From the Avid to the Ursa, Notable Price Cuts and Budget-Sparing New Products at NAB 2015

The big story at NAB is always workflow, but everyone knows that money and efficiency are inextricably linked. The latest and greatest technology is undeniably exciting — but so are the price breaks that can bring high-end gear within reach of a budget-conscious production. Here are some of the price cuts and other impressive deals that caught our eye at NAB 2015.

Assimilate Scratch 8.3


With early support for high-resolution finishing on Red Digital Cinema cameras, Assimilate Scratch was one of the original leaders in 4K workflow. Competition is heavy and desktop computing power is increasing, which means that high-end software like Scratch can be had for a fraction of what it once fetched. At just over $50/month for powerful software that once demanded tens of thousands of dollars, it almost feels like stealing.

Was: $5,000/year
Now: $650/year

Atomos "Bare Bones" Shogun, Ninja 2, Ninja Blade and Samurai Blade


Atomos is trying to save filmmakers some bones with new "bare bones" versions of its recording systems. The savings aren't huge, but for users who already have Atomos accessories in their toolbox, the new reduced prices makes it less expensive to get outfitted with multiple recording systems. A complete "battle ready" system will be available at the original $1,995 price, but the "bare bones" Shogun comes stripped down to an SSD media case, AC power supply, and soft carrying case for $1,695. At the low end of the line-up, a bare-bones Ninja 2 sells for just $395.

Was: $1,995 for Shogun
Now: $1,695 for Shogun Bare Bones

Avid Media Composer First


Avid isn't giving away the farm — it's clear that pro editors will still need the full-blown Media Composer Software package to get any work done — but it is looking to raise its profile, especially among younger editors who may gravitate naturally to Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro, with a feature-limited version of its standard-bearing NLE that stores its projects (but not media) in the cloud.

Was: $1,299 for a perpetual license or $49.99/month for Media Composer Software
Now: Free feature-limited version

Blackmagic Design Ursa


Blackmagic Design solidified its reputation as the most prolific camera manufacturer out there, introducing new designs including the Blackmagic Ursa Mini as well as a new version of the full-sized Ursa with a 4.6K Super 35 sensor. At the same time, it cut the price of its existing Ursa models by $1,000, making them a better deal for shooters who don't feel like they'll miss those extra pixels. 

Was: $5,995 (EF) or $6,495 (PL)
Now: $4,995 (EF) or $5,495 (PL)

DJI Ronin M


If you've had your eye on DJI's popular Ronin stabilizing gimbal but balked at its weight, the new and less expensive Ronin M may be the model you're looking for—especially if you're just looking to fly a smaller camera like a mirrorless or a DSLR. The Ronin M weighs just five pounds (compare to the more-than-nine-pound Ronin) and can carry up to eight pounds of camera (versus the 16 pound payload of its predecessor). Factor in a price cut that should bring the Ronin M below the $2,000 mark, and you've got a product that makes more sense to more DPs.

Was: $2,499-$2,999 for the original Ronin before NAB
Now: $1,999 (per No Film School)



JVC has carved out a piece of the market selling cleverly designed cameras that aim for a strong balance between performance and pricing. Their cameras may not make the prettiest pictures, but their clients don't need footage that passes muster in a high-end DI suite while an A-list director strokes his chin thoughtfully and asks for more teal and orange. For those customers, JVC's highly affordable 4KCAM line-up, first announced in 2014, has finally arrived — with modest price cuts, to boot. The GY-LS300, with a Super 35 sensor and MFT lens mount, is the flashy one, but the other two are strong offerings at even lower prices.

Was: Announced at $4,450, $2,995, and $2,495
Now: Shipping at $4,395, $2,995, and $2,195

Pixar RenderMan (noncommercial)


Life got more interesting for aspiring animators with the announcement last year that Pixar's RenderMan would be free for noncommercial use. But it might help out working artists, too, who will be allowed to use a free copy of RenderMan at home for personal learning or to try out ideas and techniques for a paying gig—you just can't use it to generate the final content for a commercial project. If you create media for a church or other nonprofit organization, the rules get murkier—see Pixar's FAQ for more details.

Was: $495 per license
Now: Free for noncommercial use only