- NAB 2017 is a bit special to me.
This is my 25th NAB. I have only missed two days (due to my grandfather’s passing) in the 25 years. When I started coming in 1992, I was a senior in college. One day, a bunch of us were discussing what equipment to buy to start our own projects and our businesses, S-VHS or Hi-8. The chief engineer of the campus studio, who overheard the conversation, told us that none of us should be allowed to graduate without going to NAB. He told us that is where you need to go to get all of your questions answered. Back then there was no internet to do research. I packed up and headed out to Vegas for my first time.
As I made my way past the banks of portable pay phones, (back then only the top execs could afford the two-pound cell phones), I marveled at the interesting exhibits, then I found out that was just the lobby. I wasn’t on the show floor yet. Once I found my way there — a whole other story due to not having a properly processed badge — I found out that if your badge says “Student,” no one will talk to you. Apparently students are all “starving” and don’t have money.
I did learn a lot, though. I used to call my dad every night after the show closed and tell him about all of the cool new things I saw. He would say to me, “Cool, yes. But do we really need it? If we get it, how long will it take to make it pay for itself and make us money?” Even though he passed away over 10 years ago, I still mentally have these conversations with him. The answers are pretty similar to the ROI product reviews I have been doing for StudioDaily for the last 11 years. I’m honored to be covering the show for StudioDaily once again.
Without further delay, here are some of the cool products I discovered on NAB 2017 day 1:
HP DreamColor Z31x Studio Display (4K) This new display from HP to be released later this year has some amazing features never seen before in a studio reference display — or probably any other display. It has built in calibration, no additional hardware needed. It has a small calibration tool that automatically folds down from the top of the display to make sure the colors are true to spec. Displays must warm up for 50 minutes in order to get the truest picture, so HP built in a programmable timer that can not only turn on the Z31x 50 minutes before you arrive at work but also program the calibration process to start after so many hours of use. As this display may be used with more than one computer, it has a built in KVM switch so you can control multiple computers with one keyboard and mouse through this reference monitor. Its sub-$4000 price range will probably shake up the world of expensive 4K reference monitors.
HP Zbook 17 G4 HP’s line-up of mobile workstations keeps getting more and more powerful, and can easily rival desktop workstations. CPUs range from a basic Intel Core i5 to a 3.1 GHz Quad-core (8-thread) Xeon, with up to 64 GB RAM and up to an Nvidia P5000 with 16 GB of discrete graphics. The Zbook 17 G4 is also available, with the optional DreamColor display and touch display options. Prices vary depending on options.
FeiyuTech G5 Gimbal This action-cam carrying gimbal has a number of unique features that I haven’t seen in other similar gimbals. a) For set-up (and multiple other uses) it has a mini tripod built into the grip. b) A button on the grip enables and disables the rotation correction. For instance, if you are in a car, and it is on, and you want to turn the camera from looking ahead to looking to the driver on the left, the gimbal will keep the camera facing forward. If you turn it off, it will only correct for the up and down motion and swinging motion and you can turn it to the driver. c) It is rugged. On Sunday, the FeiyuTech took a number of press off-roading in fast off-road vehicles. I was holding one, shooting laps while going over jumps. On landing, the force of the impact of hitting the ground caused me to slam the gimbal into the unpadded tubular roof support. The gimbal continued to function without issue. d) You can customize the gimabal’s function via an app. For instance, if you want there to be a bit more or less camera shake, you can program the gimbal’s motors for more or less motion compensation.
Yi 4K+ action cam This long-anticipated action cam takes quality to a new level with the ability to record 4K at 60p. This bests the industry’s most widely recognized action cam, the GoPro 5, which tops out at 4K 30p. The Yi is also less expensive, at around $350 to the GoPro 5 Black at $399, and uses the same high quality Sony sensor. Additionally, it can be controlled with a smartphone app and can take 12-megapixel stills.
Sony PXW-X70 4K Software Upgrade The Sony PXW-X70 was released in 2014 as a 1080p HD camcorder. It has a one-inch Exmor CMOS sensor, dual XLR audio inputs, a 12x Zeiss lens and HDMI and HD-SDI out. Now you can purchase a software upgrade that will give this full-featured, lightweight and compact camera 4K 24p/25p/30p recording modes and 4K live out through HDMI for $499. For all the benefits that 4K gives you, even if you’re still working in HD, it’s probably worth the investment.
Sennheiser MKE 2 This microphone from Sennheiser was developed as an audio solution for the normally horrible sound recorded by action cams. GoPro worked with Sennheiser to make a waterproof microphone that could attach to the GoPro Hero 4. The microphone features a windscreen that looks fluffy but is actually quite stiff and helps the mic work under water. Right now the MKE 2 will only work with the GoPro 4 series. The mic is available for $199.
Blackmagic Design Davinci Resolve 14 Beta Integrating their latest acquisition, audio company Fairlight, Resolve now has the ability to do a full audio mix without additional audio editing applications. It will also integrate with Fairlight’s audio accelerator card and new console for a more hands on approach. Performance enhancements will make a number of color-correction and effects 10 x faster. The basic version is free and in beta now; the Resolve Studio upgrade is $299.
Blackmagic Design ATEM Television Studio Pro HD This is BMD’s first switcher and console in one unit. The a price is less than half the cost of their basic switcher console (switcher not included). It has four each of HDMI and HD-SDI inputs for a total of eight inputs available at once and has a top resolution of 1080 60p. It can also be controlled with a computer interface as previous models. At an MSRP of $2,295, these are revolutionary features, considering what control surfaces usually sell for.