Oli at NAB 2011

Sony’s theme was “Believe Beyond HD.” The Digital Cinema Society’s seminar was titled, “3D, 4K and beyond.” We saw plenoptic lenses selectively adjusting focus within a scene. We saw the GoPro 3D camera on a model helicopter. NAB 2011 was well beyond HD.

Attendance was up, along with activity on the show floor.  It could be a reflection of a better economy or unfreezing of bank loans.

Cameras of  4K and beyond seemed ubiquitous: Sony F-65, JVC, ViewPlus 4K at BandPro, Red Epic 5K, Astrodesign…

Several stereoscopic 3D channels are airing or about to air, all day long, all in 3D.  BSkyB in the UK, ESPN-3D, and 3net (Sony, Imax, Discovery) are all-3D channels.

Two ARRI Alexa M cameras on 3D Rig

James Cameron and Vince Pace gave the opening keynote. They both see 3D as here to stay, and are partnering with ARRI on the upcoming Alexa M digital camera. They get first dibs on Alexa M cameras, whose camera heads are separate from the bodies, connected by tether, thus making it useful for lightweight and smaller 3D rigs.

The Content Theater had multiple sessions of popular 3D films and documentaries with top crews providing commentary. We saw some really good 3D this year.

Cameras and Lenses.

Sony charged to the top of the hill with the CineAlta F65 and its way-greater than 4K (pushing 8K) sensor. Many believe that oversampling the resolution is a must, to achieve very good down-rezzed images.  F65 records to onboard solid state 1 TB SRMemory cards. Curtis Clark, ASC showed his demo test of the Sony F65, with an indoor scene strongly backlit, and with the contrast of very bright backgrounds.  Projected in 4K, the images’ latitude, resolution, contrast and low light capabilities were quite impressive.

Toasted ALEXA and Transvideo Monitor

The ARRI booth showed an ARRI Alexa camera that was almost totally burned in a fire.  But the camera still worked when new cables and lenses were installed.  It was proudly on display in operational mode at ARRI’s booth. No, the fan did not overheat.

ARRI Alexa Plus cameras include remote wireless control (zoom, iris and focus) and extra outputs. ARRI Alexa M cameras allow the sensor and lens mount part of the camera to be detached for easier and more portable and compact 3D filming. ARRI Alexa Studio cameras, to be released later this year, will have a film-style rotating shutter, and a real optical viewfinder.


ARRI accessories allow DSLRs, Sony PMW-F3, Panasonic AF-100 and other popular digital cameras to snap onto popular ARRI follow focus controls, matte boxes, rod systems, etc.

ARRI Alexa version 4 software will have audio playback from the camera, peaking for focus check in viewfinder, auto white balance, and more. Alexa Plus version 4.0 will include lens and inclinometer metadata for each frame, 3D lens matching, electronic horizon, and lens data archive.

Sony 4K SXRD projectors are installed at over 5,700 in the US, with 47% of the US market, and over 13,000 commitments worldwide.

Sony PMW-F3 digital camera with Super 35 mm sensor has attractive features and an attractive price. The even smaller, very attractive Sony NXCAM S35 NEX-FS100 is was also on display with all kinds of lenses and accessories.

GoPro full HD 3D mini underwater camera, also flies 3D HD in a remote controlled 8-bladed model helicopter.

Panasonic announced that more than 200,000 P2 units are in use worldwide. They got  the 2012 Olympic games video contract, and NASA is sending the Panasonic 3DA1 3D camcorder to outer space. Panasonic showed the new 3D camera to succeed the AG-3DA1 with more improvements for 3D filming: the new Panasonic AG-3DP1 3D camera.

The Panasonic AF-100 digital camera with 4/3 sensor, the Sony PMW-F3 and Sony NXCAM S35 with Super 35 mm sensors take aim to reclaim market share eroded by DSLR cameras by offering broadcast grade HD cameras with large format sensors that deliver very shallow depth of field and a PL lens mount.

Band Pro showed a beautiful demo reel shot by Harris Savides, ASC and Tom Lowe using the Leica Summilux-C prime lenses. All in the Band Pro Booth: Sony PMW-F3 with Sony SR-R1 Memory Recorder, Astrodesign HR-7502 2K SSD 3D player recorder, Horseman TS-Pro Shift & Tilt lens system,  Codex Digital and CineFLOW uncompressed digital recorders.

Canon showed their new 30-300 mm and 14.5-60 mm PL mount zoom lenses.

Red Digital showed the Epic filming in 5K as used on several high profile big budget 3D studio feature films (Hobbit, Spiderman, Pirates 4, etc). Epic has interchangeable Optical Low Pass and ND filters positioned behind the lens.  Also introduced were two versions of Red Ray 4K real time player, a working Scarlet (or Epic Light) 3K camera with fixed zoom lens, iPad control, bracketry, and the new “Dragon” sensor for 2012 .

