To someone interested in video gear, the annual NAB Show is always like being a kid in a candy store: Every way you turn, there is something impossibly enticing that attracts your attention. As much fun as that is, the constant mental overload can be both exhausting and bewildering.
So where do you start? No two people attending the 2014 NAB Show will note the same highlights, so I will give you some of mine and let you decide if they are of interest to your needs and interests.
The strongest impression I got from the NAB was the seemingly inexorable move of video to the so-called Internet “cloud.” Cloud-related technology and applications were everywhere, and much of it is directly relevant to government video operations.
Not only is the cloud a place to store content, it can also be used for distribution, analysis and education. If you have multiple locations that need to share the same content, using a cloud application could be a convenient solution.
Adam Knight of Red Element Studios tries out the Blackmagic Studio Camera.
One of the nagging concerns is the security of cloud-based services. Sitting in on a company’s NAB press conference, I asked the CEO if he would be willing to store his Social Security number and home address information in the cloud. Without hesitation, he responded “yes.”
Most of the companies that announced cloud-based technology and applications are relative newcomers, such as Elemental and Brightcove. However, there were many old-line video and technology companies with cloud announcements, such as Grass Valley, Cisco and Adobe. (Of course, Adobe moved its popular editing and image processing products to cloud-only services in 2013.)
If the pulse of the 2014 NAB Show is any indication, the cloud is here to stay. All that remains is a couple of killer apps to get those on the sidelines to stick their heads in the cloud.
Another big trend at the NAB is the popularity of 4K cameras and monitors. Companies that previously had 4K cameras, such as Panasonic, Canon, JVC, Blackmagic Design and Sony, announced new 4K cameras to fit new niches and markets. AJA Video, which didn’t previously have any cameras, showed a 4K production camera called the “Cion” that was a hit at the NAB, packing dense crowds around the couple of units on display.
Lisa Faiman was JVC’s on-stage presenter for the GY-HM890 camera.
JVC, Canon, Panasonic and Sony all showed new cameras of interest to many government video facilities.
JVC demonstrated new connection possibilities with its GY-HM890U. The camera is a three-CMOS HD unit that records to solid-state memory, while providing WiFi or LTE modem streams. (The LTE modem is optional.) The GY-HM890U features a removable 20x Fujinon auto-focus lens, four channels of audio, dual memory card recording at up to 50 Mbps.
At Canon’s booth, the XF205 camcorder was on target for government applications. It features a 20x zoom lens with three control rings (zoom, focus and on that can be assigned to functions such as iris), image stabilization, infrared capabilities, MXF/MP4 dual recording at various data rates, four-channel audio recording and WiFi connectivity, as well timecode and genlock connections.
Panasonic had its new AJ-PX270, a P2 HD handheld camcorder with AVC-Ultra recording that provides high quality that’s editor-friendly. With three 1/3-inch CMOS imaging sensors and 4G/LTE connection capability, the AJ-PX270 supplies 10-bit, 4:2:2-sampled video at a variety of data rates that provide considerably higher quality than eight-bit 4:2:0 codecs often found in this price range.
Rushworks’ PT-Mini pan/tilt head was instrumental in capturing a pose by Stephanie Furstahl at Rushworks’ booth.
Sony came to the NAB Show with its PXW-X180 XDCAM camcorder, featuring three 1/3-inch HD Exmor CMOS sensors and a new 25x zoom Sony G Lens with 26 mm wide angle. The PXW-X180 records in MPEG HD422 at 50 Mbps, as well as MPEG HD420 at 35 Mbps AVCHD and DV. In addition to recording on professional SxS memory cards, the camcorder can record on XQD cards, SD cards and Memory Sticks with the use of an optional adapter.
If you already have inexpensive "prosumer" cameras but need a way to remotely control them, Rushworks introduced the PT-Mini pan/tilt head. With a small camera mounted on the PT-Mini, it can be panned, tilted, zoomed and focused remotely, making for an affordable and flexible system using gear you already have.
For video producers looking to get high-end camera moves on a government budget, there were lots of options from remote-controlled helicopters to innovative camera support systems. A terrific example is the Libec Allex, a system that includes a tripod, pan/tilt head and 30-inch long slider for smooth camera moves.
The 2014 NAB Show was a smorgasbord of tasty video treats, many of them perfect for operations at the government level.