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NAB2015: Preview

Last year’s NAB was a major launch pad for new cameras from unexpected places.

This year promises a return to normality, with Canon expected to be leading the charge by shaking up its range, lining up a replacement for the C300 with a possible 4K upgrade.

Shooting Partners head of facilities Shaun Wilton, for one, has a clear priority at NAB.

“Day 1, 30 seconds after doors open I will be heading for the Canon stand. I think it’ll be a huge show for Canon, as IBC was for Sony with the FS7. ”

“Everyone is anticipating a new C300,” says Wilton who confesses: “I have a lot of respect for Canon which has not released a new camera every NAB, rendering what went before obsolete.

”Hopefully one trend we will see will be a move away from big manufacturers launching completely new cameras every year.

“It’s the sort of thing that drives everybody mad,” says Wilton. “You get used to a camera and build up accessories. And then guess what? There’s a new one. It’s something that has happened a lot in the past.”

Trend for updates

Another trend hire companies and owners will like is the move towards manufacturers launching significant upgrades to existing products though firmware updates.

Cameras from manufacturers such as Arri, Red and Blackmagic are built around flexible architectures that allow for upgrades that can add significant functionality through software updates.

Likewise we will see more cameras offering ProRes and DNxHD recording in-camera and a wider range of codecs.

For manufacturers caught up in the 4K hype it’s worth remembering that for many, less is more.

Says Wilton: “What impressed me about a visit to Arri was we were able to talk to them about introducing a 50Mb/s data rate.

"Our clients are saying we want to shoot on the Amira but the CFast cards are all ProRes, 100Mb/s codec with twice the amount of data we want and twice the storage cost in post.

"The fact that Arri has added a 50Mb/s ProRes setting for the Amira is a smart move – it doesn’t always have to be about a new camera, rather an update where you can offer Ultra HD as a chargeable upgrade.”

Arri’s decision to embrace the world of UHD with the launch of a new Alexa SXT (Super Xtended Technology) camera will be exciting a lot of interest.

In the spirit of the new world of upgradability, existing Alexa XT, XT Plus and XT Studio cameras will be able to upgrade to 4K with an SXR (Super Xtended Recording) update.

Mini cams

The recently-launched Alexa Mini will be on show too, pushing the Alexa range into new areas where cameras such as GoPro have cornered the market.

Recent launches from Codex (Action Cam) underline that the mini cam market, once seen as a specialist area, is now being seen as a significant opportunity for a much wider range of companies.

Aframe ceo David Peto says: “Arri’s new Alexa Mini shows a trend from the professional manufacturers to try to see off the likes of GoPro - just like they responded to the threat of the DSLRS a few years ago.”

At Red Jarred Land has been teasing the market pre-NAB with social media about a new camera body upgrade in the shape of the Weapon camera – a paid upgrade to be announced at the market aimed at Dragon owners, plus there could be more on a new, improved Red sensor.

4K and IP

Aframe ceo David Peto expects 4K to continue as a dominant theme.

“4K codecs such as Sony’s XAVC and the brilliant FS7 camera will hopefully see 4K going mainstream,” he says.

4K will obviously be a core subject at this year’s NAB, confirms Petter Ole Jakobsen, chief technology officer, Vizrt.

“Together with the more general discussion on the change towards a more flexible IP-based infrastructure, there’ll be talk about the possibilities of new ways of designing a 4K workflow.

"What does 4K mean for the way we work going forward? How does it affect how we define a studio?

"4K has thrown up a lot of questions in recent times but we – as an industry – are now closer to the point where we can begin to answer them.”

Jon Folland at media logistics company Nativ adds: “I’ll be taking a close look at 4K and MPEG-DASH adaptive streaming technology implementations.

"And I’ll be seeing if broadcasters are ready to exploit these new UHD standards and whether the very crowded streaming format ecosystem shows any signs of consolidating.”

Not if, but when

Sony will be focusing on IP based technology year, a subject we will be hearing a lot about, confirms Vizrt CTO Petter Ole Jakobsen.

“It’s no longer a case of if we switch to IP-based infrastructures, it’s when. It will also lead to more experiments in 4K productions led by IP.”