High speed cameras for ultra slow motion filming were shown by Visual Research’s Phantom Flex, IDT’s HDiablo, P+S Technik’s Weisscam HS-2, NAC, Olympus, For.A, iMovix, and Fastcam.

Cooke Optics showed the Panchro T2.8, S4/i T2.0 and 5/i T1.4 prime lenses.

Angenieux showed Optimo zoom lenses: 16-42 mm, 30-80 mm, and the new 45-120 mm T2.8.


ARRI L7 LED lighting. Available in tungsten, daylight, or both.  It comes in a 7” Fresnel housing, runs cool all day, has a very long life bulb, high efficiency, good CRI. Gekko Technology showed their PRG distributed Space Lights, blendable karesslite softlights, new kedo focusable fixture and more.

Data Capture

Blackmagic Design's uncompressed SSD data recorder

Convergent Design introduced the Gemini 4:4:4, a miniature uncompressed HD data SSD recorder with a built-in monitor, S-Log viewing LUT, dual link and 3D capable.  Its small portable size makes it ideal for 3D field playback and recording. We saw some good rigs at the Sony booth and elsewhere to mount the Gemini to a Sony F3 camera.

The AJA KiPro mini data recorder is a Red Epic 5K approved ProRes HD digital recorder.

Blackmagic Design showed the Hyperdeck Shuttle, an SSD data recorder that can record uncompressed 10 bit SDI or HDMI video. The deck is an insanely low $345. It’s tiny, rugged and cute.

Grip & Dolly

Matthews' Bob Kulesh demos the DC slider

Matthews introduced the DC slider which manually glides the camera horizontally, diagonally or vertically with balanced counter weight.  Other table sliders include MYT Works, Kessler, Cinemax Corp, Dana Dolly, and Losmandy Porta Jib, among others.

Panther showed the High-Low Turnstile, allowing Panther dollies to change from near ground camera level to six feet high in a few seconds, without removing the film camera. Panther also showed a car mount with 3 active suction cups, driven and  constantly held secure by a constantly active vacuum pump.  The Panther guys say they feel secure and confident mounting an expensive high end digital camera on it.

Post production

Just as Blackmagic Design broke all rules last NAB to give us the top level da Vinci Resolve 7.0 (now ver 8.0) top class color correction software everyone can afford, they did it again with broadcast studio class switchers, Special Effects Generators (SEG), uncompressed SDI SSD data recorders, 10 bit editing using USB 3 fast I/O connnectivity, high end 3G HD SDI mini converters, H.264 encoders, broadcast SDI multiple monitors, and more.

AJA showed 2K, 3D, 4K and 5K workflows that is compatible via Thunderbolt I/O, and real time full quality scalers from HD to 5K.  Kona 3G capture cards now play 4K resolution at no additional cost for Kona 3G owners. The AJA FS2 is a 2 channel 10 bit virtually any input to any output box with optical fibre, and optional Dolby-E coding full channel for the best soundtrack.

Autodesk Smoke for Mac OS X online finishing software is now shipping.  They also upgraded Flame, Maya & 3DSM finishing high end editing systems.

Apple’s Final Cut Pro X editing software announced with lots of goodies and upgrades, finally.

Maxon showed high end matte painting and post work for big budget studio feature films.


Sony BVM-E series monitors are 17” and 25” OLED broadcast grade reference monitors.  This is targeted at high end post house that demand the very best monitors for grading.

4K monitors were shown by Panasonic, Sony, TV Logic, Astro Design, JVC and others.

Transvideo showed its CineMonitorHD 3DView family of monitors that have become industry standards on many 3D productions. Transvideo also showed their wireless HD monitors, that can be handheld and carried anywhere on the set.

The Future

iPad controller for RED Epic

My impressions for the future. USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt compatibility. Although consumers will hardly notice the difference, data wranglers will see a noticeable speed increase when juggling data.

More and more devices will be controlled via iPad3 and iPhone5.

Higher frame rates, sensitivity, spatial resolution, and latitude. As digital cameras continue to push the envelope, high end acquisition will become more cost effective, efficient, and seamless. Dare I say DIT-less? But Data Wranglers will be essential—in the same way film loaders were.

HDR will become ubiquitous, Volumetric 3D will become widespread. Color gamut’s range and scope will expand to beyond the visible light spectrum of humans. And 3D will continue to intrude and invade into our private domain.

Should cinematographers learn and master Stereoscopic 3D filming techniques?  Ignore, notice, accept or venerate?  Cinematographers should learn it, since many 3D virtues can be smartly applied to 2D filmmaking.



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