Biggest trends at NAB: 4K (everywhere) and gimbals

NAB 2014 in Las Vegas once again managed to surprise the 98,000 professionals from 159 countries who attended with its spectacular number of exhibits and enormous variety of new and updated products. 

Two trends were clearly evident and illustrated what the industry is interested in and moving towards. Needless to say, one was 4K. You couldn’t take more than a few steps without seeing the word “4K” on a banner.

Indeed, almost all of the new cameras, monitors, and postproduction hardware were targeted at 4K users and workflow. It’s clear that 4K is here to stay.

The second trend should come as no surprise, given the incredible popularity of the Movi camera stabilizer at last year’s NAB. Brushless gimbals were everywhere: 2-axis, 3-axis, handheld and shoulder mounted. It’s clear the gimbal has made an impact, but it’s unclear how long it will last. It’s obvious the design is getting more refined; they’re holding more weight and becoming cleaner.

Daufenbach Cameras' Andy JaroszA plethora of new cameras were introduced from Panasonic, JVC, Blackmagic, and even AJA.  All the new cameras are designed to be 4K native, and most of them can shoot to a RAW format. Blackmagic and AJA offered the two most notable.

 Blackmagic’s URSA camera does away with their old form factor and brings in a more traditional style of camera. With its huge 10-inch viewfinder and separate information LCD, they’ve clearly spent a lot of time improving their design.

This is a huge step forward for Blackmagic, who in the past were criticized for their unergonomic design. The camera has the same performance as the 4K Production camera, but with special attention paid to cooling.

The AJA Cion surprised everybody. Taking a more traditional approach to body design, it boasts 4K RAW at 120FPS with 12 stops of dynamic range. With its metallic raised logo and leader shoulder pad, it certainly has style. Time will tell if users prefer the AJA or the Blackmagic line of cameras.  But one thing is clear: shooters have never had more options for digital cinema cameras.

Surprisingly quiet this year were the heavy cinema hitters like Arri and RED. Arri showed off its more affordable Amira camera, aimed at lower-budget films that don’t need the RAW and higher resolution options of the Alexa line.

The Amira features a rotating filter wheel and on-camera audio knobs that will make ENG-style shooting much easier.

RED was equally as quiet, pushing their Dragon line as the “one” camera that can do everything. With the introduction of their broadcast module, the EPIC can work well in cinema, photography, and live studio situations.  

They took a special interest in pushing photography, dedicating much of their booth to stills taken with the Dragon.

Andy Jarosz (andy@daufenbachcamera.com) is a rental technician at Daufenbach Camera. From an early age he has repaired camera equipment. He has also worked with NASA to develop remote camera functions for their systems. 

 

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