The National Association of Broadcasters has got together for its annual show in Las Vegas, and we're right there on the floor searching for what's new in the world of video technology. 4K recording and playback are expected to be major running themes, and the show's already kicked off with big announcements in those fields from both Canon and RED.
The iPad's a great tool for editing and sharing video, and the new model even has an excellent camera, but without multiple lenses, or a tripod mount it's not as usable or versatile as dedicated video cameras. The Padcaster aims to change that: it's a sturdy case that lets you connect your tablet to a tripod and a lens, and turn it into a one-step solution for recording, editing, and sharing video. The $199 device was just announced this week at NAB, and we got a chance to test out one of the prototypes.Read Article >
The case is big, to be sure, with a soft red inside and a hard aluminum shell — you're not going to want to leave your iPad in the Padcaster all the time. It's strong, though, and held the iPad in securely. Around the edges of the camera are a handful of thread holes and openings, so you can attach the device to a tripod, add a flash or an accessory, or connect an external mic. Using the also-new $79.99 Lenscaster mount, Padcaster creator Josh Apter mounted a Carl Zeiss lens on the camera so he could get film-like focusing range and depth of field.
3D's still a bit of a novelty, and hasn't really caught on in a mainstream way outside of movie theaters and amusement parks. Dolby's showing off a prototype 3D display at NAB that might change that, though. We got a chance to watch some footage on the glasses-free 3D TV at NAB, and everything we saw from Captain America to The Art of Flight looked fantastic. Viewing angles were particularly impressive: even from far off to the side, the 3D effect was still present, and the picture was so crisp and clean that it almost took a minute to realize we were looking at 3D footage.Read Article >
Dolby is working with Philips to manufacture the displays, which use a sheet of undulated plastic to deflect pixels in various directions — there are 26 different viewing angles in all. Because the image is being sent in so many directions at once, the display has to be incredibly high-resolution to look good (the prototype was a quad-HD TV), which is why Dolby reps said the same impressive viewing angles are going to be harder to achieve on smaller devices like smartphones. The companies are waiting for the higher-res displays to be more mainstream, and less expensive.
Ted Schilowitz, RED's "Leader of the rebellion," was surrounded by a dozen or so journalists and a smattering of RED products that would feel right at home inside a Michael Bay film, but all he wanted to talk about was a sensor. The new Dragon sensor, to be exact, which can be installed into your RED Scarlet or Epic and makes either capable of 6K video recording. The $6,000 sensor is set to be available later this year, and is perfectly indicative of both the insane arms race we're entering with video resolution, and how RED has clearly gained an early lead.Read Article >
The phrase "obsolence obsolete" was plastered all over the company's booth, and it's a neat summation of what RED is trying to do: sell you a camera, and then update it frequently — with new software and new hardware — so you can always have a top-of-the-line machine. After all, you're not going to want to be stuck on 4K when everyone's onto 6K, right? That's why the Dragon sensor exists: it adds a huge new sensor into your camera, but works with the body, lenses, and accessories you already own. Same goes for the company's new Bomb EVF, or the 9-inch touchscreen LCD, or the awesome Meizler Module that adds all kinds of wireless capabilities to RED cameras. None require an entirely new camera; all just fit into the ecosystem, new elements in the modular system RED has created.
We've seen 4K cameras and 4K projectors here at NAB, but most of it isn't exactly consumer-friendly yet. Canon's remembering the common folk, though, showing off the latest version of its prototype 4K displays in the form of 30-inch TVs. We were escorted into a dark room to watch 4K footage on the smaller displays — the same two shorts used last night to demonstrate the C500 and 1D C's capabilities — and while it's not quite as breathtaking as it was on a movie theater-sized screen, footage still looked incredible. One scene we watched showed a cityscape, and tiny cars on the 4K display were incredibly clear and detailed, allowing you to see two distinct headlights on the ant-sized vehicle.Read Article >
Canon clearly knows that part of driving 4K adoption is going to be giving consumers a way to watch the footage in all its high-res glory. The company's not known for making displays, but creating a prototype and reference design could go a long way toward convincing people to buy 4K TVs — which reps said will likely be a challenge similar to getting people to switch to HDTVs several years ago. As was the case with HD, though, a few minutes of watching 4K footage is enough to make you not want to go back.
