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NO-BUDGET 2006 NAB WRAP-UP
 
(click images to enlarge)

Historic Stardust Hotel
So Long Stardust!
Going the way of video tape

The "New" Vegas
What the hell is this thing?!?
Meet George Jetson

Upon arriving in Vegas for my annual NAB sojourn, I couldn't help thinking how much the city itself mirrored what was happening in the film industry. In Las Vegas, they call it "out with the old and in with the new", as we drove past the soon-to-be-demolished Stardust Hotel on our way to lunch at the newly opened Wynn, past the Jetson's-inspired whatever it is.  In the film world, they are calling the rapid changes in technology a "paradigm shift,"--different words, but same nostalgia for what we leave behind.  In this case, that would be 35mm film (eventually) and video tape (sooner than you think).  As for me, I won't miss either of them!

Tara Veneruso & Yours Truly
Help, I'm alergic!
Wynn loves flowers!

MS & Sony's CineAlta
I think I broke the follow focus!
Trying to look like I know what I'm doing

As you're reading this I have to admit, my NAB review is NOT comprehensive.  I've whittled my trip down over the years to now just one day. I fly in from Burbank in the morning, and fly out that same evening.  Yes, I cannot possibly see everything, but I here now am devotedly passing along the interesting things I did encounter between landing at 9am and finishing dinner at the Aladdin buffet (only the best!) at 8:30pm.

 

I come to NAB first for the camera offerings--something I can understand.  I concentrate mostly on the ones I could afford to own. This year that meant spending a lot of time at Panasonic checking out the new HVX-200, my favorite of the affordable HD cameras. (http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/hvx200/index.asp)

Panasonic HVX-200 DVCPro HD
I'll take two of 'em!
The Holy Grail of affordable HD cameras

HVX-200 Menu
Oh, shit--how do you work this thing?
Pick a format, any format

I'm just so impressed with this camera--small profile; reliable, robust, but efficient codec; intraframe compression; true overcranking and undercranking; true 24p; 4:2:2 color space; nearly every imaginable format and resolution; instant on; single frame recording; intervelometer; etc., etc., etc.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, no tape.  Now available is the 8GB P2 card ($1,350) and by the end of the year, the 16GB card will be out. 

Canon XL-H1 w/ FireStore & Monitor
FireStore - up to 100GB
Zacuto can turn your vid cam into a cine cam

P2 Store
Put your P2 in here
Dummy-proof operation; 60GB capacity

Focus Enhancements just started shipping their 100GB FireStore FS-100 if you can't get your arms around the SD memory card thing, (http://www.focusinfo.com/solutions/catalog.asp?id=150).  But I like the P2.  Expensive today, but cheap tomorrow. An 8GB card holds 20 minutes of 720p 24N (N=Native) footage, and the camera has two hot-swappable card slots.  You can download that card in about 8 minutes, either into a laptop with an external drive, or into a P2 Store ($1,800), which are currently 60GB, (https://eww.pavc.panasonic.co.jp/pro-av/sales_o/p2/p2store/index.html).  I got a quote from B&H:  $8,700 for an HVX with two 8GB P2 cards, (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/).  Where do I sign up?

Sony XDCAM HD - PDW-F350
Sony's IT answer
Records on to blue-laser optical discs

Of course Sony was touting their new 1/2" chip XDCAM cameras,  but I still prefer the Panasonic.  The XDCAMs are MPEG 2, so you have the same issues you would with the HDV cameras, interframe compression and long-GOP encoding.  The optical disc solution seems like a temporary one versus the P2--cheaper today, but solid state looks like the long-term winner.  Currently, though, a 23GB disc holds 85 minutes of HDV-compatible 25Mbps data.  These re-writable discs will run you about $30.  The PDW-F330 shoots 1080i at true 24p and starts at $17,000 (not including lens).  The F350 ($26k) adds overcranking and undercranking, just like the HVX.  All offer instant access to clips--so sayonara tape! (http://bssc.sel.sony.com/BroadcastandBusiness/markets/10014/xdcamhd_info.shtml)

Sony HVR-A1U
Mini HDV Pocket Rocket
HD in a tiny, professional package

Grass Valley's Viper FilmStream
Don't let the Viper bite you
This is what top-of-the-line looks like

Sony was there with all their other cameras, everything from the new CineAlta F900R, to the HDV Z1U ($4,400 at B&H), to their tiny and very cool A1, the single-CMOS chip HDV camera ($2,300). (http://www.sonyhdvinfo.com/)

 

Of course the big boys were there with their high-end digital cameras--the Viper, the Arri D20, etc.  I'll stick with the under $100k cameras, thank you. (http://www.thomsongrassvalley.com/products/cameras/viper/)

(http://www.arri.com/prod/cam/d_20/d_20.htm)

 

So where to put all this data, (the HVX has a 100Mbps data rate)?  LaCie was on hand with a number of different, affordable hard drive solutions, (as were the other hard drive makers).  I was impressed with their new portable drive, the Little Big Disk, with capacities of up to 320GB. Bus-powered, this drive is ideal for editing your feature on your laptop.  Their 1TB SATA drive was only $950; perfect for the HVX. (http://www.lacie.com/)

LaCie Little Big Disk
Ahhh, my hand is burning!
320GB capacity, built-in RAID 0, bus-powered

Anton Bauer's EgripZ mounted to ElipZ
The Egrip and Elip are Egreat!
The ElipZ mounts to the camera's tripod mounting

My former Next Wave colleague Tara Veneruso and I wandered over into the gear section and found some interesting things.  Over at Anton Bauer we played with their new ElipZ 10k battery and complimentary EgripZ handheld camera support.  The innovative design of the ElipZ provides 7 1/2 hours of power for a camera like the DVX100 by mounting underneath the camera into its tripod mount.  The EgripZ is a simple but flexible brace that mounts to the camera's tripod mounting (or to the  ElipZ) and provides additional stability for handheld camera work, (http://www.antonbauer.com/)  We also tried out the Fig Rig at the Manfrotto booth, another simple but effective camera stabilizer for small profile video cameras like the DVX, HVX and Z1U, (http://www.manfrotto.com/Jahia/cache/offonce/pid/1952?idx=120&fullList=0%7C67%7C120&categoryKey=)

Manfrotto Fig Rig Camera Stabilizer
Don't steer your camera into a tree
Allows for smooth traveling shots

P+S Technik's Skater Mini
It costs how much!?!
Table-top dolly system

Another interesting but expensive camera movement system is P+S Technik's Skater Mini.  Think of the Skater as a miniature, but highly precise dolly.  It's a 2" high device with three wheels that sits on a smooth table top and allows you to make very precise moves by yourself--no dolly grip or crew.  You can put virtually any camera on it, up to 66 lbs.  For certain situations, this would be pretty cool to have. (http://www.pstechnik.de/en/skater.php)

 

I'm looking forward to buying some of this gear in the near future, or if not, there's always Cinegear this summer, (http://www.cinegearexpo.com/).

ARCHIVED EDITIONS OF THE NO BUDGET REPORT:
No Budget Report August 2007 - LAFF
No Budget Report March 2007 - Sundance
 
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