Once again NAB 2014 was a very busy NAB. And once again I didn’t seem to venture very far out of the post-production-centric South Hall other than to head to the North Hall for teaching at Post|Production World. There was one visit to the GoPro booth but other than that the camera and acquisition-centric Central Hall was just a tunnel to the north. In addition to the winner and losers (which I’ll cover in just a bit) there were a few interesting things I noticed down south.
Storage Was Everywhere
If there’s one thing that kept popping up over and over and over in the South Hall it was storage. Lots and lots of storage. Beyond what EditShare showed us there were tons of other vendors (Promise talked with PVC as well) with storage that approached every conceivable budget and form factor. We also spoke with G-Technology as they are one of the major players in post-production storage.
CalDigit has made a big play on Thunderbolt as they were showing all new wares that bet it all on Thunderbolt. The CalDigit T4 seems to be a good bet with a small Thunderbolt 2 RAID unit that can hit a RAID 5 configuration, be really really fast and … “most affordable.”
CalDigit also told me that they’ve made a transition away from legacy, non-Thunderbolt support so the old standby HDElement isn’t available anymore. The product page is still there but when you click Buy Now it’s nowhere to be found.
Beyond those guys here’s a few other storage vendors that I talked to on the show floor. While they might not all be geared exactly toward making fast RAIDs for post-production there were lots of storage companies on the NAB show floor. Below are some of those I chatted with that make some type of direct attached storage. Some offer Thunderbolt as an option while others are still concentrating on legacy type connections. I’m not even touching on all those that make SAN storage who had a booth at NAB.
AkiTio is making a full range of really cool Thunderbolt stuff including the Palm RAID and Thunder Dock. They’ve even done some re-engineering to their Neutrino Thunder Duo 2-bay RAID since I received a test model from them a couple of months ago.
CineRAID has been around for awhile as I’ve seen them at trade shows for quite a few years. They have a full lineup of RAIDs in most shapes and sizes. They were also showing their Home Series that includes some interesting things like this WiFi hard drive dock.
Stardom storage solutions was there and looking through their brochure they seem to offer the entire gamut of what one might need for post-production as long as you don’t need Thunderbolt as that isn’t mentioned. Both the SOHORAID and SOHOTANK lines might be interesting. And some of them include a handle.
Speaking of handles Ciphertex had some crazy looking systems with big green handles on the top. They looked to be less in the post-production market and more in the data security market but they had a nice size booth with a lot of storage options so they are worth mentioning. Their media and entertainment webpage goes into a bit more detail on what might target our market.
I made my way through the Lacie booth and they have a wide range of products available including a whole batch of Thunderbolt options. Lacie also was showcasing some of its extreme design options which got a lot of traffic into their NAB booth.
YoYotta is a real thing that lives beyond being listed as a supported application for the Tangent Element panels. I’ve often wondered exactly what YoYotta lives and lo and behold if I didn’t walk right by their NAB booth. Come to find out they make some rather impressive “backup, track, archive” software that has some rather impressive user case stories told to me at their booth. YoYottaID has a simple looking interface but can do a lot of powerful and important stuff. It’s kind of a modular thing that goes up in price as you add functionality. They need some of those user stories on their website.
YoYotta Dailies will hand lots of post-production tasks like transcoding, monitoring, metadata, looks processing, LUTs and syncing. They also have a blog that might be worth following to keep up with this little workflow company with the funny name.
Speaking of transcoding software, Divergent Media (the guys behind the awesome ScopeBox and ClipWrap) were showing their new transcoding tool EditReady. It looks to take the place of the now dead Magic Bullet Grinder to be the simple, affordable, goto tool for transcoding for the edit. They are claiming the fastest transcode times out there and when it comes to the rather unglamorous task of transcoding then this is a good thing. Here’s the bullet points:
- Quickly transcode any QuickTime file to an edit-ready format like Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD
- Simple settings – EditReady does the hard work for you
- Apply LUTs for color correction
- View and Edit Metadata
- Support for all the popular editing formats (ProRes, DNxHD, etc) and non-linear editors (Final Cut Pro, FCPX, Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple iMovie)
Feels like EditReady might make a nice replacement for Magic Bullet Grinder.
Next up: NAB 2014 Winners and Losers
To wrap up this 2014 coverage of NAB … here’s a little list of some winners, losers and that that didn’t really make any impression from NAB 2014.
