DCTV at NAB Show 2018

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by Chris Arnold | April 18th, 2018

For those steeped in the tech world, the annual NAB Show—a showcase of ground-breaking technology, innovators, and emerging trends—may seem like a pilgrimage of sorts, with media and entertainment professionals joining Las Vegas' bustling conference scene. Our own Technical Director Chris Arnold wouldn’t miss it for the world. Here, he shares his notes from the field.

While there were no real earth-shattering announcements at this year’s NAB, there are several developments to keep on your radar. First off, Sony has just added a wireless video transmission to their FS5, making this light-weight camera even more versatile. Also relevant for Sony users, newcomer HEDBOX, based in Slovenia, will be offering a powerful D-tap replacement camera battery for FS7/5 users. This unit allows you to run a light or monitor from your camera’s battery. DCTV will be testing this unit as an aid for our run-and-gun shoots.

Speaking of run-and-gun, there's the new HEDÉN and Chrosziel zoom servos for the excellent Fujinon MK Cinema zooms which DCTV productions already use. HEDÉN can also be used with other lenses. We are hoping to try them out with Jon Alpert’s newest lightweight lens of choice, Sony’s SEL165GM.

Panasonic is still focusing on their EVA1 5.7K camera to compete for FS5/7 users. The pictures shown at NAB created by this dual ISO system were impressive, with absolutely no noise in the blacks. Of course, it helped that they were shot by professional DPs in a truly cinematic style. You would think that showing off that quality of footage would be a no-brainer. 10 bit 4:2:2 4K to SD card is also an impressive feature. I will keep my eyes on this one especially since we will now be able to record 5.7K ProRes RAW with the Atomos Shogun Inferno from the SDI RAW output! And shout-out to Canon’s C200 which is also very interesting. Though not appropriate for documentary, it's an affordable choice for indie narrative.

Especially exciting for us was the news that Lectro finally came out with their own body pack recorder (PDR) to compete with Zaxcom’s ZFRs. We were an early adopter of these Zaxcoms. At only $750 each, every documentarian is going to have one in their bag.

With multiple international pavilions, NAB is always a good place to take a peek at tech on the other side of the pond. And every year it seems that the Chinese footprint is growing with many interesting, competitively-priced products. This trend is exciting because it provides affordable alternatives and puts pricing pressure on the big boys. A new disruptor to emerge quietly from this context is Kinefinity. Their small, affordable full frame 6K Mavo LF, 6K S35 ($8,000) and sub-S35 Terra cameras (only $4,000) are not just RED knockoffs. Offering their own intelligent lens mounts, FF primes, built-in wireless video transmission and Movcam compatible lens control, they are trying to give Blackmagic a run for their money. Look out for them.

Finally, on the post side, AVID, Dolby and Blackmagic all had strong showings. Media Composer now supports 6K and 8K editing and is being repackaged as “Media Composer Ultimate” at a lower price point with Script Sync, Phrase Find and Symphony included. Over the past years, AVID has proven its commitment to its editors by making steady improvements to address user feedback and suggestions. The best NLE just keeps getting better.

Blackmagic continues to deliver with Resolve. Fusion is now completely integrated so you can do visual effects right in the app. Fairlight provides everything you need audio-wise, including ADR recordings directly into the timeline. I recommend that all film and video students learn Resolve as it is truly becoming a one-stop-shop at no cost. Dolby Vision also seems to be emerging as the preferred way to simplify the process of creating multiple SDR and HDR deliverables while making sure your film will be seen as you intended at the end of the delivery chain on whatever platform your audience is using. As we move into HDR and 4K blu-ray, we will want to keep an eye out for an affordable version.