It seems like everywhere you look at NAB, someone's showing off a 4K camera. Sony's NEX-FS700 doesn't actually shoot 4K yet (though it will soon, with an extra recorder attached and after a firmware upgrade), but it has another feature that sets it apart: it can shoot 1080p footage at 240 frames per second, and can go as high as 960 fps at lower resolutions. The FS700 also features ISO range up to ISO 20,000, a Super 35mm sensor, and an E mount that means it can use all the same lenses as Sony's still NEX cameras.Read Article >
We spent a few minutes with the camera, and though we couldn't test its hallmark feature we still liked what we saw. Once the 4K is enabled, though, the price-resolution-slow-motion combination becomes the real hook here: Sony won't name an exact price for the camera, but did say it will be "under $10,000." Both RED and Canon 4K cameras come in at considerably more, so Sony's offering could look really compelling.
Most of the pro-level cameras we've seen so far at NAB are more than a little out of the price range of the average consumer, but there's at least one option that's slightly more friendly: the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. For $2,995, you'll get the ability to shoot up to 2.5k footage (2432 x 1366), in a variety of different formats designed to work seamlessly with any editing program you can think of. The camera also offers 13 stops of dynamic range (that's in league with the 5D Mark III and the RED Epic), plus a Thunderbolt port, SSD drive port, and a touchscreen LCD that lets you quickly operate the camera, tweak settings, and add metadata to your recordings. It has a sensor about Four Thirds-size, and an EF mount — that means it's compatible with a huge range of lenses from Canon and others, but that there's an inherent crop because of the relatively smaller sensor. Oddly, there's no removable battery, and the Cinema Camera only lasts three hours; reps actually told us that you could hack your own battery system, and might want to.Read Article >
In our time with the aluminum-built camera, the Cinema Camera felt like a clever hybrid of usability and shooting power. No, you don't get 4K, and it's a considerably smaller sensor than some we've seen, but at $2,995 there's still a lot of bang for your buck, and the Cinema Camera is far more user-friendly for a novice than most cinema cameras we've seen. It also ships with a full copy of the DaVinci Resolve color-grading software, which itself costs $1,000 or more.
We first got a glance at GoPro's Wi-Fi BacPac at CES, but the company's back at NAB showing off the device and revealing a few more details. Basically, the BacPac is a small module that attaches to the back of any GoPro camera and gives you remote control of the device via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. You can connect one camera or dozens — we controlled 30 at once — to a single remote, all set up as far as a football field apart. The included remote lets you start and stop recording on all the cameras at once, as well as tweak settings and modes. We've been really impressed with the GoPro's video quality and durability, and being able to set the camera up and control it from afar is a pretty nice addition.Read Article >
If you have a smartphone or tablet, the BacPac will also act as a viewfinder for your GoPro cameras. The phone and camera connect via an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network, so you can see exactly what the camera sees as you control settings and recording. Unfortunately, you won't initially be able to stream from the GoPro to the internet using your phone as the conduit, but GoPro reps said that's coming in the form of a software update.
Along with its new glasses-free 3D technology, Dolby is bringing an updated version of its Digital Plus surround sound technology to NAB this year. Dolby Digital Plus is the current incarnation of the company's discrete surround technology, where each audio channel is delivered separately rather than decoded from a stereo stream. Normally, the bare minimum bit rate used by broadcasters to deliver Dolby Digital Plus is around 384kbps, but Dolby says that through tweaking the codec it has been able to reduce this down to just 192kbps.Read Article >
This means that the audio stream would need to take up only half as much bandwidth, allowing broadcasters and streaming providers to add extra commentary or languages, more surround channels (allowing for 7.1 surround), or even to use the freed-up bandwidth for more TV channels. The best part of this is that current Dolby Digital Plus decoders will support the lower bit rate streams, so your cable box, Xbox 360, and PS3 will still work fine. Whether you'll notice the reduction in quality or not is a different matter.
