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POST PICKS: Top Products from NAB 2014

April 14, 2014
POST PICKS: Top Products from NAB 2014
LAS VEGAS — Post Magazine’s writers and contributors, along with a range of industry professionals, recently attended the 2014 NAB Show in Las Vegas, spending several days walking the show floor in search of the latest and most innovative new product announcements and technologies. After meeting and comparing notes with our team of post production professionals, we are proud to announce a list of products and technologies that were agreed to have shown innovation, as well as captured the considerable attention and interest at the early April event. The following are our “Post Picks” for NAB 2014. We’ve also included several Honorable Mentions that caught our team’s attention.

WINNERS

AJA’S CION PRODUCTION CAMERA

Grass Valley, CA’s AJA Video Systems (www.aja.com) introduced CION at NAB, a new production camera that’s capable of shooting at 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD resolutions. The CION offer in-camera recording in the Apple ProRes family of codecs, including 12-bit 444, and the ability to output 4K raw data at up to 120fps via four 3G-SDI outputs. CION can record directly to AJA Pak SSD media at up to 60fps.  



According to AJA president Nick Rashby, the CION has been in development for several years. It embraces a familiar and tested camera form and ergonomic layout. A built-in shoulder mount and standard connectors are located where camera operators would traditionally expect them to be. CION features a PL lens mount for compatibility with industry-standard lenses. When recording in HD or 2K, the image is oversampled from the full 4K sensor, retaining focal length as well as providing a vibrant and detailed image. A built-in filter combines an optical low pass filter (OLPF) to eliminate unwanted aliasing and moiré with an infrared (IR) cut filter to produce appropriate colors. Additionally, a back focus adjustment means the sharpest image possible can be produced.

Recording formats and resolutions that CION can record to include Apple ProRes 4444, Apple ProRes 422 (HQ), Apple ProRes 422, ProRes 422 (LT) and Apple ProRes (Proxy); 4K (4096x2160), Ultra HD (3840x2160), 2K (2048x1080), HD (1920x1080). 2K and HD are hardware scaled from the full 4K sensor for high-quality over-sampled images and retention of field-of-view.

Footage is recorded to AJA Pak SSD media, which is available in 256GB and 512GB capacities. Transfer can take place via Thunderbolt or USB3 with the optional AJA Pak Dock. User can output Raw footage via 3G-SDI at up to 4K 120fps, or via Thunderbolt at up to 4K 30 fps.
AJA plans to deliver CION this summer for $8,995.


DOLBY’S DOLBY VISION TECHNOLOGY

At NAB, Dolby debuted a prototype 32-inch Dolby Vision monitor with a light measurement of 2000 nits. The prototype made use of quantum dots technology with blue LED local dimming for energy efficiency. It’s aimed at on-set use. 
 
Dolby Vision augments the video fidelity of Ultra HD and HD video signals used in OTT online streaming, broadcast and gaming applications by maintaining and reproducing the dynamic range and color gamut of the original signal as captured. For creatives, it goes beyond the constraints of legacy CRT technology to deliver true-to-life brightness, colors, and contrast to TVs. 

At the NAB Show, FilmLight (www.filmlight.ltd.uk) presented high dynamic range mastering and grading, by featuring Dolby Vision technology on its Baselight color grading system. Baselight colorists can now create high-quality grades with the confidence of knowing their work will be carried faithfully all the way to the viewer. 


SONY’S ALPHA 7S 4K CAMERA

Sony has added a new model to its family of small, full-frame interchangeable lens cameras. The new Alpha 7S joins the A7 and A7R, and is capable of capturing 4K video quality with low noise.

The new A7S features a newly developed 12.2 effective megapixel 35mm Exmor CMOS sensor paired with a BIONZ X image processor, allowing it to shoot at a sensitivity range of ISO 50 – 4096002 with high dynamic range and low noise. The new model also uses the entire width of a full-frame image sensor in 4K video acquisition, and does this without cropping or line skipping. 



The A7S also offers full pixel read-out (without pixel binning) during movie shooting. The camera can process data from all of the sensor’s pixels and output HD and 4K (QFHD 3840 x 2160 pixels) video while using the full-width of the sensor. In addition to the benefits for low-light shooting, the read out of all pixels frees the video from aliasing, moiré and false color artifacts.

