One of the great parts of my job is that I’m tasked with staying on top of all things production technology … Including industry trends, technology, best workflow practices, gossip, rumors, and where to get the best sashimi (okay, last one, not so much) As part of that I get sent to NAB every year to scout and learn.
While there were a whole bunch of incremental improvements in the realm of big-budget/production hardware software, there was also a lot of cool stuff going on that can benefit web video types, help them improve their workflow, and improve production values, while staying within the no-to-low budget environment’s we all know and, well, deal with.
First, and foremost there was a remarkable amount of New Media coverage in the conferences going on … Presentations/Seminars on everything from how to make a web video, to how to market web video, to the different types of deals being done for web video. All of this going on in the middle of a convention that is primarily geared towards institutional broadcasting and film settings. A lot of the credit for this, at least where the conferences are concerned, has to go to Future Media Concepts, the training company that puts the conferences together.
As far as technology itself, there was quite a bit of interesting stuff on hand for web and low-budget film/video makers … Too much, in fact, to jam into a single blog entry, so I’m going to break this down into a series of posts about Cameras and Memory, Acquisition and Ingest tech (which is a lot cooler than it sounds), and Editorial. This being part the first, will be about camera stuffs.
Panasonic introduced a new line of lower price P2 cards, the E Series, which will make folks who shoot on HVX other Panasonic P2 cams happy. According to Panasonic “the 16GB and 32GB E-Series P2 cards will be available this May at a suggested list price of $420 and $625 respectively. The 64GB E-Series P2 card will be available in August at a suggested list price of $998. The E-Series will be offered alongside Panasonic’s standard extended lifetime 16GB, 32GB and 64GB P2 cards (A-Series).”
Yeah, I know … Such a bargain. But if you’re shooting HVX the E Series cards represent a bit of savings.
Panasonic also announced a new low-end/prosumer camcorder, the AG-HMC40 AVCCAM, which will retail for about $3,000 when it’s available in August.
The new camera is a fixed-lens model using “3MOS” imager, and records to low-cost SDHC media using the AVCHD Codec (Yeah, AVC is a pain-in-the-ass to work with, but it’s the new HDV so deal … Part 2 of this series will have some options for dealing, or working around dealing, with AVC) The Panasonic rep that I spoke to at the show told me the camera can shoot AVC-Intra, a much higher-quality, I-frame-based version of AVC that was previously only found on their higher-end ($17K+) cameras. That said, the press release doesn’t confirm this, and we’ll just have to see … If this camera does shoot AVC-Intra, I’d gladly take a look at it when it becomes available. Otherwise, with AVCHD, 3MOS (marketing upspin on CMOS) and associated rolling shutter problems (this is a topic for a separate discussion, but you can find a great video discussing both the problem and some work that the folks over at The Foundry are doing to address it at the fxguide news site), I’d probably be looking at JVC’s new GY-HM100U PRO HD cam in the same price range.
The GY-HM100U wraps the media in Quicktime Wrappers that can be dragged and dropped directly into Final Cut Pro, making data acquisition/ingest almost completely transparent. JVC’s also put a fast Fujinon F1.8, 10x, 3.7-37mm lens on the camera. The JVC camera uses 3, 1/4″, CCDs which, combined with the proven quality of the XDCam codec, would make it preferable to the Panasonic offering (although I would have preferred 1/3″ CCDs on this model.)
The GY-HM100U, announced back in January at the FCPUG MacWorld Supermeet, starts shipping next week. B&H Photo in New York is offering this camera at $3495, making it a feature-packed, low-cost alternative to the Sony EX1. As long as you don’t mind being limited to a fixed lens, this is a great camera at a great price.
JVC also announced a big brother to the GY-HM100U this week, the GY-HM700. Featuring many of the features of the HM100U, the HM700 is the first shoulder-supported camera that records directly to low-cost SDHC cards. It ships with a sweet Canon 14x zoom, and uses 1/3″ CCDs for recording. It’s going to list for about $7-8K when release later this summer. This camera could provide an cost-effective alternative (due to cheaper media) to the HVX200, and be popular in ENG-type work.
I’m really interested in getting my hands on the JVC HM100U … It’s in a price range that works for me, and offers the benefits of the already-proven Sony HDCAM codec, CCD imaging, low cost media options, and a nice, if fixed, Fujinon lens.
There was also a lot of ongoing talk about filmmaking using the Canon 5D Mk II, as well as the upcoming Panasonic GH1 … Both Digital SLRs with high quality video capabilities. At one of the panels on low-budget filmmakking, Stu Maschwitz screened a short action film, “After the Subway“, that he shot using the Canon Mk II. It’s definitely worth a look.
RED didn’t have a booth at the show this year, but there was a lot of talk and discussion of RED’s current an future product offerings, as well as a huge RED user event at the Rio on Wednesday night. Whether you’ve drunk the RED Kool-Aid or not, RED is here to stay, and, on the heels of feature films like “Knowing” which have used RED One, is going to see more and more action in both low and big budget films. That said, I’m largely writing about tech for peeps on minimal budgets, which RED isn’t. If you’re interested in hearing about all the RED action at NAB, check out one of the bazillion blogs dedicated to the topic, or the RED site.
On the next post we’ll take a look at some of the new acquisition boxes that were on display, including the AJA Ki Pro and the Matrox MXO2 series, all of which allow you to significantly improve data acquisition by bypassing your camera’s internal codec and recording hi-quality video straight to disk.