touch surfaces work together, blurring the lines between digital and physical.  It seems to allow someone in a very short time to master the workflow and create not within the limits of the software or hardware but intuitively put together a design or project.

"We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices," said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP.  "People have always created with their hands. Concurrently, technology has progressed from the first transistors, through calculators to today's most sophisticated computing platforms has remained in 2D.”  How the HP 3D printing system will work with the Sprout has yet to be established.  Though the sneak peek of their new  printer I saw was rather large and probably pricy let us hope there is a desktop version under $5000 coming our way.

 

At work I am constantly reminding people not to work off their flash drive at work.  Why, because they are too slow to keep up with processor intensive programs like Photoshop CC, Premiere, After Effects etc..  Even USB3 thumb drives can be achingly slow, USB 2 is worse as slow as 4megs a second topping out at 40 MB/s.  USB3 thumb drives range from 8 MB/s to 50 MB/s and LaCie tried a SSD thumb drive that topped out at 120 MB/s half of it's advertised speed.  So if you are transferring a lot of HD footage you either “have the patience of Jobe” or you need a grown up drive.

Envoy Pro Mini

Premiering at NAB was Other World Computing’s Envoy Pro mini with USB 3.0 which advertises and delivers (I clocked it) 433 MB/s.  Compare this to firewire 8oo drives you Mac users, which top out at 84 MB/s.

OWC Thunderbolt 2 Dock

Many of you have bought the new 2015 MacBook (MacBook Pro has 2 usb ports) are stymied by the fact you only have one input.  Now you can have all the inputs you could ever want with the new Thunderbolt 2 hub with 12 ports from OWC.  By using Thunderbolt 2 you can get up to 20 gigs per second transfer rate.  With Dual Thunderbolt 2 ports you can connect 6 of these together and still not lose speed.  Want to attach NAB award winning HP DreamColor Z32x  display to your desktop or laptop?  This hub has Ultra-HD 4K and multiple display support.

Connect Dreamcolor to your laptop

Need a lot of USB 3 connections?  This hub has five USB 3.0 ports, including two high-powered charging ports for your devices and FireWire 800 for connecting those old firewire drives, which a few years ago were state of the art. 

THE FUN OF IT

Cinematographer Tom Stern (American Sniper, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River) has collaborated with Clint Eastwood for over 30 years and talks about the philosophy the Clint Eastwood brings to the set, namely “Don’t overthink it.” 

NAB always snags the best cinematographers around and then it occurred to me maybe it helps sell all the new cameras that go on display.  The most significant new products and updates to camera lines must be JVC GY LS300 and the 8K Red Weapon.  JVC's new 4K camera, is the most budget conscious way to shoot on a Super 35mm sensor.  Other new offerings pushing 4k envelope this time are  C300 Mark II, Blackmagic: 1080p Micro Cinema Camera and Recorder (great for drones could be a GoPro killer) and updates for the Alexa and The Arri cameras to name a few.  

Arri 4K Photo by Patricia Meisels

As for those of you that already have your camera and want a multitrack recorder and mike built into you DSLR, Tascam has just released the DR70D which will mount above or below your camera.

103,000 people

Should anybody think that NAB is all fun let me remind you that there were 103,000 people occupying over 3 million square feet of convention center footage.  Walking back and forth in each building is a little over a mile.  An executive at CBS who was looking at the newest hardware and software, said nothing could pay him back for the pain and suffering his legs and knees were going through.  And once again this year what happens in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, as a Vegas virus followed me home for a week. Perhaps next year the thing to do, would be to come early or stay an extra couple of days and turn off your computers and TV’s and…

Relax at the Qua Spa at The Nobu Hotel Las Vegas

The Qua Spa

Then Eat Dim Sum Covered in 24kGold at Nobu Restaurant

Nobu Gold Covered Dim Sum Photo by Patricia Meisels

Hike in Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock National Park Photo by Patricia Meisels

And get massaged after your hike

Massage Near Red Rock

And then go to sleep in a real comfy bed and stay there as long as possible.

 

 

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