Flamingos at the Flamingo of course....
Well another year has come and gone at the National Association of Broadcasters and here's some of the things I saw this year. Wasn't able to get around as much since I was working all day Mon / Tues in the Small Tree Booth but still saw some good stuff.
4k, Storage and Data Management
Literally everything was 4k all over the place and we're expected to be shooting and editing in this format as quickly as possible. It's obvious that very few folks in production actually have a handle on how we're all supposed to store and manage all this data. Shooting 4k is easy, figuring a way to safely store that data seems to be anyone's guess. Moving forward, everyone should FIRST be considering their infrastructure and especially their storage and archive solutions.
Small Tree Communications Titanium Z series.
Your main online storage solution, whether it's shared or stand-alone, had better be scaleable.
This way you can have enough storage for today and then very easily add more as your needs increase with these larger data sizes. One reason I run the Small Tree Communications
storage and their 5, 8 and 16 bay Titanium units were awesome additions this year. All are scaleable both in speed (via 1gig and 10gig ports) along with easy upgrade to add more storage as needed without disrupting the workflow. The portable Titanium 5 is perfect for field productions with up to 20TB (15TB useable in RAID 5) for field shoots to ingest large amounts of data while allowing multiple artists to access and log the material. The 8 and 16 bay Titaniums can be expanded by simply adding another chassis giving you more storage space.
G-Tech EV series
was showing off their new EV Lineup that is a clever take on combining a rugged drive and a RAID. Basically small rugged drives that run between 125 and 256 MB/s with USB 3 connections on the units. The units can run stand-alone via USB 3 or inserted into a Thunderbolt chassis. The chassis supports both versions of the drives, this is significant since the faster drive is thicker. The two drives can also run as a RAID even outside of the chassis connected directly via USB 3. Neat concept for managing lots and lots of data in the field and even back at the shop.
AJA Video Systems
introduced the Ki Pro Quad with the promise of "manageable 4k." In their presentation at the Media Motion Ball, AJA noted that raw, uncompressed 4k is 48GB/min. Per MINUTE! Using something like the Ki Pro Quad, we can record in ProRes knocking that data rate all the way back down to 9GB/min. So you can record native RAW if you want to for archival purposes or maybe for finishing but also record ProRes (the various flavors thereof) for your primary edit. Or just forego the RAW altogether and go start to finish in ProRes. The system even includes a RAW pass through so you can record ProRes in the Ki Pro and RAW to another recorder and 4k to HD scaling for HD monitoring. By the way, the unit also records in HD and 2k so if you are planning to go 4k in the future, but need a solid state recorder now, you'll be set for your move.
Multiple folks recommended I check out Axle Asset Management
and I have to say it looks intriguing not only as an asset management tool for projects in progress, but also as a client review tool that might be easier for us to use. Instead of uploading our cuts for clients to review, this tool will allow clients to simply log into our servers to review and leave comments on our cuts. They can also look at any and all projects / raw footage we give them access to. Really sounds intriguing and I'm planning to set up a demo with them in the near future to try it out for real. Again, this is asset management for current projects primarily, it's not made for long term, archive asset management at this time.
Thanks to Richard Harrington I was re-introduced to Drobo
and their current concept of "online archive." Essentially keeping as much archived material as we think we need to have easy access to on systems that allow us to edit on directly. The concept is that once a project is finished, we push it off our main online storage system to the Drobo to archive. When a client calls in with a change, revision, whatever, we don't have to push the project back to our main online storage system, we can simply edit directly from the Drobo because they're now fast enough to support editing directly from the boxes. I'm hoping to get a unit in the shop to test out in the near future.
