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NAB 2010 Equipment Showcase

Stereo 3D support comes on strong. Innovations continue in digital cinema, VFX and LED lighting arenas.

By Christine Bunish

Automated phones with endless menu options The MicroPro Hybrid from Litepanels is the first pro LED light to combine continuous output and a Flash feature in a single fixture.
The MicroPro Hybrid from Litepanels is the first pro LED light to
combine continuous output and a Flash feature in a single fixture.

New MicroPro Hybrid from Litepanels is Ideal Companion for DSLR Cameras

Litepanels, whose pioneering LED fixtures have become popular tools in the film and television industries for their low-power draw, heat-free usage, and soft, directional illumination, is introducing the MicroPro Hybrid at NAB. The first professional LED light to combine continuous output and a Flash feature in a single fixture, the Hybrid is the ideal tool for motion-enabled DSLR cameras that are gaining ground in production.

Litepanels (www.litepanels.com) has designed the Hybrid with a Continuous Mode that provides a luminous, wrap-around soft output that beautifully captures DSLR cameras’ video capabilities. The Flash feature produces a 400 percent brighter burst which is perfect for illuminating a variety of still images. The light’s compact, low-profile head is ideally suited for mounting on a DV or DSLR camera.

The Hybrid delivers 1.5 hours of continuous output from six AA batteries or five to six hours from Energizer e2 Lithium cells. The system can be run off of either standard or rechargeable batteries. Power can be supplied optionally through a 5-16V input jack located on the back of the unit.

A convenient integrated dimmer at the top of he Hybrid housing offers instant 100 percent to 0 dimming with minimal color shift. Output is flicker free and heat free and remains consistent. For greater versatility, an integrated filter holder on the face of the light permits use of three included color/diffusion gels. Additional filters can be stored on the back of the fixture. A Strobe Sync Cable included at the base of the unit simply plugs in to enable a strobe function.

Automated phones with endless menu options The MicroPro Hybrid from Litepanels is the first pro LED light to combine continuous output and a Flash feature in a single fixture.
JVC introduces versatile GY-HM790 ProHD camcorder
for field and studio production.

JVC Unveils GY-HM790 ProHD Camcorder for Flexible Studio and Field Production

When JVC Professional Products (pro.jvc.com) launched its first professional HD cameras in 2004 the company also introduced its ProHD concept, “a designation that’s not tied to a particular format,” notes Dave Walton, assistant vice president of marketing communications. The resulting ProHD line of products has been designed with industry-standard compression and file formats, and a variety of media types.

Last year, JVC ProHD unveiled the GY-HM700, its first solid-state camcorder. It offered recording up to 35 Mbps, MPEG 2 compression, and 720p, 1080i and 1080p multi-scan capabilities.

This year, JVC is upgrading its top-of-the-line studio camera, the GY-HD250, with the GY-HM790 ProHD camcorder which makes its debut at NAB. The new camcorder combines all the capabilities of the 250 and 700 (1920×1080 4:2:2 processing; 1080i, 720p multi-scan; 35 Mbps encoding; and dual SDHC media) in a compact, shoulder-mount form factor for better maneuverability in the field and more flexibility with robotic camera-control systems in the studio.

The GY-HM790 also kicks the 700 up a notch with a number of new features, including 480i recording for broadcasters who haven’t yet made the move to HD, an analog SD pool feed input, and optional ASI output module that provides a direct feed from the camera to a satellite uplink or microwave transmitter via BNC for live HD video from the field.

Other optional output modules can “change the camera’s personality,” adapting it for multicore or fiber-based production, says Walton. In addition, “an optional SxS module allows the camera to record on SxS memory cards that give you back up while shooting,” he explains. “You can leave the field with a copy for your client and an edit master for yourself.”

Walton points out that “all the capabilities built into the GY-HM790 for broadcast work adapt nicely for non-broadcast applications, too. The camera has all the capabilities independent producers are looking for; the GY-HM790 has interchangeable lenses and our HD-CA13 film lens adapter for cine lenses will work with it. We also expect interest from the worship and educational markets to be huge.”

At NAB JVC will also showcase its GD-463D10 stereoscopic 3D monitors that have already proved popular with filmmakers and facilities working in S3D, and introduce the IF-2D3D1 stereoscopic image processor for realtime 2D-3D conversion.

Mole Richardson's 24K DayLite Fresnel is the largest and most powerful HMI fresnel on the market.
Mole Richardson’s 24K DayLite Fresnel is the largest
and most powerful HMI fresnel on the market.

Mole Richardson
Mole Richardson Unveils MoleLED and 24K DayLite Fresnel

Previewed at LDI last fall, MoleLED gets its full product launch at NAB. Billed as the first true film-friendly LED solution, the 50W MoleLED unites a sophisticated design by Mole Richardson (www.mole.com) with advanced remote phosphor LED technology from OSRAM. It marks Mole Richardson’s debut in the product category.