If you’re a camera guy then then was the NAB for you. It seems the AJA CION took the prize as the DP’s favorite camera announcement as it seemed to be well thought out from an ergonomic point of view. The techo-geeks seemed to gravitate toward the Blackmagic Design URSA with its big, fold-out LCD and modular design. DSLR nerds got the new Sony Alphas to ponder as they stayed in the DSLR form factor. And it’s important to know that all cameras in this list shoot 4K and cost under $10,000.
All the CIONs, URSAs and Amira’s in the world aren’t worth the silicone inside of them without good glass in front of them. Lenses are still expensive and if you’re the owner of a good set of cinema lenses then the world will soon be your oyster. Depending on the mounting system you’ll have a lot of options to choose from when it comes to what to mount your glass to. And you can probably rent them to those camera owners who don’t own their own glass!
Everything is recording ProRes now. That’s just the way it is. While the really big and influential camera manufacturers have shoved codec after codec after codec down our throat year after year we have continued to hang bulky off-board recorders on the backs, sides and bottoms of camera after camera to get them to record straight to ProRes. The big camera announcements of NAB 2014 came from post-production companies and they know it isn’t worth the time and effort to record in anything other than the best post-production codec out there. Sony has even broken down and decided to add ProRes to some of their cameras. Hell must have frozen over in that Sony boardroom.
Those who like Subscriptions
We might as well face it. Subscriptions for software are in your future. It began with Adobe and it’s continuing with Avid, Autodesk and others. Be it for accounting reasons or just to have a continuous revenue stream they all say subscriptions are better. It’s definitely a cheaper way to get into a piece of software though whether that’s going to make good financial sense for the consumer in the long run remains to be seen. Let’s have this discussion 10, 20, 30 years from now at an NAB of the future and figure up how many subscriptions you have to pay for to do business and how much you’ve paid into them, month after month, over those decades. I bet we’ll all be a bit shocked. Have you ever figured up how much money you spent on an automobile lease at the end when you give the car back and have nothing to show for it but some memories? I have and it wasn’t pretty.
Doing some kind of editing in apps that aren’t Avid, Adobe or Apple: Resolve, Nuke Studio, Lightworks, Smoke
The big A’s of editing have long been Avid, Apple and Adobe. These last couple of NABs have seen other applications add NLE like functionality. There’s even been new ones introduced all together. Lightworks is finally coming to the Mac. Autodesk Smoke for Mac is going to take a bit of a different path now that it is going subscription and will have a conscious uncoupling from it’s big brother Flame. HitFilm is editing and effects all in one at an unbelievable price. Nuke Studio adds a timeline. Yes it’s more for conforming and prepping to do effects but where there’s a timeline there’s editing.
And then there’s DaVinci Resolve. Those crazy kids at Blackmagic Design went an improved upon their 2013 NAB idea of Resolve being a capable online editor and just added in a bunch of real offline friendly editing features. I think all we’re awaiting now is multicam. I talked to a couple of editors at NAB this year who have offlined some small jobs in Resolve.
There was once a time before ProRes. That was a time when your compressed HD was DNxHD in Avid Media Composer or Cineform in a PC version of Adobe Premiere Pro. Then Apple came along with ProRes. Cineform was purchased by GoPro and Avid’s DNxHD … it continued to live on but has been almost completely eclipsed by ProRes. Yes you can get DNxHD recording as an option in a few of the cameras and out-board recording devices these days but they are few and far between when compared to how many can record ProRes. Seems I remember Avid saying a couple of years ago that DNxHD would be able to scale to a beyond-HD future. That’s probably true but Avid Media Composer hasn’t scaled beyond HD yet thought Avid has said that is coming. That’s when we’ll probably see a DNx4K (or something) but until then it’s a ProRes world and we all just live in it.
Those who have recently bought and are awaiting shipment of new Mac Pros
Still waiting for one of those new Mac Pros? Hitting up Apple.com and being sad by the 4 week wait time? That’s probably because most of the Mac Pro production to date went to companies who brought them to a booth on the NAB 2014 show floor. Those things were everywhere (which makes them kind of a winner). It’s no wonder that production hasn’t been able to keep up with demand since seemingly every other booth on the show floor (and there were a lot of booths on the show floor) had a Mac Pro tube. Most of these folks probably bought them on launch day. Now that NAB is past maybe Apple can catch up.
