Videoguys NAB 2008 Report

Videoguys NAB 2008 Report

The feelings around this year's NAB Show were of apprehension, tension and excitement. With the announcements that first Avid, and then Apple had pulled out of the show, no one was really quite sure what to expect. When we hit the show floor on Monday it was a bit disorienting. No longer was Avid the first booth you saw in the South Hall, and nowhere to be seen where all the folks scurrying around the Apple booth. Instead, the show had a more open and even flow to it. While the traffic was definitely down from prior years, the general mood was up, and the quality of the attendees was what counted most. The folks who came to NAB2008 came for business, and they knew what they were looking for - Improved HD workflows, higher performance, top quality products and as much bang for the buck as they could find. As you will see from our report - NAB2008 was not a disappoint.

Avid

While not officially at the NAB Show, Avid had a very big presence. I was fortunate enough to attend their dealer meeting on Saturday and their user event Sunday night. They also had a user event Monday night and hands on demos at the Hard Rock Cafe during the show. At the dealer and user events, we had the chance to hear from the new Avid management team and how they were re-inventing the company and re-thinking their business.

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Let me tell you, Media Composer 3.0 is a MAJOR upgrade. Here are just some of the goodies Avid has added into the software - we'll discuss the hardware afterwards:

  • Media Composer 3.0 is a true multi-threaded application with support for Leopard and Vista. Under Vista 64 it will run 32 bit, but you will get to use huge amounts of RAM. Media Composer 3.0 will also still run under XP Pro for those Windows users not yet willing to make the jump to Vista.
  • CPU and GPU performance taps into all processing cores in your machine. Avid has designed something called Domain Management into MC Soft, which allows the software to identify what is the best way to handle the load and manage it between all the CPU cores and the GPU and the Avid's new line of DX hardware. MC Soft does all the work, you just edit and MC Soft gets the optimal performance from your workstation.
  • Multiple layers of HD with support for all flavors in native rasters. This means that HDV and DVC Pro HD thin rasters are no longer an issue. You simply select the format you want to edit in and MC Soft takes care of the rest. Multiple layers of HD footage are a breeze and you can even mix formats including 720p and 1080i in the timeline in real-time.
  • You can drag and drop multiple layers of footage together on the timeline - in multiple HD formats. This was one of my favorite parts of the demo. Before this you would have to re-create a multi-layered sequence if you wanted to add a layer anywhere but the top. Now you can just grab a stack of clips and move them anywhere on the timeline. They stay perfectly synced together and you get instant real-time performance.
  • The handling of Media Composer 3.0 is superb. When you hit the keyboard, the timeline reacts instantaneously. No delays, no waiting. Dead on accurate response times.
  • How much real-time HD? Depends on the speed of the computer. They were running 8-core Macs and HP workstations. 6 layers of DVC Pro HD in real-time full resolution. I think they got up to 9 when they lowered the preview to 1/4 resolution. Then we saw 3 or 4 layers of HDV in real-time full resolution output. Even more amazing was 6+ layers of DNxHD (up to 10+ with the Nitris DX hardware). Most impressive to me was when they dragged and dropped multiple layers of mixed HD formats while still maintaining full resolution, real-time playback.

What's the deal for upgrades?
Upgrade for recent purchasers of MC to 3.0 will be free. The "unofficial" grandfather date is March 17th, so registered users who purchased either the full version or the upgrade after March 17th will be able to get a free upgrade to 3.0 when it ships via the Avid download center. For those who purchased prior to March 17th I have been assured this will be a reasonably priced upgrade. We expect this to be well below the continuing offer to upgrade Xpress pro to MC Soft for only $495. Keep an eye on Videoguys.com for the official upgrade information and special upgrade bundles.




Check back for special upgrade offers for Media Composer Owners and other Bundle Specials!

Let's talk hardware.
At the show Avid unveiled a brand new architecture that goes beyond just the software. It also includes two exciting new hardware devices designed specifically for MC 3.0. Mojo DX and its big brother Nitris DX are external devices that are PCI based, not FireWire (PCIe delivers 20x the bandwidth of FireWire 400). Both hardware solutions are portable and you can run them with a laptop using a laptop PCIe card. Avid was showing this on one of the pods. I'm not sure if Avid will be offering one of these laptop cards available or just certify a list of those compatible. The move to PCIe is a major change and it will allow more consistent operation and reliability. If you have laptops and towers you can move the hardware between machines just by unplugging it from one and plugging into the other.