“What sets our version of the LED fixture apart is that we’ve solved the color issue for motion pictures and television,” reports Mole Richardson director of sales Paul Royalty. “We’ve been working with OSRAM Sylvania to get the color rendering to match 3200K tungsten exactly, and blend seamlessly with existing 5600K daylight.”

MoleLED boasts a number of innovations. “The fixture’s special diffuser glass allows for a single light source look without a significant decrease in light transmission,” Royalty points out. “That renders the fixture similar to other soft sources that cinematographers have been using forever.”

The fixture is DC powered and will operate on everything from a 12-Volt car battery and 14.4V Anton Bauer or IDX V-mount battery to a 24V camera battery. Mole Richardson is taking orders for MoleLED at NAB for delivery in June; fixtures are currently available in tungsten and daylight versions. The company is also previewing single LED boards, packaged in kits of six, whose small footprint is ideal for small set ups like car rigs and podium or dais lighting. “They connect back to one box for individual control and dimming,” says Royalty.

At the “other end of the spectrum” from LED lighting technology, and demonstrating the scope of Mole Richardson’s R&D, is the introduction of the 24K DayLite Fresnel, the largest and most powerful HMI fresnel on the market.

HMI fresnels have been capped at 18K for more than a decade. The new 24K is a result of “close collaboration” between Mole Richardson and Power Gem for the ballast and OSRAM Sylvania and Koto for the 24K double-ended lamp. Extensive thermal testing has enabled the fixture to remain the size of an 18K and be cooled through convection instead of fans or other exotic solutions. A new, highly-polished 11-inch reflector produces over 95 percent reflectivity and is designed to work with the larger arc gap of the 24K lamp.

With the 24K DayLite Fresnel “we have pushed the absolute boundary of what the 24-inch fresnel glass can physically take,” notes Royalty. “It’s going to take a lot more R&D to make the next leap.”

Mole Richardson's 24K DayLite Fresnel is the largest and most powerful HMI fresnel on the market.
The HDC-P1 is billed as the first Sony camera designed
from the ground up with S3D in mind.

Sony Expands HD Camera Products and Adds Stereoscopic 3D Enhancements

The HDC-P1 is billed as the first Sony camera designed from the ground up with S3D in mind.

Sony Electronics (pro.sony.com) is highlighting its full line of HD production technologies at NAB, including cameras, camcorders and switchers, as well as new technologies for stereoscopic 3D content creation and enhancements to existing products that allow them to fit a broader range of S3D applications.

The new HDC-P1, a full HD compact multi-purpose camera that’s capable of 2D and 3D operation when used in an S3D camera rig, is described as “the first Sony camera to be designed from the ground up with 3D in mind,” according to Rob Willox, director of Sony’s Content Creation group. It’s unique among POV-type cameras for combining 2/3-inch CCD technology and a two-disc filter servo in a small and lightweight design that delivers superb picture quality and performance.

“This camera satisfies a professional shooter’s need to combine high-resolution images with versatile performance,” says Willox. “As HD productions become more complex and the number of camera angles increase, flexible and multi-purpose products such as the HDC-P1 that can offer image quality comparable to studio cameras are in greater demand.”

The new camera integrates seamlessly with Sony’s HDC-1000 and HSC-300 series cameras and can be used in a range of unmanned and POV HD applications or as a companion camera in automated broadcast studios. It supports a range of recording formats, including 1080/50i, 59.94i and 720/50P, 59.94P.

Sony’s new HSC-300 and HXC-100 cameras are based on the proven performance of the HDC series studio cameras and use Sony’s digital triax transmission technology. The HSC-300 is compatible with Sony’s existing large lens adaptors and can be used with triax cable runs of up to 1,300 meters; the HXC-100 can be used for runs of up to 850 meters.

Both models feature a 2/3-inch Power HAD FX CCD with 2.2 million pixels and are switchable between 1080i and 720P 50/60Hz with 525i and 625 SD models available from the camera head and CCU.

The expanding family of XDCAM EX video production technologies has added two new camcorders for solid-state production.

The shoulder-mount PMW-350, Sony’s first 2/3-inch CMOS memory camcorder, features a DVCAM recording option and is also studio-configurable. The PMW-EX1R, the successor to Sony’s first entry into memory recording, adds DVCAM recording capability as well as an HDMI output and numerous enhancements directly resulting from customer feedback.

At NAB Sony also plans to feature the next generation of HDCAM SR production technology with new products and upgrades ranging from acquisition and storage to archive and production efficiency. In particular, the SRW-9000 camcorder will feature an upgrade path to 35mm imaging and file-based production.

