NAB Show 2013 – Adobe, Blackmagic, VariZoom Wow the Crowds

While 3D products and workflows have dominated the discussion at the National Association of Broadcasters Conference in previous years, it was a noticeably absent topic in 2013, replaced by Cloud, 4k and 8k and new concerns about data management and archiving.

Understandable, as while 2.5k cameras and above are shrinking in size and cost, and more are offering 12-bit RAW capture, there are scarce few solutions for the consumer to actually manage the huge amounts of digital media they will create. It would seem this is a good time to invest in digital cold storage companies.

Adobe and SONY have seen this coming and announced Adobe Anywhere and Media Cloud Storage respectively, both Enterprise solutions designed to facilitate workflows between remote parties, create backups, check-in and out privileges and manage metadata from the point of ingestion through delivery and archiving.

Adobe also showed some major updates across the board. The flashiest among these is the integration of Maxon’s Cinema 4D inside After Effects. For those who do not yet own the $2000+ product, a free version of the 3D animation software comes built in. In a demo we saw on the floor, they got tracking points on a video of a car driving across a field, selected pointed on on ground which they defined as the “Ground Plate” with a simple right click, and then did the same for the car’s license plate. In a few clicks, they had exported this to Cinema 4D and were working with an animated wire frame of the vehicle which they then round-tripped back into After Effects.


SpeedGrade, which Adobe purchased only 50 days before it was bundled into CS6 has now had a year to be further developed and integrated, and the layer-based color correction software is showing huge forward strides. The same goes for Adobe Prelude – the logging and metadata management software, that now allows selective ingestion of DSLR footage – something that was not possible before. Additionally, one can simply create a metadata proxy of the footage, that is forever linked to the original source footage without ever having to transcode.

Elsewhere on the show floor we and others were entranced by VariZoom’s Stealthy a veritable Swiss Army Knife for the DSLR and camcorder shooter. Sold out at the show, we brought one home and took several days figuring out how all the parts screw and unscrew into it various promised permutations. While the tabletop tripod and monopod features are easy enough, getting the gimbal feature to work as a micro Steadicam proved almost impossible.

Setting the balance for any such gimbal device is something of a black art, but even with some tenacity, patience and many different configurations (in other words different sized lenses with out Canon 7D), we were unable to ever get it balanced.

The Stealthy went on to win VideoMaker’s Black Diamond Award for one of the best new products in the show, but we feel that an updated version or some more extensive video tutorials on how to get the damned thing set up correctly would be highly applauded.

Finally Blackmagic stunned the crowds with two new cameras on either end of last year’s stunner the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. In 2013 they unveiled a 4K version that boasts 12 stops dynamic range and the Pocket Cinema Camera, no larger than your standard point and shoot that records native Pro Res, 2.5K and boasts 13 stops of dynamic range….for under a thousand bucks.

blackmagic pocket cinema camera back-front

Of course we would be the first in line to buy one however the cameras are not slated to ship until July 2013. The caveat here, is that there are people who are just now receiving their back-ordered cameras for the 2012 show. So this may be a lot of vaporware for the time being. Other complained/wished that instead of rolling out new models, companies like Blackmagic, Canon and Nikon would continue to improve on existing models rather than deluge the market with new offerings. Even though the DSLR revolution may appear a little long in the tooth, it is still only several years old and people are just starting to make good on their investments while discovering the true possibilities.

Since the show, Adobe has gone on to announce unilateral support of their Adobe Creative Cloud solution, and that they will cease development of further standalone software unlinked to a cloud account.

Also, Apple has just shown the long-awaited, often-doubted-to-exist successor to the venerable Mac Pro – the size of a large coffee mug and featuring AMD graphics cards, the diminutive new model thus abandons Nvidia and its CUDA optimizations for Adobe. Strange days are here. Learn more about the new Mac Pro at the Apple site.

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