OK, so now for the big question - "How much will it cost?" Mojo DX with Media Composer 3.0 software will be $9,995. Do the math and the hardware alone is $7,500. We hope to have upgrade bundles available with the X Pro to MC upgrade. We also requested some kind of trade in program for existing Mojo SDI and even Mojo owners. No word on that but our Avid folks liked the idea. When I have the info, I will share it here.

The Mojo DX hardware is for I/O. SDI (SD & HD) I/O plus HDMI out. While it doesn't offer you true acceleration, there are some video related tasks that MC Soft will hand-off to the Mojo DX allowing the CPU & GPU to take on more. HDMI output is HD video and surround sound. So you could go down to Costco or Walmart and grab the best HD flatscreen TV you can for around $500 with HDMI inputs, then grab one of those $500 surround sound audio systems in a box. Hook it to Mojo DX and you have your own HD surround studio. It's not broadcast, but it is interesting.

Nitris DX will be $15K with MC Software. Same math puts the hardware only at $12,500. Nitris DX includes Avid DNxHD encode/decode plus far more I/O. If you can afford it - GET IT! I think you can get up to 9 layers full res of DNxHD in real-time with the Nitris DX hardware. 12 or more at 1/4 res. We will not be carrying the Nitris DX. You will have to get NitrisDX from your local Avid Gold Premier dealer. Upgrade programs for Adrenaline owners are in the works.


Matrox

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Matrox MXO2
$1,595.00

$1,595.00

For me the star of the NAB2008 show was Matrox. At the dealer meeting on Sunday we felt that Matrox was introducing two new exciting products at NAB. Once I hit the show floor Monday morning and I saw the mob in their booth, it was clear that this was about more than just 2 new products. Matrox had arrived as a dual platform hardware vendor, delivering exciting new products for both PC and Mac users. With support for Apple and Adobe products, and who knows when, maybe even Avid!

Matrox MXO2
The MXO2 is a complete I/O solution for Apple and Adobe editors on the Mac platform for a fantastic price of just $1,595!! You get SD and HD all in one sleek, sexy little package. MXO2 delivers all the I/O you need and want.

  • You need SDI, you got it for both standard and HD with 8 tracks of embedded audio channels.
  • If it's analog I/O you need, MXO as it - component SD & HD plus all the standard SD I/O.
  • What about HDMI you ask - MXO2 has it. Not just HDMI out, but HDMI input as well. Even cooler - the HDMI output includes surround sound!

How can they do it? Deliver all this I/O at such a great price? Only $1,595!! Here's the secret - they use the PCIe bus, which is 20x faster than FireWire 400. It is also far more reliable and removes any bottlenecks that can occur from pushing HD footage in and out of your Mac via FireWire. The MXO2 ships with 2 PCIe adapters - one for towers and a card for your laptop. You can simply move the MXO2 between computers just by unplugging it in from one and plugging it into the other. Unlike other I/O devices on the market, MXO2 is truly portable. It's sleek sexy form factor lets it fit in any laptop bag and it can run on AC or battery power.

MXO2 supports Apple applications like Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Color; as well as Adobe applications like Premiere Pro, After Effects, and the other applications included in the Adobe CS3 Production Premium. MXO2 supports multiple compressions and workflows including HDV, DVC Pro HD, uncompressed HD, XDCAM, and Apple Pro Res. With a quad core Mac you can capture into ProRes in real-time.

If your workflow demands input and output for multiple formats then MXO2 is the device for you. If you are working with tapeless workflows, or compressed HD formats that you can easily ingest via FireWire, then the original MXO is the device for you. Attach it to your Mac Tower or Laptop and you get pristine HD output - straight from Apple Final Cut Pro, Motion, Color or Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop. Not all workflows require I/O. If you just need HD output, you can save some bucks by adding the MXO to you workflow. Rumor has it you may even be able to preview your Avid Media Composer timeline in the not so distant future with MXO!

The MXO2 is expected to ship in late June. We will begin taking pre-orders immediately. In fact, we will be including a free gift with all pre-orders placed before June 15th.

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Matrox RT.X2LE
A couple of years ago Matrox introduced the RT.X2. At the time it delivered an unprecedented level of real-time HD and SD editing performance for under $1,700. Since then the product has just gotten better and better. With the latest 3.5 drivers you get support for even more HD formats as well as improved real-time performance. At $1,295 for the RT.X2 hardware it is still a bit too expensive for some videographers. With the introduction of the RT.X2LE card for $995 Matrox has brought the price of their real-time technology down to a level everyone can afford.

What's the difference between the original RT.X2 and the RT.X2LE hardware?