Sony will also debut its MPE-200 3D Processor which provides a variety of digital adjustments to the stereo imaging of any camera that provides an HDSI output signal, allowing a similar control experience to mechanical servos. Planned future versions will also include lens tracking adjustments that will be lens dependent because of metadata requirements. Also, future versions will increase the adjustment capability of cameras compatible with Sony protocols.

Panasonic's AG-3DA1 is the world's first pro-quality, fully-integrated HD 3D camcorder with SD media card recording.
Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 is the world’s first pro-quality,
fully-integrated HD 3D camcorder with SD media card

Panasonic Headlines Stereoscopic 3D Camcorder and Expanded P2 Product Line

Panasonic (www.panasonic.com) will be moving forward on several fronts at NAB making headlines in the stereoscopic 3D arena and expanding its P2 solid-state memory card offerings.

Panasonic is taking orders for the AG-3DA1, the world’s first professional- quality, fully-integrated HD 3D camcorder with SD media card recording. Introduced at the International CES show in January, the AG-3DA1 is designed to democratize S3D production with a flexible, affordable, easy-to-use solution with solid-state reliability and workflow. It is expected to ship this fall.

“Up until now, 3D production for us has meant using our existing cameras and recorders in custom rigs which may require a couple of people to operate,” notes vice president of marketing Bob Harris. “Weighing in at just six pounds, the AG-3DA1 offers a lower-priced, integrated, simple-to-use alternative. It works just like a normal camcorder but with convergence control.”

The versatile AG-3DA1 uses SD memory cards and records 1080i and 720p; an HD-SDI output enables streaming into a switcher or recording onto an uncompressed recording system. “The fact that the camcorder is full HD opens up the market for it. People are really getting behind it; they’re excited about getting crews out and learning how to shoot compelling 3D content,” Harris reports.

In addition, Panasonic will introduce the AW-HE50 compact HD/SD integrated pan/tilt/zoom camera at the show. Its predecessor, the AW-HE100, is Panasonic’s first PTZ camera and is widely used in robotic broadcast applications.

“Some markets were looking for something more affordable than the HE100 so we have two versions of the HE50: one with an HDMI interface for videoconferencing systems, telepresence, and school production studios and the other with an HD-SDI interface for use in reality TV production or projects that need longer runs,” says Harris. “Our cameras are well known for extremely smooth, precise control so the HE50 is a natural for covering sports venues, too.”

Also making its NAB debut is the AG-MSU10 portable P2 media storage unit for fast, reliable back up of P2 content. Available in October, it eliminates the need for a computer or a large appliance to offload P2 footage in the field.

“Before, there really wasn’t an elegant solution” that handled that task, notes Harris. “You had to connect with your own hard drive or our Rapid Writer which is a bigger box. The AG-MSU10 is designed for the field, has slots for a P2 card and hard drive and operates at four-times realtime. You shoot, stick the P2 card into the slot, lay off the contents onto the hard drive and reuse the P2 card. Then you take the hard drive, which is increasing in capacity and decreasing in cost all the time, and edit from that.”

Panasonic’s AJ-PCD2 single-slot P2 card drive will be unveiled at NAB, as well. It provides fast, reliable video offloads to Macintosh and Windows desktop systems and laptops via USB.

“We still offer 5-slot drives which are great for people who need them,” says Harris. “But with 64-gigabyte cards available now, some customers were telling us they needed a single-slot drive at a lower price point.”

With P2 reaching its seventh anniversary, Panasonic is pleased to report that it has captured “the majority of the broadcast market and a strong share of the production market,” according to Harris. “P2 workflow products are now faster and more affordable than ever.”

Panasonic's AG-3DA1 is the world's first pro-quality, fully-integrated HD 3D camcorder with SD media card recording.
Autodesk Flame 2011 delivers true stereoscopic
3D finishing.

Autodesk Leverages VFX and 3D, Adds Support for Stereo 3D


At NAB, Autodesk (www.autodesk.com) will be introducing new versions of its creative finishing applications featuring tighter integration with its animation products and cross-product support for 3D stereoscopic finishing. “With the success of 3D films and the emergence of 3D in broadcast, most of our clients need to be prepared to deliver 3D stereoscopic content. The 2011 creative finishing releases deliver the tools that our clients depend on today with the stereoscopic capabilities to equip them for the challenges of stereoscopic 3D,” notes Marc Hamaker, product marketing manager for Autodesk Media & Entertainment.

Autodesk Flame 2011, the company’s flagship visual effects and finishing product, has always provided 3D design and VFX in an interactive application for creative finishing. “With Flame 2011, Autodesk is extending the 3D compositing toolset of Flame to deliver true stereoscopic 3D finishing in a workflow that compromises neither the artistic nor interactive experience that Flame is known for,” says Hamaker.

