NAB 2009

By Oli Laperal, Jr.
Film and Digital Times Asian Bureau Chief

In today’s economic climate, many attendees carefully balanced the cost of trekking to Las Vegas for the NAB show, versus going online for information.  Although there is no doubt that information from the web is expansive, there is no substitute for the real thing,  the keynote addresses, conferences and workshops, as well as direct discussions with researchers, engineers, and CTOs of various companies.  This year’s NAB attendance of about 83,900 saw a decline of 20% from last year’s 104,000+ attendees, but the people who were there were the decision-makers.
Under strict NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements), Film and Digital Times had to go to great lengths not to reveal many details until the first day of NAB.  Publisher and Editor Jon Fauer considered hiring armed guards and armored vehicles to transport the magazine to Las Vegas for distribution on Day One to comply with agreed NDAs. See Film and Digital Times’ extensive NAB April-July 2009 Triple Issue 22-24.  At 96 pages, this is FDT’s most informative and voluminous issue thus far.

Aaton Penelope 2 perf / 3 perf 35 mm film camera is now in full production, delivering and shooting on major motion pictures.
At last, cinematographers can have video assist in full HD resolution. ARRI introduced the HD-IVS for Arricams and Arriflex 435 Xtreme film cameras.  The new 1920 x1080 CCD sensor with a 10 bit processor employs a unique ground glass grain cancellation software to yield excellent HD video assist images, without ground glass grain.
ARRI showed the MB-28 mattebox, ideal for the Optimo 24-290 mm large zoom, a new PL mount director’s viewfinder, and a wireless lens control system.
ARRI showed the D-21 HD/3K digital cinematography camera.  To date, over 100 units have been delivered.  The D-21 is capable of data recording in ARRIRAW, as well as MScope Anamorphic format.
ARRI expands film-style camera accessories for various digital cameras with the ARRI MMB-1 matte box, new follow focus, base plates and accessories.

Vision Research rolled out the Phantom v640 with digital on-board magazine that does HD at 2800 FPS.
P+S Technik Weisscam HS-2 high speed camera is an improvement of the HS-1. The HS-2 does 2K at 1500 FPS.
The SI-2K Digital Cinema Camera got instant fame with the huge success of Academy Award favorite and smash hit “Slumdog Millionaire” which was shot about 60% in SI-2K and the remaining 40% on Fuji 35 mm film.
The P+S Technik IMS (Interchangeable Mount System) is a nice manufacturer-agnostic lens mount for various cameras that welcomes Nikon, Canon, PL, BNCR, Leica, Pentax and other popular lens mounts.
P+S Technik promotes 3D filming with the 3D Stereo Rig, as well as a comprehensive 2 to 3 day 3D workshop conducted worldwide.
Panasonic showed material from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and discussed plans for the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  P2 “e” cards now come in 64 GB.
It was the year of PL Lenses. Eleven manufacturers showed different sets of PL mount prime and zoom lenses for 35 mm film and single-sensor digital cinematography. It will be interesting to see how the adjectives used match the reality to come. Many were presented as “affordable, low cost, film/digital, lightweight, and new.” Others held to higher ground, sparing no expense. The story will be continued; meanwhile here they are, listed alphabetically:
Angenieux Optimo Rouge cost effective zoom line includes 30-80 mm  and  16-42 mm T2.8  zoom lenses.

Carl Zeiss Compact Primes come in 18, 21, 25, 28, 35, 50 and 85 mm in T3.6 to T1.5.   They utilize a 14 blade iris, cover a 24 x 36 mm image, come in a new robust cine style housing,  and have a blue band. Available July 2009.
Cooke introduces a new line of Cooke Panchro prime lenses.  Focal lengths are 18, 25, 32, 50, 75, and 100 mm.  All at T 2.8, in Super 35 mm format.  Expect these prime cuts later this year.
Focus Optics (USA) is Stuart Rabin’s company, and they showed the “Ruby Series” wide angle short zoom.  14-24 mm T2.8.  These are rehoused Nikon stills short zoom lens, and weigh only 3 lbs. Available Aug 2009.