  • The RT.X2LE is a ¾ length PCIe 1x card. This is a big deal. The original RT.X2 is a full size PCIe 1x card with a handle on the end of it. It is simply too big to fit in some cases and motherboards. With the RT.X2LE install is a breeze. We popped it into our DIY6 machine and it is running GREAT!
  • The RT.X2 offers component and DVI output. This digital DVI HD output is a very cool feature for those doing color grading and other exacting work that requires a precise pixel-by-pixel rendition on the video. The RT.X2LE only has component HD output, which for most video editors is more than enough.
  • The RT.X2 and RT.X2LE deliver the identical real-time editing features and performance. The only thing you give up is the DVI output.

The RT.X2LE hardware is in stock for $995.We are working with both Adobe and Matrox to create some exciting bundle offers with Production Premium CS3. Check out Videoguys' Matrox RT.X2 LE FAQ to learn more about the Matrox Rt.X2 LE Hardware Advantage!


Focus Enhancements

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Focus FS-5 100GB DTE Recorder
$1,795.00

$2,195.00

Focus FS-5 60GB DTE Recorder
$999.95

$1,495.00

One of our best selling products over the past two years has been the Focus FireStore FS-4 Direct To Edit (DTE) disk recorder. FS-4 allows you to capture directly to the unit while videotaping. Even more important, you capture in the native format that works best for your NLE, allowing you to edit directly from the FS-4, or to drag and drop the files into your video drive and immediately begin editing. You never have to waste time capturing your footage again. Since the introduction of the FS-4 many new tapeless formats have emerged, but these tend to require still expensive solid-state storage. At NAB2008 Focus introduced the FS-5, their next generation of DTE product.

The FS-5 is about ½ the size and weight of the FS-4. It will ship with a 100GB iPod type hard drive which not only makes it smaller, it runs longer, cooler and quieter. Now that's a winning combination! You'll get 3 hours of running time from the included Li-Ion battery. It also includes USB 2.0 interface so it can mount faster and easier to more computers.

Around the NAB show one of the biggest buzz words was metadata. That's the added information you add about a video clip that allows you to search, sort and find the clips you want faster and easier. The new FS-5 will allow you to add metadata while you capture in the field. This can be done via template or even cooler, you can add metadata wirelessly via devices such as a Blackberry, PDA or cell phone by adding a USB 802.11 dongle. So let's say you are videotaping a wedding, you can identify the clips as wedding procession, ceremony, first dance, tossing the bouquet, etc. For sports you could have offense, defense, special teams etc. Think about how much time this can save you back in the editing suite.

The FS-5 also includes a color LCD screen. This allows you to better see and read the operation screens. You can't actually watch the video on this screen. That's a feature we'll have to wait for in the FS-6 or FS-7, a few years down the road.

FS-5 is scheduled to ship this summer with an MSRP of $2,195 for the 100GB model. We'll begin taking back orders once we have a more firm delivery date. Meanwhile, we are extending our special NAB offer on FS-4 Pro models. Get a free high capacity battery ($199 value) with the purchase of any FS-4 Pro model (60/80/100GB). Focus has also extended the $200 mail in rebate on the 80 & 100GB Pro models through May 31st. They have also refreshed the FS-4HD models. They now include a 60GB hard drive for just $749.95. That's 50% more space for just $50!


G-Technology

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G-Tech G-RAID2 1TB (1,000GB)
$259.00

$279.00

G-Tech G-RAID2 1.5TB (1,500GB)
$319.95

$349.95

G-Tech G-RAID2 2TB (2,000GB)
$399.00

$429.00

If you've been a follower of our website then you know that I have loved G-Tech G-Raids since their inception. These drives deliver outstanding performance and reliability because they have built in cooling. At NAB G-tech was showing off three new G-Raid drives that I think are very exciting.