This is where I'll be spending the most time and effort for the next year really working on both our project based online storage and the most cost effective and easily accessible long term archive storage. And of course, a digital asset management system that can help us manage our ever expanding library. We are all going to have to take a serious look at our storage solutions and management as we enter the world of 4k and beyond. More than ever, Post Production professionals are going to be data management professionals.
nVidia: Adding speed for collaboration and older computers.
nVidia introduced me to their Visual Computing Appliance. Essentially a rack mount box with a Windows 7 computer, lots of nVidia GPUs (I believe they told me 16) that allows the end user to virtually run pretty much any Windows based software on any computer OS. They were showing Autodesk 3DS Max running on a MacBook Pro and Adobe Photoshop running on a Linux laptop. You run the software via the box and that allows you to tap into the GPU power that's in the box. So your MacBook Pro suddenly has the speed of up to 16 GPUs for example or you can allocate out the GPUs per user.
nVidia Visual Computing Appliance
The big thing for me is this breathes new life into older machines that have gone past their normal usefulness. Because the box is doing the heavy lifting, older machines, such as my original Mac Pro 1,1 could potentially be used with Adobe CS Next in a very fast and efficient manner. Or if I want to add new computers, I could get very basic computers with no bells and whistles since the nVidia is going to add a ton of virtual computing power. Very interesting concept and I'll be talking to nVidia further in the near future. We're also hoping to get them down to the Atlanta Cutters at some point to further explain the system.
Flanders Scientific, droolworthy
FSI unveiled their CM lineup including the absolutely beautiful 32" model. Writing words on this page will not do this monitor justice, you really need to see it in person. And as I have written in the past, the Flanders team is one of the best in the business not only in designing the products, but servicing it after the sale. They're also some of the most awesome people in this industry who bring delicious donuts to the show floor each morning.
Bram and Johan Desmet next to the gorgeous new 32" CM series.
Simply put, if you need a new monitor for your edit suite, machine room, on-set or anything else to do with film or video production, get a Flanders.
: All I'm really going to say about Adobe is that the presentation stage for Adobe was packed at all times. Tough to find a seat, seems CS Next is being well received as is the Creative Cloud concept. I was given an advance look at the software before NAB opened and they've done a great job of listening to the needs of the professional editing community to support our workflows today while moving the product and our workflows to the future. Almost all of our "checklist items" were addressed as I mentioned in my "pre-NAB" show blog. Will discuss the Adobe Anywhere in a separate blog after we do some internal testing on that. We'll have the Adobe team showing off Next at the May Atlanta Cutters meeting so mark your calendars if you'd like to join us.
Adobe's "Sir" Al Mooney, the man who heads up the Premiere Pro team.
: Not nearly as big a splash as last year's Smoke 2013 debut, but still a solid showing this year with some updates to the product line and I can say that Autodesk is reaching out to editors to move the product line forward. Was able to meet with the Autodesk team for a bit this week and I can honestly say the team is listening loud and clear to the editing community.
Autodesk's Marc-Andre Ferguson
Had a nice announcement with newly improved AMA and workflow for better native editing support with Media Composer 7. Something our facility had been looking for back when we jumped to Media Composer / Symphony 6. They also eliminated the Symphony product as a stand-alone, over priced product and now it's simply an option for Media Composer. I personally did not get up to the booth other than to do a PostChat taping so I really don't know much more than this unfortunately. Folks I met who edit on Avid were very excited about the updates.
Yep, they introduced the "online editor" concept at the show. The concept and design is not so much to edit an entire project, though I have to admit you probably can, but to tackle the problem of "the edit is never done." I run into this all the time where after the color grade has been completed, there are changes to the edit. Instead of having to make the changes in Premiere Pro and re-send the files or the project to Resolve, we could literally make the editorial changes inside Resolve. In the demo, a Final Cut Pro XML was imported to Resolve and all of the video tracks, transitions and audio tracks came into Resolve intact and ready to either tweak the edit or grade. Additionally, Resolve 10 adds Open FX support and they were showing Sapphire plug-ins in use in the booth. I would expect to see Boris, Red Giant and others come on board with their plug-ins over time. While really a 1.0 release, the editor looks very stout with all of the basic features we would expect in an NLE. Oh and the trim tools are just crazy good as is the optical flow for incredibly smooth slo-mo.
