Friday, 13 April, 2012

NAB 2012 preview

It's been a bit quiet on my blog lately. 

I've been busy with an initiative to help digital movie makers. 'Movie-makers' because film-makers use film to make movies, 'movie-makers' make movies, with or without film. Anyway, this initiative is still under development, with name, trademark, and other procedural issues being sorted out. Once it's all done, I'll report here.

Meanwhile, I'm at NAB 2012. For those that don't know, NAB is the National Association of Broadcasters. Every year, they organize a large exhibition and conference at Las Vegas in the US. The exhibition begins Monday 16 Apr this year.

So, leading up to the exhibition there have been several announcements. Some of which will impact movie production and post-production. I'm concentrating on post-production as that's more of my livelihood for now.

Here are things to watch for, at NAB 2012...

Thunderbolt devices

A Thunderbolt equipped MacPro is still awaited, but the number of Thunderbolt equipped MacBook Pros, iMacs, and Mac minis are growing. Thunderbolt devices have been pretty thin so far. This NAB, expect a whole new set of Thunderbolt peripherals. 

Thunderbolt - PCIe, Thunderbolt - SATA, Thunderbolt - Fibre, Thunderbolt - GigE, Thunderbolt - SAS, and many others not yet unveiled, might mean that maybe we won't need that Thunderbolt MacPro so badly after all.
New software for editing

Avid Media Composer 6 has been out for a while, and Avid, most certainly, has more tricks to show.
Adobe has just unveiled Premiere Pro 6 which at least one site has proclaimed is the 'FCP 8' that never happened. 
And, there may be a new entrant in this edit software market. Maybe, but not certain.

FCP X, an editing software that has been slammed by some hailed by others, and possibly doesn't enjoy the numbers that FCP 7 did. This NAB, may be the turning point. We may see many stalls sporting FCP X. There are indications that FCP X is gaining traction, although from a whole new market. I for one am making it a priority to examine this piece of software more closely, and even use it more that I currently do.

An announcement from Apple is unlikely, but no one can really predict Apple.


Filmlight showed the Baselight plug-in last year. It's shipping this year, for FCP 7, even if its been almost a year since FCP 7 has been discontinued. For a large installed base of FCP 7 users, particularly those who need to inter operate with the full Baselight, here is a innovative colour correction during editing workflow.

GenArts, Foundry, and a host of others make plug-ins for FCP (7 and X), Avid, Premiere Pro, and other NLEs. These seem to do pretty well and at NAB 2012 we will see more and better stuff from them. I have a ffeling though, that plug-ins need to improve dramatically, in capability and speed, and fall in price if anyone has to make windfall from making them. 

Blackmagic announcements

Blackmagic always has something new - cards, external devices, software, something. This year too, expect something. Maybe something Earth-shattering like the $ 1000 Resolve some time ago. Maybe a new control surface, or even a monitor.

Aja announcements

Aja too, probably, has something big planned for NAB. Their current Thunderbolt video I/O offerings are already more featured that anyone else's. But something more that video I/O may be shown.

Red announcements

Red, the digital camera company that created a huge impact to the digital movie-making market with the Red camera, has a stall at NAB this year. So expect either a new camera announcement, modifications or upgrades to existing ones, or something dramatic. This is also probably the first year this innovative company has some real competition.


Many companies will show digital movie data recording, copying, transcoding, and management tools. In the form of software, hardware, devices, or all of the above.

To 3D or not to 3D

A couple of years ago, after Avatar, 3D was projected as the next big thing. It hasn't quite worked out that way, and 2D is still around in a big way. This year too, 3D will be about as luke warm as it was and may even go on the decline.


The passing of film - 'tapeless' - has been spoken about in every NAB for the past decade or so. This is probably the first NAB where film's end is truly near. And if, between this NAB and the next, film manufacturing companies go under, then NAB 2012 might be the last year we see film scanners and recorders. 

The big boys

Autodesk, DFT (Thomson), Quantel, FilmLight, Arri, Digital Vision aka Nucoda, Cintel, Grass Valley, and others - these have been the big boys in post-production at NAB. Large stalls, hundreds of people manning them, announcements, parties, multi-million dollar gear on show and sale - have been their characteristics.

The decentralization of movie production, changing nature of broadcast, Internet based entertainment, approaching demise of film, and other factors have threatened their existence just like the mainframe computer manufacturers were edged out by the desktop PC revolution.

And so their stalls and presence shrinks with every passing year. But you can't write them off yet. This NAB, at least one of the big boys will have one more big moment. And maybe one or more of them won't be around after this year. Sad, but likely true.

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