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posted by - Friday, 24 April 2009

Panasonic 3D CamcorderFrom my perspective, if there were themes to NAB this year, it was 3D and 35PL glass. There were a multitude of 3D rigs on display; some of them quite clever, some rather old school and some, well, shall we say… “logically challenged”.

Then there were a few groundbreaking solutions aimed at the masses. Panasonic showed a concept camera that essentially looked like an HPX170 with binoculars on the front. Affordable HD 3D. Years away from reality, but a sign of things to come. Neat. This camera was a component of a top-to-bottom 3D initiative announced by Panasonic. Here’s the press release.

There were plenty of 3D display systems from other manufacturers as well. Sony showed a very nice 3D LCD panel that attracted quite a crowd.

35PL glass was everywhere. Abel debuted the new Supreme and Rebel lens series from IB/E, along with the new Compact Primes from Zeiss. Cooke announced the return of the Panchro lenses in a new series that resurrected a classic name. Luma Tech had a private suite showing the new Illumina high-speed primes, UniQoptics showed off their primes, and RED had their own unveiling of the RED Pro Primes (as opposed to amateur ones, I guess) at the “show-within-a-show” offsite REDuser event.

Fujinon stepped into the 35PL glass game with a set of four zooms, beginning with a very nice 18-85 T2. And, both Focus Optics and Duclos Lenses showed prototypes of reworked zooms from the stills world (a Nikon 14-24 T2.8 from FO and a Tokina 11-16 T2.8 from DL). I was part of an evaluation session with a few of these new lenses, along with some currently available optics, and I must say that there are interesting attributes to them all and a place for just about every one in the market.

Red NullCertainly what drove the need for new glass was the little camera that could, the RED One. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? With 5000+ units out there, the need for accessories for the R1 was very apparent. Lots of manufacturers were jumping in the game. It seemed that everyone at once realized that RED’s adjustable lens mount needed a device for accurately and simply checking for accurate depth. Such devices used to be the purview of rental houses, but with so many cameras in private hands, a collimator for the masses was sorely missed. UniQoptics, Optitek, Denz and Abel Cine Tech all showed compact and relatively inexpensive devices for calibration of the RED One’s lens mount. Of course, these devices will work on any digital sensor with a PL mount, such as SI-2K, Sony F35 and Arri D21.

I have to say that I’m partial to what appears to be the smallest and simplest device to use, the IB/E RED Null. It’s a hyper-wide fisheye lens that seats in the cameras mount. Just adjust the camera mount until objects in the far distance pop into focus and lock the mount. It’s accurate to 5 microns and so easy a caveman could do it. I’ll demonstrate the process in an independent vlog that I’ll post shortly.DLOB LED Light

There were lots and lots of LED lights all over the show. The LED Storm has pre-programmed effects such as police lights built in. Zylight showed off some new 2’x1′ panels that can adjust to any color of the rainbow. And Dedotek showed their recently released low-cost, high-performance on-camera LED light, the Mini DLOB.

Sony 3.8K MonitorThere were lots of interesting LCD monitors on display as well. Sony had a new 3.8K monitor that was simply stunning. Think four 1920×1080 monitors stacked two on top and two on bottom, but perfectly seamlessly. Currently the only cameras to shoot imagery for this are the RED One and the Phantom 65 (farewell Dalsa), but there are new cameras on the horizon, and 4K scans from film look magnificent.

AJA introduced a real game-changer with the KI recorder. It is a small and inexpensive ($4K) device that records to hard drives or cards directly in ProRes. I called Andy from the show floor to post a blog entry on it ’cause it’s just that neat a gadget.

ASL Gear T-Bag SplashbagOne more cool item was the universal splashbag for professional video and digital cinema cameras, manufactured by ASL Gear. The hilariously-named T-bag (care for a dip anyone?) can fit a variety of cameras from the RED One to a VariCam to an F900R, has a flat or dome front, is collapsible for shipping and is rated for depths down to nine feet. No need for heavy, bulky underwater housings that are custom to each camera model. It even supports cables to reach out to dry land. Very clever.

iPhone PrompterLastly, what’s up with all the teleprompter companies? Did I miss the memo asking for several dozen new models? There were high end and decidedly low end, and some that made me laugh out loud. Anyone care to make a teleprompter out of their iPhone? Sure hope you have great vision.

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