Apr 16, 2012
Sony has announced a new optical mass storage solution for release by fall of this year. The technology comprises of cartridges which Sony dubs ODC1500R, each containing twelve optical discs which will be seen as one volume sized between 300GB and 1.5TB. 1.5TB is roughly the same size as 12 full capacity Blu-ray discs, so it doesn't look as though there has been any development in that respect, but rather Sony has found a way to make 12 discs read / writeable in a stack, which is no less impressive.Read Article >
The cartridges will be released alongside compatible hardware in the form of the ODS-D55U USB 3.0 Optical Disc Archive. Sony notes that TDK has already signed up to manufacture discs under license, and also lists a number of companies that will be using the new technology, including BSkyB, CBS News, Time Warner Cable Sports, Fuji Television, and Tohokushinsha. There are a couple of things that aren't clear yet — first, what the price of the cartridges and hardware will be, and second, whether this technology will filter down to end users, or if it's intended solely for archivists, as a replacement to data tapes.
High-definition specialist RED has announced that an upgrade is coming for its Epic and Scarlet cameras, allowing users to add 6K native video recording (6,000 x 4,000) to their already specced out video shooters. Dubbed "Dragon," the sensor also promises 15 stops of native dynamic range as well as the ability to record at 120fps in 5K. This is a significant upgrade for the cameras, particularly the Scarlet, which can currently only shoot at 4K while still maintaining any kind of fluid frame rate.Read Article >
RED's cameras are designed with this kind of upgrade in mind, with a modular design meaning that users can easily add new features or lens mounts to their cameras at a later date — hardly something that Canon's new cinema range can boast. These modules (and avoiding obsolescence) don't come cheap, though: the Epic upgrade will set you back $6000, while the same module for the Scarlet hasn't been priced yet. Both will be available later this year.
NAB is all about the best of the best in camera technology, and Canon kicked off this year's show with a bang. The company crowded a theater with industry professionals, press, and just lovers of cinema, and showed off its new EOS C500 and EOS-1D C, the 4K cameras the company launched this week.Read Article >
The cameras themselves aren't huge departures from cameras we've seen before. The 1D C looks a lot like the 1D X, but rather than a still camera that shoots great video, this is most assuredly a video-first camera. It shoots 4K video at 24 frames per second, and can output uncompressed 1080p footage as well. It's a very light and mobile camera, at least considering its competition, and the sample we saw — a short called "The Ticket" that was shot using the camera — looked fantastic. We did notice a bit of softness on the slow-motion, overcranked scenes in the video, but we're seriously nitpicking. Canon boasts of the camera's high dynamic range, incredible ISO sensitivity, and extreme detail; all of those things come through in the footage. It will start at about $12,000 when it's available later this year.
Apr 12, 2012
Canon has just announced the latest addition to its line of DSLRs, the EOS-1D C — this camera features an 18.1-megapixel full frame sensor, and is also the first Canon DSLR that can record video at 4K resolution (4096 x 2160). There's no word yet on when this camera will be available beyond sometime in 2012; it'll retail for $15,000 when it does hit store shelves.Read Article >
While the camera's sensor can be used for capturing still images (with the same megapixel count as the recently-launched EOS-1D X), video is clearly this camera's main focus. It records 8-bit 4:2:2 Motion JPEG 4K at 24FPS and can also fall back to "standard" 1920 x 1080 HD at rates between 24FPS and 60FPS. ISO sensitivity for video ranges up to 25,600 in extended mode, and uncompressed 1080p video can be output from the camera's HDMI port to an external recording. The body design appears to be nearly identical to that of the 1D X — remember the prototype rig? — and it also contains the earlier camera's dual CF slots.