NAB’s Thursday NAB is always a short day, but I had a few appointments and time to walk around and see anything that didn’t have a PR person to try and reel me in.
Izotope RX7 Advanced. This company makes an audio editor, plug-ins and standalone programs to improve problem audio. I actually bought an effects pack to deal with some problem audio I was editing. New for this year we are seeing an and improved set of tools in RX7 Advanced that I can see being very popular in the post-production world. They include Dialogue Contour, which allows you to easily change intonation and inflection in dialog clips. I have been waiting for Dialogue De-reverb for a long time — there is nothing worse than getting back to the studio and finding that your audio has unintended reverb or echo that you didn’t hear on location, and this tool will use AI to remove the unwanted audio. An improved De-rustle is also included to fix the unintended sounds you get when you place a lavalier mic under clothing that rubs against the mic head. Improved Dialogue Isolate extracts dialog from noisy background noise. This can come in handy, especially if you regularly need to record in less than studio environments. MSRP: $1199
Izotope Spire Studio. This is a portable recording studio, about the size of a couple stacked cans of tuna. It can be used for music or recording a podcast. It records audio to an Android or iOS device, where you can edit and mix with the Spire app. The hardware features two combo XLR/1/4-inch inputs, a built-in studio-quality mic, and the Soundcheck feature, which will listen to your performance for 10 seconds and set ideal recording levels, whether you’re using the on-board mic or plugging in an instrument. MSRP: $349-$399.
HP Z8 G4 and Z6 G4 Workstations. New Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Optane DC Persistent Memory technology are in the HP Z6 and Z8 G4. The HP Z8 G4 Workstation can now be powered by up to 56 processing cores and up to 3 TB of high-speed memory, can run complex 3D simulations, and can handle advanced machine learning algorithms. The slightly smaller HP Z6 G4 Workstation is also updated for real-time 8k video editing and rendering, Configurations start at $3395.20 for the Z8 and $2727.11 for the Z6.
Deity Connect. Deity Microphones popped into the microphone market a couple years ago with shotgun mics. At NAB they launched their new digital wireless mic system. It is sold in a set that consists of a receiver and two transmitters only. Its internal rechargeable battery can run 10 hours at full power. The transmitter features multiple RF power outputs (10mw, 25mw, 50mw, 100mw, AUTO), 75Hz and 150Hz low-cut filters, boost audio frequencies 7Khz – 20Khz, assign user IDs to each transmitter, one-inch OLED display, screen and button lock, 24bit/48Khz, uses standard locking 3.5mm lavaliers. The receiver features Twin True Diversity antenna arrays for a quad antenna setup, USB-C rechargeable, dual isolated channels, sound bag/DSLR friendly ergonomic, remote control of every audio adjustment on each transmitter, three output modes (balanced XLR, DSLR blended, and stereo), and user updatable firmware. MSRP: $669
Now that NAB 2019 is over, I can say the “big thing” at the show was 8K. We all knew it was coming. Japanese broadcaster NHK is planning on broadcasting the 2020 Olympics in 8K and Sharp Electronics showed the $77K camera that they developed for it. (This year they also showed an 8K camera that would sell for under $5K.) 8K TVs have been available for a few months now, but for a premium price — and no one has 8K content or delivery yet. 4K has been around the production realm for six or seven years and is working its way into homes due to the availability of name-brand 55” UHD 4K HDR TVs for less then $600. Inexpensive 4K consumer camcorders are also available for as little as $600. The question is: Having just worked 4K into homes, will consumers jump into 8K?
As far as production, I see 8K as a tool that gives editors more ways to re-frame a scene in post for an HD or 4K delivery. In the Samsung booth, where I was hearing all about 8K imaging and digital signage, in order to show the quality of one of their displays, they had a camera on a tripod shooting an 8K display that was showing backgrounds. If you stood in front of the display, it was so good that it looked like a green-screen shot when displayed on the 8K monitor on the opposite wall. It looked really good. But upon inspection of the camera on the tripod, I discovered that it wasn’t the latest 8k or 4K model. It was a 10-year-old Sony HVR-Z5U 1080i/p camera HDV camera being upscaled to 8K. What it says to me is that, if you want to be on the bleeding edge of 8K, 8K cameras are available now from Sharp, Red and Panavision — if you can afford them. At this year’s NAB, 4K cameras were still all the rage, with all the major manufacturers offering models for both cinematic production as well as more ENG/videography style work. The Panasonic AG-CX350 and JVC GY-HC500 are full-featured 4K ENG cameras are available under $4000 (see my Day 1 and Day 2 reports). If they were upscaled to 8K, I’d bet they would look better than the Sony HVR-Z5U.
Will TV stations that just retooled for HD 10-15 years ago, and possibly recently 4K, jump into 8K? I doubt it. It may be the “resolution that went too far.” Outside of the technical infrastructure required to deal with the bigger file sizes — new switchers, routers, cameras, etc — there are also more human issues. Actors and actresses will need to spend more time in the make-up chair, as the detail in 8K will be brutal on their complexions. If they need too much makeup, they will also look bad. It will probably mean big business for plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills.
On the other side of the spectrum, I recently spoke to someone who produces video for social media. They have almost stopped using traditional video cameras, replacing them with his iPhone on a gimbal. He crops the footage at a 1:1 aspect ratio for Facebook. As far as the whole under-34-year-old generation out there that gets all their media and entertainment on a 5-6-inch phone screen, 8K won’t mean much to them.
I will let the market decide. For 95% of my clients, my 10-year-old 1080i Sony HVR-S270U and Sony HVR-Z7U are fine. No complaints. I started using a Blackmagic Design Video Assist ProRes recorder with them for my convenience — to avoid dealing with FAT 32 file limitations, not because of quality issues. For the 5% of the time I need 4K, I have the Blackmagic Design Ursa, Canon CX10, and various action cams such as the GoPro Hero 4, 5, and 6 and a Yi 4K+. When the clients request 4K, or I determine the project needs it, I use those. If my clients need something else, I will consider buying or renting the capability then.