4K video can be output to an external third-party recorder. Full HD (1920×1080) at frame rates of 60p, 60i, 30p and 24p can be captured directly to a compatible memory card. Video modes can be changed from full-frame to APS-C (super 35mm equivalent) if desired, and in this crop mode, the camera can support high frame rate 120fps shooting at standard HD resolution (1280 x 720p), creating a 5x slow-motion effect.

The A7S camera is also equipped with S-Log2 gamma. Common to Sony’s range of professional video cameras, S-Log2 expands the dynamic range by up to 1300 percent to minimize clipped highlights and loss of detail in shadows. Additionally, the A7S adopts the workflow-friendly XAVC S recording format in addition to AVCHD and MP4 codecs.  

The camera also has a multi-terminal interface shoe that is compatible with Sony’s XLR Adaptor Microphone Kits, allowing the use of professional microphone systems. Compatible with the growing family of E-mount lenses, the A7S camera can also be used with A-mount and others lens systems with optional adapters. 


BLACKMAGIC DESIGN’S URSA 4K CAMERA

Blackmagic Design (www.blackmagicdesign.com) announced its high-end URSA digital film camera at NAB, which is designed specifically to for large film crews as well as single person use. URSA has multiple accessories built in, including a 10-inch fold-out monitor, a large user upgradable Super 35 global shutter 4K image sensor, and internal dual RAW and Apple ProRes recorders.



Because the sensor and lens mount assembly can be changed, customers can choose EF or PL lens mounts, or even a broadcast video sensor with B4 mount, then upgrade the camera in the future. Applications include high-end feature films, commercials, episodic television production, documentaries, electronic news gathering, music videos and more. When used on jobs with a large crew, users can dress the camera with high quality cinema lenses, rails, follow focus, matte boxes and more. With built-in scopes for exposure, focus and audio levels, built-in dual recorders and the large 10-inch fold out on set monitor, users can dramatically reduce on set equipment because it’s all built into the camera.

Since it’s a larger professional size, URSA has the space for cooling that allows higher frame rates while keeping the chassis cool and the fan quiet. Each area of the camera has been divided into separate DOP, camera assistant and audio engineer workstations. The DOP station features the on-set monitor as well as separate five-inch screen for settings, camera status and scopes. The camera assist station features a separate screen for camera settings, status and scopes and an audio station features audio meters, controls and audio connections.

Blackmagic URSA features a 4K sensor, global shutter and 12 stops of dynamic range. The Blackmagic URSA EF model will be available in June/July and retail for $5,995.


THE FOUNDRY’S NUKE STUDIO

UK-based The Foundry (www.thefoundry.co.uk) previewed Nuke Studio at NAB, a flexible and simple-to-use application that spans VFX, editorial and finishing. Nuke Studio draws on the company's existing compositing, conforming and shot management technology, while also adding a host of new features and functionality. The company says it has taken the best of its Nuke X compositing application, and merged it with its Hiero timeline, shot management and review capabilities. The result is a combination of node-based VFX, editorial and finishing tools that can be used by individuals or in a collaborative team environment.



Nuke Studio sits at the top of The Foundry’s Nuke range, and the company will continue to offer both Nuke and Nuke X. Numerous pros commented on Nuke Studio's ability to work with high fidelity imagery, as well as its ability to quickly select different versions of material and quickly add it to the timeline. The Foundry hopes to deliver Nuke Studio later this year.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

Sonnet Technologies (www.sonnettech.com) unveiled the xMac Pro Server Thunderbolt 2-to-PCI Express expansion system and 4U rackmount enclosure for new Mac Pro computers; Rohde & Schwarz DVS (www.dvs.de) introduced SpycerBox Cell, its new, scalable storage solution that measures 1U high and features 30 SSD, SAS or SATA hard drives mounted on a tray-based carrier system, which can be hot-swapped during operation; Blackmagic Design (www.blackmagicdesign.com) made several key announcements at this year’s NAB, which included its DaVinci Resolve 11 upgrade with more than 100 new editing and color grading features, as well as the new model of its Cintel Film Scanner that thin enough to be wall mounted and will scan negative and positive 35mm film into Ultra HD so customers can unlock the extra resolution from 35mm film (natively 4K). Finally, marking a 100 million EF lenses milestone, Canon U.S.A. (www.usa.canon.com) introduced its new Cine-Servo 17-120mm T2.95 zoom lens to address shallow, creative depth of field, high-resolution and optimal low-light shooting capabilities for ENG, documentary, narrative production and special event coverage applications.


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