NAB marks the first major tradeshow since Autodesk launched Smoke for Mac OS X in mid-December. “The availability of Smoke software on the Mac makes the product more accessible to all tiers of postproduction,” he explains. “It has generated a lot of buzz. We’ve had thousands of trial downloads since launch. Smoke on the Mac provides an adjacent finishing workflow to creative cut editorial applications like Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer,” Hamaker says. “With Smoke, artists have a single application that can deliver finishing tools ranging from conform to paint to design and even 3D visual effects.”

Autodesk Lustre 2011 now offers enhanced stereoscopic color grading capabilities, including exchange of stereoscopic timelines with Flame and Smoke in 3D finishing workflows. “We’ve tried to make sure our tools are on the leading-edge of technology. When you combine the enhanced stereoscopic grading tools in Lustre 2011 with the new stereoscopic VFX and editorial finishing tools in Flame and Smoke, we think you have an unmatched set of tools for delivering outstanding stereo content,” he reports.

The company’s 3D software product line will also usher in some innovations at NAB. Autodesk Maya 2011, now available for the Snow Leopard 64-bit release of Mac OS X, features enhanced tools for character animation, a new user interface, high-performance viewport display of large scenes, new 3D editorial capabilities, integrated color management and improved rotoscoping.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 offers enhancements to its modeling, texturing and animation toolsets that significantly increase productivity. A new node-based material editor, high-quality hardware renderer and full-featured compositor make creating photoreal images easier than ever.

Autodesk Softimage 2011 features a host of new rendering and animation tools, including advanced shading architecture, an innovative rigging paradigm and the automated Face Robot facial animation toolset.

Autodesk Mudbox 2011, for 3D sculpting and texturing, offers powerful new tools for helping deform and pose models plus image adjustment brushes and blend modes for paint layers, vector displacement map extraction, the ability to create higher-quality turntables and enhanced file transfer with leading 2D and 3D applications. Mudbox 2011 is also available for the 64-bit release of Mac OS X.

And Autodesk MotionBuilder 2011, a real-time virtual production system, provides improved interoperability with Maya 2011 and 3ds Max 2011, integrating more smoothly into production pipelines.

Autodesk will offer a comprehensive set of these tools in its Entertainment Creation Suites 2011. The Suites bundle either Maya or 3ds Max with MotionBuilder and Mudbox at a cost savings that may amount to more than 35 percent compared to purchasing the software individually.

AC Keith Hueffmeier (left) and DP Eric Branco shooting
the feature Hypothermia with RED ONE on location
at Great Sacandaga Lake, New York. Hypothermia is a
Dark SkyFilms/Glass Eye Pix production in association
with Offhollywood Pictures which also supplied the
Copyright Brent Kunkle, Glass Eye Pix

RED Showcases Mysterium-X Sensor and RED Rocket Accelerator Card

The mantra of RED Digital Cinema (www.red.com) has always been different from that of manufacturers whose “camera products quickly obsolete so you have to buy a new camera to get the latest and greatest stuff,” says Ted Schilowitz, RED’s first employee. “It’s not just a strategic talking point with us. We’re now offering a sensor upgrade program for RED ONE, and customers are reaping the benefit.”

RED is upgrading users’ Mysterium sensor to the affordable Mysterium-X (MX) that has a greater dynamic range than its predecessor and a lower noise source. “It’s already being used successfully worldwide,” Schilowitz reports. “Steven Soderbergh is shooting with the MX as is David Fincher. The industry at large is adopting the MX quickly.”

In fact, the industry at large is embracing RED ONE in a big way for motion pictures, commercials and television. On the feature side alone, El Secreto de Sus Ojos, the Argentinian picture that just copped an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film was shot with RED as was the Oscar-nominee for Best Picture, District 9, and this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Winter’s Bone. “The amount of work for RED around the world is proving that the camera is exceeding what we dreamed it would be,” says Schilowitz. Used with stereoscopic 3D rigs, RED ONE also has some 40-50 3D features to its credit.

Additions to the RED camera lineup are expected to ship soon. The 5K RED Epic will be released this spring with the 3K Scarlet, “Epic’s little brother,” due to bow this summer. Scarlet, with its attractive price point, is already being hailed as “an independent filmmaker’s dream,” Schilowitz points out. “They say it will change everything for them.”

Keeping in mind that RED offers a turnkey production and postproduction solution, the company recently introduced its RED Rocket hardware accelerator card for Macs and PCs. The new card enables rendering and processing in realtime or faster-than-realtime on a single computer. “All the smart post houses have implemented it as well as on-set guys,” notes Schilowitz. “When RED Rocket is used on a set, you can leave with processed, read-to-edit files at the end of the shoot day.”

RED’s post workflow, whether for Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid or Adobe Premiere, is mature and functioning smoothly, he reports. “Any way you want to cut your material, we have the most refined and logical workflow for postproduction and DI.”

December 17, 2012