"Stereo" replaced the long-running "HD" as the new buzzword at this year's NAB.
Another April, another trip to Las Vegas for the annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference and exhibition. This year, though, it was hardly "the same old show."
Consider, for instance, the booths that attendees saw when they entered the South Hall, home to the vendors in the multimedia arena. Rather than encountering Apple and Avid, show-goers were met by Thomson, Matrox Electronic Systems, WSI Corp., Quantel, and Archion. That's because Apple and Avid decided not to exhibit. Avid still maintained a foothold, albeit at the Hard Rock hotel (with some product presence at other vendors' booths), while Apple met with select clients in a tucked-away meeting room. Much to my surprise, Apple forewent its Sunday morning "revival" (aka user event), a longtime staple at NAB. This coming just one year after Apple rocked the room with impressive product rollouts, including Final Cut Server, Final Cut Studio 2, Motion, Compressor, Color, and more-all with enticing price tags. As for Avid, prior to the show, the company had launched its "New Thinking" campaign based on customer feedback. "New," meaning new executives, new lower pricing, and a new streamlined product line.
For the third consecutive year, attendees were seeing Red. Once again, folks were lined up outside the Red Digital Cinema Camera Company booth to get a look at the company's Red One camera, which continued to cause tongues to wag and eager users to salivate. Two years ago, the company whetted appetites with a prototype and a promise; last year, it delivered. This year, it attracted vendors eager to attach themselves to Red One's rising star-among them, Boxx, which released its RedBoxx for viewing 4k footage shot with the Red One camera at full-quality 2k resolution in real time. RedBoxx includes Assimilate's new Scratch Cine software for DI work.
Another big hit at the show was HP's DreamColor monitor, unveiled at the Spotlight Series on Digital Innovation. Developed in collaboration with DreamWorks, the monitor (which will be released this summer) offers 30-bit coloring using LED backlighting technology and is tuned to maintain color consistency throughout the creative process-and at a very attractive price. Also at the presentation, DreamWorks announced that it will be doing all its future movie projects in stereo, and proceeded to treat the audience to a clip of its upcoming Kung Fu Panda film in stereo, offering a taste of things to come (though that animated feature will not have a stereo release).
"Stereo," in fact, was the new buzzword this year (supplanting the long-running "HD"), as stereo rises far beyond its gimmicky past. To this end, NAB's Content Theater featured a day of stereoscopic topics, from a primer on image capture, content, and exhibition, to projects such as this summer's feature Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D and the popular U2 3D film from the band's Vertigo tour. A number of vendors-including The Foundry and Quantel-are keeping pace with the stereo phenomenon with products fine-tuned for the onslaught of three-dimensional projects. One of the more impressive products was the Iconix Studio2K camera system optimized for stereo applications.
In the coming months, CGW will be following these an other developments as the industry ushers in the new age of digital cinema. Until then, visit www.cgw.com for a rundown of the NAB show news.