  • G-RAID3
    The G-RAID3 family of drives will not replace the G-RAID2, but they will be available as a step up model. What do you get with a G-RAID3 that makes it worth the extra bucks? First you get a Quad interface. That means they've added eSata along with FireWire 400/800 and USB2. I'm a really big fan of eSata. On the PC side you'll find many motherboards now shipping with external eSata connections. Our DIY6 machine has two. eSata is far more reliable and faster than either FireWire or USB. GRAID3 also includes a quieter and smarter fan. It will adjust it's speed based on the cooling needed, giving you a much quieter solution. Also there's now a new "soft" power switch for better reliability.
  • G-RAID Pro
    No, this is not deja vu all over again! While G-Tech has resurrected the G-Raid Pro name, this is not the same product at all. Based on the G-SPEED eS chassis, it's a 4 drive external solution that can be configured as either a RAID0 or RAID5 using the integrated RAID controller. I'm becoming a really big fan of RAID5. You get redundancy and failsafe operation. If one of the drives fails, you don't lose any data and you can even keep editing. The G-Raid Pro is a triple interface (FireWire 400 / 800 / USB2). At the show I asked if it was possible that G-Raid Pro could have eSata as well. I didn't get a hard "No", which tells me it's still not set in stone. I hope they add eSata. This would make the G-RAID Pro the least expensive eSata RAID5 solution on the market. While the internal RAID controller would limit your ability to expand and stripe across multiple units, the price / performance value of the G-RAID Pro would make it my top recommendation for HD editors on a budget.
  • G-Raid mini2
    Just like the G-RAID3, the G-Raid mini2 gets a quad support, although it's just a triple interface - FW800/eSATA/USB2 - FW400 is through an 800 to 400 adapter cable. Even more important you now get the option of configuring it as a RAID0 or RAID1. What's so cool about that? I see it as a fantastic option for in the field. By capturing to a RAID1 mirror, you don't have to worry about disaster striking. You get two copies at the same time. For anyone using Adobe OnLocation I see this as a must have storage solution for it. Also, the G-RAID mini can be bus-powered via FireWire while connected eSATA - that's cool!


Adobe

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Adobe CS4 Production Premium for PC
$1,599.00

Adobe CS4 Production Premium for Mac
$1,599.00


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Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 for PC
$799.00

Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 for Mac
$799.00

While Apple and Avid elected to not exhibit at this year's show, it left Adobe as the place to be for NLE. Adobe was not showing any new versions of their software. The demo pods had Premiere pro, AE and Encore CS3 going. What got me so excited about Adobe was the technology preview I watched on the main stage Wednesday afternoon. Please keep in mind that everything I saw there was FUTURE technology - to be integrated into CS4 when it eventually ships. Since it isn't even announced, I can't even begin to give you a hint as to the when, but the WHAT that is coming down the road was simply amazing.

Metadata is the words and text that we can add to video clips that allows us to find, sort and use them faster. Adobe is taking metadata to all new levels. First they showed off OnLocation CS4. Now, not only can you capture live in the field, you can add all kinds of metadata while you capture. Describe the clip, note if it's a good or bad take, what talent is in it etc. Now you can save even more time when you bring it into Premiere Pro CS4 or After Effects CS4. But that's not even the coolest part about Adobe's new metadata plan. I saw the most incredible demonstration that will impact video editing and productivity dramatically in the future - Voice recognition software integrated into Premiere Pro CS4. You get a voice recognition metadata field that is fully searchable. So if your talent is talking about the new pick-up truck, you can search for any clips that mention words like, towing, cargo bed, horsepower etc. This technology goes beyond searching and sorting clips. You can put a track on the timeline and then search for the keywords. That's right, if you want to find the spot when the actor talks about the new suspension, just type the word suspension in and the timeline marker goes right to it. Now this was just a technology demonstration, so I can't speak for the accuracy of the voice recognition software, but just think about the possibilities!

Multiple Device Design Tool. When Adobe launched CS3 I thought one of the cleverest new tools was Device Central. This allowed you to see how your video would look on any number of preset devices - cell phones, PDAs even iPods. With the next generation of software Adobe takes this one step further. Now you can work in After Effects with device safe areas. You select the devices you want your clip to be seen on, AE loads in the templates. Now you can crop and size the video to optimize the video viewing area for all the devices. No worries about chopping off the actor's head or adding titles that don't fit on the screen. Just another example of how Adobe gets it, and they are leading the charge towards multi-format video for all types of viewer experiences.

Bordeaux - the Drag & Drop interactive Flash Authoring. This was another demonstration that blew me away. With this new software you will be able to author a completely interactive Flash experience, merging graphics, animated text, sounds and video. The best part was that you can use the raw video clips. You don't need to pre-render them into flash video. That allows you complete flexibility in the design process. In the demo it took about 15 minutes to create a fully interactive Flash experience complete with text that rolled in on cue, buttons that triggered graphics and or video. You can add keyframes into the video that trigger events in other areas of the screen. All with drag & drop simplicity. Like any fine wine I am certain that Bordeaux may initially be a little rough around the edges, but it will only get better and more powerful over time.

As I said, there is no official word on when CS4 will ship. We'll keep you posted when we learn more. On the CS3 front Adobe did have a pretty significant announcement with regards to the latest Premiere update. With Premiere Pro CS3 and the 3.2.0 update, you can now natively Ingest, and Edit Sony's XDCAM (DVCAM), XDCAM HD, and XDCAM EX format. Just as you would expect from Adobe and the Premiere Pro team, just drag and drop directly from the card into the Project Panel and start editing. No need to transcode your video with "wacky" single platform codecs and no need to worry about .mov and .avi files - just edit!


