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NAB 2006

Mar 5, 2006 12:30 PM, By S. D. Katz, D. W. Leitner, and Dan Ochiva

More for Your Digital Dollar


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Introduction
Digital Intermediate
Cameras & Camcorders
Lenses
Lighting
Telecines & Scanners
Color Correction & Color Management
3D Animation
Graphics Corral
Personal Media Players
Compositing & 2D
Hardware Wars

This year’s NAB Post|Production World Conference will feature more than 200 training sessions covering the latest tools and techniques for video/film editing, special effects, audio/sound editing, web design, 3D animation, and DVD authoring.

What do you go to NAB for?

Of course, the Las Vegas convention traditionally functions as the premiere product launch site for manufacturers large and small.

That's changing. Thomson launched its ambitious Pro AV line at last year's IBC, for example, while Adobe chose January to debut its highly integrated Production Studio suite.

So why NAB? More than just a “what's new?” show, it's becoming the best place to evaluate how well all that new gear fits within today's and tomorrow's working infrastructure. As standards like MXF, AAF, Gigabit Ethernet, and MPEG-4 become our new lingua franca, even the shiniest new gadget needs to prove its place.

Don't worry, though. You'll still see gear launched here that you won't see anywhere else.

At the high end, look for companies like Autodesk to further integrate computer-networking technologies. Autodesk Incinerator uses clusters of computers to bring realtime capabilities to the Discreet Lustre digital color grading system.

Also on tap: the first public showing of the new Maya and MotionBuilder. Autodesk gained both products with its buyout of Alias, which was completed this past January.

After last year's tech demos and whisper suites, you'll finally be able to check out the shipping versions of the latest small HDV camcorders from Canon, JVC, and Sony. The use of the latest in CCD and CMOS technology, combined with innovative storage and built-in networking, will percolate through each company's camcorder lineup from bottom to top.

As the widening market of digital technology commoditizes once-pricey gear, watch for other breakthrough technologies you'll be using soon. Flash RAM in its many varieties, for example, increasingly turns up in capture devices including Thomson's Infinity Digital Media Camcorder, Panasonic's P2 format, and Thomson Viper, which records an uncompressed 4:4:4 data stream to the Venom FlashPak.

Another once-computer-only technology, Internet Protocol, turns up in gear around the floor. One of today's top enabling technologies, IP is being used in camcorders (Thomson's Infinity) and storage (Studio Network Solutions' globalSAN iSCSI) devices, for example. Expect IP connectivity to turn up in monitors, control panels, and other networkable gear.

Quantum's SDLT 600A data tape system, meanwhile, puts both the network and MXF to work. Built around the company's high-volume corporate data tape technology, the 600A combines the accessibility of traditional videotape with the cost-effective performance and reliability of commodity data tape drives. With a built-in Gigabit Ethernet capability, this archival device might end sneakernet forever.

The trend towards connectivity — or, in this case, interconnectivity — turns up in production suites from Adobe, Apple, and Avid, too. At press time, Adobe has moved most aggressively to create synergy among its Production Studio programs; you can, for example, create a composite in After Effects and have it update automatically in Premiere Pro's timeline.

Want to stay up to date on these and all the other tech introductions, buy-outs, and other developments to unfold over the course of the NAB convention? Be sure to visit digitalcontentproducer.com April 22-27, when we'll be blogging from the show floor.


Year of the Podcasters

The New Oxford American Dictionary's 2005 word of the year? “Podcasting.”

Then there's the video iPod, which, in a matter of months, has mounted a genuine — if nascent — challenge to the very bedrock of broadcast TV: advertiser support. Suddenly, the public becomes fascinated by handheld portable video players like the Sony PSP and new 3.5 Generation cell phones with mobile video reception. Over on the Web, streaming video seems to be popping up everywhere. (What is a laptop computer, after all, but a portable HD display waiting for a low-cost ATSC tuner?)

What these developments share, besides the marketing prowess of Apple, is the following:

  1. They empower non-publishers and non-broadcasters to do just that.
  2. They empower viewers to watch whatever they want, whenever they want — even skip the ads.
  3. They are the vanguard of compressed, packetized, file-based marketplace media, equally diffused via phone lines, cable, LAN, WiFi, cellular phone, or DVB (digital video broadcast).
Did I mention low-cost?

The technologies underlying these innovations, including metadata standards, have been in the works for years. Their sudden arrival is evolutionary, a gathering confluence of advances in processing, storage, memory, compression, transmission, design, materials, and manufacturing. Even though NAB is a professional tradeshow (B is for Broadcasters, last time I checked), these powerful consumer technology trends are the show's looming backdrop. Sure, we've seen widescreen HD displays at NAB for years, but now the public is gobbling ‘em up and it's urgent we find ways to fill ‘em, and fast. Same for those itty-bitty screens.

Oh, the places we'll go at this year's NAB!
— D.W. Leitner


What: Ciprico MediaVault 4105, 4210, and 4110 storage arrays

Why: New “daisy chain” version allows straightforward expandability of 4Gbps Fibre Channel storage without the need for a switch. New versions of MediaVault 4210 and 4110 arrays will offer removable controllers and support for an 8+2 RAID6 configuration.

What: ScheduAll modules

Why: This production and operations management software gains new modules including Media Connection Services (bidirectional API access for third-party development); Microsoft Outlook and Exchange Interface; and ScheduAll for the Web (provides API Interface and .NET support).

What: Videotek VTM series

Why: Debut of a fully customizable, multi-format test and measurement console. Users can pick and choose from a list of video and audio options to create their ideal test instrument for any specific purpose.

What: Hamlet Flexiscope

Why: One of the leaders in the move toward creating potent but portable test gear, Hamlet pulls it all together in the handheld Flexiscope. The multi-format, multi-standard device sports a 3.5in. diagonal screen and includes a waveform, vector, audio, and picture monitor.

What: Atto FastStream 5300

Why: External device integrates into existing SCSI storage and adds data protection and storage networking. The FastStream 5300 includes two 4Gbps Fibre Channel host interface ports and two Ultra320 SCSI drive interfaces, and can be configured as JBOD or RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.

What: Bright Systems BrightDrive

Why: Debut of family of high-performance shared-media solutions across Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks. Arrays include BrightDrive Data Management Suite (Data Mover, Data Optimizer and Data Wrangler), as well as secure, remote distributed system diagnostics.

What: Focus Enhancements FireStore FS-4Pro HD and DR-HD100

Why: Camcorder drives now offer native QuickTime HDV support. Files can be used immediately in Apple Final Cut Pro 5 without having to first capture or convert footage.

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