Every year in the beginning of April thousands upon thousands of video professionals and industry folks descend upon the desert oasis and get lost in the lavishness of Las Vegas for the biggest broadcast video trade show in the world – The National Association of Broadcasters Show, or simply NAB Show.
Last years NAB show had over 98,000 attendees from 159 countries that came to see exhibits from over 1,700 companies. And this year the show will be even bigger than ever before. So we hope you've had your flights and hotels booked, packed some comfortable shoes and you're are ready to dive into the endless sea of professional video gear, post-production workflow solutions, streaming and live broadcast transmission innovations, and all sorts of high tech gizmos that is the yearly NAB Show.
In this post, we'll look at a few things we're expecting (and hoping) to see at this years convention.
What We Expect to See
Brand New Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion
For the first time this year, NAB will have a dedicated arena for the latest innovation in the world of unmanned aerial systems that seem to have literally taken off like a rocket in the last year. The new Aerial Robotics and Drones Pavilion is sponsored by DJI, who've had phenomenal success with their Phantom drones making aerial photography accessible to the budget oriented shooters.
The new pavilion will feature an “enclosed flying cage” design so one can get up and close to experience this cutting-edge technology and experience it first hand. A panel of industry experts including broadcasters and Exhibitors will take attendees through all aspects of employing aerial technology
While their larger quad and octocopter aerial systems cater to larger cameras and their DJI Ronin 3-axis hand held stabiliser, announced at last year's event, brought their famous stabilisation systems down from the skies and literally into the hands of camera operators and filmmakers at an affordable price.
With the recent price drop of the DJI Ronin down to £1,499 + VAT something tells me that we may very well see a new model announced or another variation of the successful hand held gimbal stabiliser at this year's trade show.
This area of NAB is expected to be very popular and quite busy with over 20+ exhibitors and thousands of attendees eager to get their hands on the latest kit, so be sure to check it out if you're heading over to NAB this year.
4K (Cameras & Infrastructure) Everywhere
Major camera manufacturers, as a matter of fact all of them, including Canon, Sony, Panasonic, JVC as well as new entrants into the camera segment such as Blackmagic Design and AJA have released 4K cameras in the past year. Last year, 4K was the theme of the show with cameras like the AJA Cion, Sony A7s, and the Blackmagic URSA made headlines alongside 4K recorders like the Atomos Shogun, so we expect this year to be even more headline worthy with new 4K cameras all over the place.
Sony shocked pretty much all of us with the very aggressively priced 4K FS7 camera they unveiled at IBC 2014 in Amsterdam. Squeezed in between the FS700 and F5, spec for dollars (pounds, Euros, you name it) it offers the best of both worlds – shoot 4K XAVC in camera or Raw externally, and get super smooth slow-motion up to 180fps in camera directly onto XQD media cards for about £5,200 + VAT.
The FS7 has been extremely popular among owner-operators, rental houses and production companies and for a good reason – it signalled the arrival of the mighty sub-$10K cameras capable of performing just as well as some of their much higher prices brethren. Now, that's not to undermine bigger, more expensive cameras, especially in the Sony range – the F5 and F55 have some unique features such as the Super 16mm crop mode, and SStP SR codec and global shutter & F65 colour science on the F55, which make them different beasts altogether and separate them from the lower priced FS700 and FS7.
Contrary to what some may believe, 4K acquisition and soon delivery is not a fad or a new technology that never really took off on all levels like 3D. The constant flow of new cameras capable of delivering exceptional 4K images at competitive prices, new monitors capable of displaying that resolution as well as 4K post-production and broadcast tools from the likes of companies like Blackmagic Design and AJA among many others, are a strong indication of where the industry is headed.
Hand-held Gimbal Stabilisers / Drones & Other innovative stabilisation systems
When a technology, or rather a segment of stabilisation systems, gets a pavilion dedicated to exhibitors and attendees getting the best of their kit, usually this is a good signal that serious demand is present and we can expect to see quote a few more hand-held gimbals and drones announced at NAB at attractive price points.
NAB is a great way for smaller manufacturers and start-ups to “wow” attendees with their latest innovations and stand their ground with bigger and more established manufacturers.
(Of Course) More New Cameras
Will Canon finally respond to the Sony FS7 with a new Cinema EOS camera capable of 4K internal recording and high frame rates at 1080p? This seems to be on the tip of everyone's tongue – will we see a new C300 successor worthy enough to revitalize Canon once again just as the original C300 did four years ago? Canon have the 1DC and the C500 (the latter of which can record 4K but only externally) and they are certainly more than capable of producing incredible 4K images in the hands of talented cinematographers, however we, just as many of you out there, feel that the Cinema EOS line-up is certainly due for a refresh.
And in 2015 it has to be a 4K large sensor camera capable not only of increased resolution, but also wider dynamic range, faster media, and professional I/O connectivity one is expecting from a top quality pro camera. We're sure that whatever Canon brings out at NAB (and believe us, we don't know exactly what they have up their sleeve) but we have a feeling it will not disappoint. Whether it will be one or two or even more cameras announced, it will be all revealed in a few short weeks in Vegas.
ARRI have been on a role for the past few months rolling out the ALEXA MINI at BVE 2015 just last month, and more recently announcing the latest incarnation of their ALEXA XT line-up with improved electronics, image processing and 4K internal recording with the new ALEXA SXT line-up due to arrive in the coming months. NAB is the biggest trade show of the year, and for the biggest industry manufacturer it seems the perfect time to make an impact. What do ARRI up their sleeves? We're not exactly sure, but we may be in for something very special come the 2nd week of April.
LED Lights (lots of them)
Of course, NAB is not only about cameras and stabilisers, even though those seem to steal the spotlight from other kit in the last few years. Cameras in general have always been the icing on the cake for NAB-ers (not sure if this word exists, but I'll take my chances) however, what good is a camera without proper lighting?
Lighting technology has been evolving rapidly in the last few years with LED making a huge push over Tungsten. We're expecting to see the latest from industry leaders such as KinoFlo, ARRI, Litepanels, Dedo, as well as new entrants and specialists lighting manufacturers that will light up the Las Vegas Convention Centre so you can see it from miles away.
We expect to see more and more LED offerings, especially some new Remote Phosphor lights, smaller more portable, and with better colour rendition than ever before.
Canon, Fujinon, ARRI, Zeiss and other lens manufacturers will have their latest optics at display and NAB is a place where big announcements in cinema and broadcast glass tend to get made, so we expect to see a few announcements there.