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posted by - Friday, 13 April 2012

With NAB around the corner, there are several trends that have become apparent in our industry. Instead of focusing on specific products, we can observe the technological direction of manufacturers, which can help us extrapolate a roadmap for the future.

Beyond HD Becomes Real

In recent years, there have been several cameras available that were capable of capturing resolutions greater than HD’s 1920×1080, but very few clients ever used these higher resolutions for their finished product. This year, we’ll certainly see more cameras capable of higher resolution capture. Perhaps more importantly, there will be post systems, displays and delivery pipelines debuting at this year’s show that can begin to make greater-than-1080p deliverables a reality. A large scale movement to 4K won’t happen overnight, but the road ahead is becoming established.

High End For The Masses

While higher resolution will be a hot topic this year, there will still be plenty of activity for top quality HD. Perhaps most exciting is the move to bring the versatility and performance of the high end cameras into mass market level products. LOG capture, with its vast dynamic range, can now be found in wider range of cameras than ever before. Better compression formats in both camera and camera-mounted recorders allow for less loss in the data. These are acknowledgements that such cameras are real production machines. Video need not only be for point & shoot news gathering. Instead, the camera can be a step in a production pipeline, which includes color correction in post for greater creative image control.

Five NABs ago, when AbelCine helped Vision Research introduce the Phantom HD to the market, high-speed was for the rarified few who could afford the enormous production costs of shooting on a Photosonics 35mm film camera. NAB 2012 sees the introduction of several cameras with slow motion capabilities, at more attractive price points than ever, allowing access for all types of productions.

Lensmakers Are Listening

The sudden shift to Super-35 sensor cameras last year put a great deal of pressure on all the optical manufacturers, whose stringent design and manufacturing requirements can sometimes make their response time appear glacial compared to the rest of our industry. But the big manufacturers have actually responded quickly, stepping up to the plate this year with new lenses and all-new designs that directly address the changing needs of our industry. When 35PL cameras were all film-based, the types of productions that were shooting with these lenses were different than what we have today. Now, productions that are used to the size and functionality of 2/3″ format zoom lenses want the same usability in 35PL. New products from Angenieux, Canon, Fuji and Zeiss will show smaller, lighter zoom lenses with the utility of ENG-style lenses.

Mini-Recorders Continue To Up Their Game

This was a product category that simply didn’t exist a couple of years ago, but is now full of options. This NAB, look for several new models with greater capabilities, smaller form factors and capturing in formats that flow directly into post. Say goodbye to the “closed loops” of the past. Cameras are no longer locked to their recording formats and clients can match capabilities to their needs.

Lighting: The Next Generation

What was hinted at last year in prototype and concept form is now available in proper production models. Remote Phosphor Technology (RPT) separates the material that glows light from the LED emitter that excites them. The result is a single soft source of light with more color accuracy and great efficiency.

If Remote Phosphor is LED 2.0, then the next step past HMI lighting is Plasma. A plasma lamp takes a tiny glass bulb filled with gas and blasts it with microwaves, irradiating it until the gas changes state to a plasma. This causes it to release a brilliant light, which is continuous in color and without any flicker or other artifacts. The power efficiency is beyond anything else currently available for production. Several models of both technologies, from multiple manufacturers, will be shown as production units at the show.

The Socialization Of Media

Webcasting and file sharing have been a part of the internet world for some time. Dedicated systems for corporate and educational use allowed portal-to-portal communication, while the streaming content abilities of the average smartphone have led to a “the whole world is watching” level of connectivity for the masses. New forms of production and workflow are becoming available to clients as the tools drop in size and cost, while rising in functionality. Non-traditional venues such as small music clubs are now installing multicamera switched systems to record events, which are then encoded and streamed live. Production and post-production integration systems are using the Cloud to distribute information, share files, and even act as content file server systems for entire productions. Expect to see numerous ways active and interactive web-based systems can be used to ease your work and expand your reach.

For a deeper look into the new technology unveiled at this year’s NAB show, keep your eye out for more product announcements and exclusive videos right here on CineTechnica.

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