Those who ate at the NAB Bistro
If you don’t know, at the back of the South Hall there’s a thing called the NAB Bistro and it’s a quiet place to actually sit down and have lunch. It’s a nice use of the space at the back of a convention hall and anything that seems like trade show lunch beyond standing up and scarfing down a shitty pre-made turkey sandwich with wilted lettuce and soggy bread is a good thing. But at $26 the NAB Bistro is not cheap. $26 for a quiet, on-the-premises, sit-down NAB lunch is stomachable but the quality of the Bistro this year (at least on Monday) was terrible. A dry piece of fish, soggy vegetables and stale bread wasn’t not worth the price of admission. A tiny drink cup and messy desert bar made it even worse. Last year it was much better. Pulling off hot, gourmet foods of this type in a trade show environment (where the hell was the kitchen?) can’t be easy. It seems they would be much better off not trying to go gourmet but instead concentrating on things that can stay decent in a high turn-over, buffet-style environment. A good sandwich, soup, salad and potato bar seems to be all they really need to make this work better. And please, give us some bigger drink cups for $26.
Those who hate Subscriptions
When Adobe announced their move to an all subscription model there was a lot of talk on both sides of the subscription aisle but the most vocal were the anti-subscription crowd. Clearly those voices didn’t dissuade other companies from tossing a subscription model into the mix. Most of these other companies are offering more than just a subscription only option but I think it’s clear that software subscriptions are the way of the future. If you want to hear a good software subscription discussion give this recent episode of That Post Show a listen where I set in on a chat with Aharon Rabinowitz from Red Giant Software. They recently introduced a subscription option and while I don’t mind subscriptions as an option when buying software I took a devil’s advocate position in that discussion. I think there’s good stuff in there in this new world of software subscriptions for the tools we use in post-production.
Autodesk Smoke for Mac
I’m not sure whether Autodesk Smoke for Mac has been a success for Autodesk or not (I talked about that a bit in my interview with Autodesk). I haven’t come across many of them in the wild thought I do know a few folks who love it and swear by it. For 2015 Smoke for Mac 2015 goes subscription and will take what will be its own path in the post-production world. A new product called Flame Assists will be for those who only bought Smoke to assist their Flames and Smoke for Mac 2015 will be its own thing. Down the road those two products should look less and less like each other. My guess is Smoke for Mac will become much more approachable for the editor who doesn’t live in an effects and compositing world. Will it move into more edit houses? That remains to be seen.
It would seem that Avid had a great NAB coming off their successful Avid Connect event. That event introduced Avid Everywhere as a new “vision for the future of the media industry.” There was really a lot of information that came out of that Avid Connect event and digging around the Avid Everywhere website shows there has been a lot of thinking that has gone into this new vision. But my conversations with other editors (I also had a conversation with Avid) in the days after the Avid Connect event was a lot more questions than answers. A lot of what we saw at the Avid press event seemed to be marketing more than innovation and Media Composer got no new feature updates beyond a subscription model. Big things will probably come for Media Composer later in the year. It’s also going to take some time for the Avid MediaCentral Platform to fully grow into its own. I still don’t understand it all but looking at the different product suites show how Avid is dividing up all of their products in this new initiative. For those of us that pretty much only use one Avid product, Media Composer, I think this new vision of Avid is less for us. But I hope this means that Media Composer will get a renewed focus to keep it on par with Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. Without Media Composer I’m not sure how useful all that Avid hardware will be.
Surprisingly it was a big camera year for NAB but none of that news came from RED. They still had a big booth in the South Hall and there were still a lot of people packing into it. Their on-site theater still had a line the days where I looked and tried to go in. And they sure had a lot of eyeballs watching when they had their swimsuit models trotting out for the fashion show. But they didn’t really have that much to announce this year and the didn’t create the buzz they did last year with the clean room installing new camera sensors. In fact I think this year people are still waiting on those Dragon sensors.
That brings NAB 2014 coverage nearly to an end. Join myself and Matt Jeppsen on Wednesday for the Pro Video Coalition Experts and Answers webinar where we wrap up our NAB 2014 coverage. I’m sure they’ll be a lot more next year.