For EVS svp marketing Nicolas Bourdon the future is about adding value to content. “This ties in with the broadcasters’ ability to enrich programs with relevant information such as graphics, stats, audio and VR.

"These visual enrichments offer more compelling stories for viewers. You can take the EVS FanZone as an example.

"The solutions we have here are no longer just theoretical ideas or flights of fancy. They’re real world applications which enable consumers to watch live sports and entertainment in new ways.”

Future of editing Avid has been tweaking its focus in recent months, turning its attention to a new ‘untapped’ independent creative user and developing more subscription-based and free versions of its software to appeal to them.

Ceo Louis Hernandez Jr said in a recent conference call to analysts that the company had traditionally focused on “top tier” clients (broadcasters and post houses) but has indentified a new and largely untapped market of independent professionals and enthusiasts.

“We will be launching a series of new products, including subscription and cloud offerings. This is a new area of focus that has already brought us thousands of new customers and opens the door to an almost $2 billion market not previously targeted,” he said.

In terms of its more traditional customer base, Avid is launching a new asset management product, but it’ll be one of many, with CAT DV promising a $1m MAM which costs nothing like $1m.


Malcolm Cowan, head of technology at Timeline Television on playout and post

At NAB we’ll be looking at play out and scheduling systems as well as the latest developments in UHD technologies.

Despite the lack of clear standards for UHD there is an increasing appetite from some of our clients to look at how it may be deployed.

We will also be looking at MAM and how we can get the best solutions by combining approaches from different vendors to meet demand.

The options around tiered storage and use of the cloud make this a very interesting sector at the moment.

We have a reputation in innovative post and fast turnaround sports worklows and will be delving into the world of post again, exploring new options with companies such as EVS, Avid and Adobe.

We are also very keen to explore the latest developments with IP technology. Undoubtedly the future will be IP based and will be key to some of our client’s future expectations and needs.

Currently a hybrid of IP and 3G SDI is an interesting approach, which we are looking to deploy in our expanding OB fleet.

As an upload parter to Aframe, we are also very interested to see their new edit solution they are planning to unveil.


Duncan Payne, sales manager at WTS


4K for live production is going to be a key focus for WTS this NAB. The camera technology has been around for a little while with Grass Valley already showing a 4K 2/3 inch camera channel and Sony presumably poised to do likewise.

The transition from quad HD over copper to a fibre infrastructure is certainly a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

IP-wrapped SDI – compressed or uncompressed – offers many benefits, or will do once the technology has caught up with the dream. One issue is that there is not one flavour of fibre protocol.

Interoperability (the ability to use different manufacturers’ kit along the chain) is key in any workflow, and there is currently no standard, which will make any production manager nervous.

Red’s broadcast module is also high on our list and I’m sure there will be developments there; an HD camera channel that can also do 4K and record 6K on-board is directly relevant to our market.

I predict lens technology will be exciting with more advances from the main players.

The Canon 50-1000mm PL mount lens is a beast, and a life-saver for a cameraman wanting tight shots of polar bears (as long as there is light, a really steady tripod… and a co-operative bear!


Laurent Fanichet, product marketing manager, scaleout storage EMEA at Quantum on n the cloud, 4K and storage


At NAB this year we’re going to be hearing a lot about the use of the cloud as an integral part of the workflow as it begins to be used for functions beyond archiving – delivery in particular.

This year we’re going to see more concrete workflow solutions for content producers and broadcasters to begin not only moving storage to the cloud but innovating new ways of using it across the entire production process.

It’s been a similar story with 4K. While everyone has spent the last few shows talking about how much they enjoy seeing it, the practicalities haven’t really been addressed.

This year we’ll see more people planning the reality of 4K. We are seeing more media owners come to us to discuss storage solutions that will let them work with 4K content efficiently and without interruption.

We’re also expecting to see more demand around storage for the small to medium sized content producers.

As more and more production facilities are becoming active, there is space for the smaller operations to thrive. This will create more and more requests for a scalable storage solution that allows businesses to pay as they grow.

Posted 11 April 2015 by David Wood
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