Fujinon showed 4 new very high-end zoom lenses for 16:9 format: 18-85 mm T2.0, 14.5-45mm T2.0, 24-180mm T2.6 and 75-400mm T2.8-T4.0.
IB/E Optics (Germany) Made by Schneider.  14 mm prime lens in T1.8. Other prime lenses coming are from 10 to 180 mm, as well as a 12-24 mm zoom. Coming July 2009.
Illumina (LOMO Russia) is sold by Luma Tech Inc USA.  S35 high speed prime lens set comes in 18, 25, 35, 50 and 85 mm.   Illumina also has a S16 high speed PL prime lens set: 8, 9.5, 12, 16, 25 & 50 mm in T1.3.
P+S Technik’s 35 Digital lenses in PL lens mount are Zeiss ZF (Nikon) still camera  primes remounted. These come in 18 mm T3.5, 25 mm T2.8, 35 mm T2.0, 50 mm T1.4 and 85 mm T1.4.
Rebel (Germany) prime lenses are for non-mirror reflex cameras, and will come in 25, 35, 50, 75 & 95 mm. T1.9.
RED Digital showed 25, 35, 50, 85 & 100 mm prime lenses in T1.9.  No, they are definitely not Cooke glass or Cooke mechanics, despite rumors.
UniQoptics (USA) showed several sets of fine looking prime lenses: 18, 25, 35, 50, 85 and 100 mm in T1.9.  These signature primes were  designed and manufactured in California by a team of optical experts formerly associated with Century Precision Optics, NASA, Panavision, Leitz of Canada, etc.  Well respected lens wizards Kenji Suematsu and Peter Repick, along with with optical designer Hyperion Development LLC, are behind UniQoptics.   These prime lenses are optimized for full frame 35 mm motion picture film and digital. I was personally invited to see the primes lenses up close and personal as they were projected on a precision lens projector.  The results I saw were very good
ARRI’s new Master Prime Macro 100 mm T2.0 does not have a “low cost” sticker, but that’s what you’d expect from a Master Prime with exceptional close up quality, and 1:1 magnification ratio.  I hope to see an expansion of this new line for macro cinematography.
UniQoptics, P.E. Denz and IB/E Optics showed precision PL mounted instruments to  check camera flange focal distance of exactly 52.00 mm.

ARRI showed the “True Blue” lighting line in tungsten 1K, 2K & 5K, as well as in the HMI line at 1.2K, 1.8K, 2.5K and 4K.

The new ARRI M18 uses a new 1.8K HMI bulb, and is the brightest HMI to plug into a 20 Amp 120 VAC US wall socket.  They use a new designed multi faceted reflector, like the one used on the Arrimax 18K HMI, which combines the punch of a PAR, without lenses and with a focusing mechanism. Look to the summer of 2009 for availability.
ARRI Pax Panel is an advanced LED based lighting system that utilizes Leo modules. Light engines capable of 3200K or 5600K color temps.  The Arri Background Lighting Module is LED based lighting for cyclorama, screens, and rear illumination.  Arri’s LED Caster Series is meant to provide single shadow rendering and adjustments over a range of correlated color temps.
Lite-panels expanded their 12” x 12” LED units with “Bi-Color” dual Kelvin temp models, as well as “Bi-Focus” dual spot/flood units.

ARRI offers new options for ArriCube DI process. These include 3D LUTs,  X-Rite Hubble colorimeter for monitor and projector measurement.
Dark Energy’s powerful post software for 35 mm film is to retime, degrain, convert, optimize, re-touch and clean up. It is now part of the ARRI’s line up of post tools.
P+S Technik’s Steady Frame is a universal format 2K film scanner with improved performance and speed.
Western Digital 3.5” SATA drives stores up to 2 terabytes (TB) per drive.

N.H.K. of Japan showed “Super High Vision” cameras, recorders, 400” giant display and live broadcast in 8K (7680 x 4320) with 22.2 multi channel surround sound.
They also showed dual Stereo 3D (with and without glasses).
URCF. The Ultra Realistic Communication Forum discussed:
The broadcasting industry in 8K.
3D video technology
Super surround sound technology
Multi sensory communication technology (including scent)
Perception and transmission technology of human affection and sensibility.

N.I.C.T.  Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communication Technology showed “Video and Audio that is no longer a dream:”
Uncomplicated looking 3D images.
Glasses-free large 3D display
100 million+ pixels, true high definition.
See in 3D, hear, feel and touch.  Multi-Sensory Interaction System. Using 3D glasses and while holding an electronic pen in mid air, we can follow the contour of a 3D object such as a enlarged coin, hear & feel as the pen we hold scratches the coin, flips the coin, taps on it and we hear the sound, etc.  All this human sensory is generated although the pen we hold is in mid air!
3D, Graspable. Cubic Auto-stereoscopic Display  gCubic
3D Audio.  76+speakers.
Real Time Electronic Holography
Stereoscopic 3D feature film and production was a hot topic at many conferences and sessions.  The Digital Cinema conference, as well as the Engineering conferences, discussed many aspects of 3D cinema.  There are some twenty high profile 3D feature films scheduled for release in 2009.  3D for homes is not too distant. Imax  theaters have 371 3D installations today.
AMC theaters announced it is converting all its theaters, numbering over 4500, with Sony 4K projectors.

As NAB draws to a close, I remember Charles Darwin’s famous quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

1 Response:

  1. Ben Cain says:

    Great post. Thanks! I wish I could have been there this year. Definitely an exciting time to be working in this business.

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