Adding a Sapphire Lens Flare in Resolve 10's Editor.
Honestly have no idea if they were at the show which is kind of odd considering their new "push to win back professional editors." If they were here, they didn't seem to want us to know about it. But I did meet some folks who are really happy with the X workflow and are cutting projects on it.
Pond 5 Premiere Pro Plug-In
Had no idea this concept existed. Basically Pond 5 has created a plug-in that allows you to open up their stock footage library via a media browser window inside Premiere Pro. So instead of perusing the Pond 5 website, downloading sample proxy files, moving them to your media array, importing to the project and then inserting into the timeline, you can literally drag and drop from the Pond 5 browser into your timeline. Once you complete the edit, purchase the full resolution version of the proxy files to complete your project. Love the simplicity of how this works and we'll be downloading that plug-in for all our workstations.
So I already talked about Resolve but like last year, Blackmagic stole the show buzz with a new camera. The Pocket Camera for just $999. We all pretty much expected the jump to 4k but most were surprised by "mini me." The constant refrain I heard for three days was "have you seen the little camera?" It was rather brilliant sitting on display with a massive Arri lens on the front. What I appreciated was the weight of the camera, it's not a cheap plastic body alá point and shoot cameras. At that price point, I will definitely be adding at least one of these to my toolbox. How can you not? Super 16 quality in a ridiculously small form factor. It's just like having a GoPro or two in your bag but with a LOT more versatility. It's even more discreet in public locations than a DSLR or the Cinema Camera. I can't wait to put this thing up on a remote helicopter.
Grant Petty and I at our annual chat. One of the highlights of each NAB for me.
Speaking of the small form factor, I had my yearly chat with Grant Petty in the BMD booth and he told me the story of how the Pocket Camera came to be. He was on vacation with the family and had taken the Cinema Camera along to play with. At one point he asked his wife if he could put it into a bag and she told him, "No, that camera is too heavy." So Grant had to carry the camera around during the trip. So that got him to wondering just how small could they take the technology? The end result, the Pocket Camera. I absolutely love stories like this because there's no focus groups, costly studies and projections or anything like that. Just, "gee I'd really love to have the quality of what we have in a smaller form so I can take it on trips with my family AND use it in production." It's been fun to watch the evolution of the company over these past few years as they are now taking us truly from start to finish across their product line.
Minty fresh Avid and Adobe project sharing
Sharing Avid projects with multiple editors cutting the same project in the past required either Avid solutions or the use of FlavorSys Strawberry. Strawberry is really an enterprise level solution way beyond the reach of smaller shops.
Mint on display at the Small Tree Communications booth.
FlavorSys introduced Mint at NAB and I got to see it up close and personal in the Small Tree booth. Designed for smaller shops like mine, this allows multiple editors to work on the exact same project at the same time. You launch the projects from the Mint interface and it essentially tracks what the editors are up to and syncs their work together in the project.
Here's the cool part, it also works on Adobe Premiere Pro projects. Just the project itself. This is something I plan to try as soon as I get back to the offices.
I am truly humbled by all the folks who thank me for all the articles, tutorials and advice I've given out through the years via CreativeCow.net, my various websites and many other places I hang out.
It's Kylee Wall! My tag team partner in the Small Tree booth.
It's nice to hear that the work is appreciated and that's is been helpful through the years. I just like to share what we've learned, what we've broken and how we fix it to offer our perspective on the production industry and if it helps you avoid our mistakes or make more informed decisions, well that is awesome. So thanks for taking the time to find me and truly, thank you.
If you didn't come out this year, well you'll find me right back in the Small Tree Communications booth for NAB 2014!
Walter Biscardi, Jr.
That's a Wrap on NAB 2013