Sony Creative Software

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Sony Vegas Pro 8 Collection with DVD Architect 5
$499.95

$499.95

This was a pretty interesting NAB for Sony software. The VASST Vegas user event was very well attended. I've watched this party grow from just a few dozen people to now over a thousand. Even more significant for the first time since they purchased the software group from Sonic Foundry, Vegas Pro 8 was on display in it's own booth. No longer stuck in a corner of the massive Sony booth upstairs - Vegas, Sound Forge and Acid where represented in their own booth on the lower level. This was significant; it highlights Sony's commitment to their family of video and audio production software.

On the product side, the big news was DVD Architect 5, with Blu-ray Disc authoring support. Vegas Pro 8 ships with version 4.5 and when 5 ships in mid-June the Vegas Pro 8 bundle will be refreshed to include it. Even more important all registered owners of Vegas Pro 8 will be able to download the upgrade for FREE to DVD Architect 5. With the addition of Blu-ray Disc authoring, Vegas becomes the most comprehensive and cost effective way to go from HDV footage to Blu-ray Disc.

Purchase Sony Vegas Pro 8 Today and get a FREE Upgrade to DVD Architect 5 with full Blu-ray Disc Support direct from Sony!
FREE Upgrade requires registration and download direct from Sony


Sorenson Media

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Sorenson Squeeze 5
$479.95

$499.95

The big news from Sorenson was the availability of Squeeze 5. Announced a few weeks prior to the show, it was refreshing to see it in action knowing our customers could buy it today. What's new in Squeze 5? The interface get a face lift; It's now cleaner and easier then ever to use, with even more presets. But the big improvements are under the hood. The encoding engine is faster then ever. It's multi-core optimized, in fact you can process multiple files simultaneously on each core. Very impressive indeed.

Squeeze 5 includes a number of technologies to improve video quality. For Blu-ray Disc encoding, the highly efficient VC-1 video encoder is now included. Significant quality improvements have been made for MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and H.264 encoders, especially when using HD settings. New video pre-processing filters include Watermark, Hue-and-Saturation, Sharpen, and significant improvements have been made in the Inverse Telecine, Video Fade and the Deinterlacing filters, all resulting in higher quality video.

Sorenson Squeeze 5/Pro Version -- IN STOCK NOW!


Telestream

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Telestream Episode Pro for Windows
$949.95

$995.95

Telestream announced the availability of Episode 5.0 encoding software for Apple professionals. Version 5.0 adds encode and decode support for Flash 8 VP6s, Flash 9 (H.264) and Blu-ray Disc, keep pacing with the latest new media content authoring formats. For high-end post-production workflows, Telestream's high-performance Episode Engine server software adds input support for RED camera, Cineon and DPX formats. For Apple's new Final Cut Server media asset management and workflow automation software, Episode expands format choices beyond QuickTime to virtually any format.

The product that really caught my aye and attention in the booth was the Telestream Pipeline network encoder. Pipeline allows you multiple users on the network to capture video from a shared deck, eliminating the need for each editor to have a dedicated capture card and deck. This also means that all of the editors in a networked environment can have full access to every deck in the facility.

At NAB Telestream Pipeline network-based video capture and playout system expands to include more models, format support and integration into file-based workflows, including FlipFactory, Episode and Final Cut Pro. Schedule record from live feeds or log and capture video from tape. Pipeline enables users to edit or transcode media files while they are being ingested, providing significant time savings for importing media. Pipeline adds encoding support for ProRes 422 SD (SQ), with support for HD coming later this year.

Telestream Episode/Episode Pro -- IN STOCK NOW!
Buy Episode 4 Now & Get FREE Upgrade to Episode 5


SmartSound

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Telestream Episode Pro for Windows
$949.95

$995.95

At NAB, SmartSound was offering a sneak peak at the next version of their award winning soundtrack creation program, SonicFire Pro 5. Version 5 adds new enhancements to its award-winning Mood Mapping® feature that make it easy and fast to precisely match the timing of a score with events in a production. Users will be able to simply grab a beat in a piece of music and drag it to a nearby edit point or other key event in a video timeline without changing the rhythm and length of the rest of the score. The new "Spotting and Timing" feature in Sonicfire Pro 5 also increases the precision with which musical events can match events in a video. Editors can mark key points in the production where additional musical emphasis is required and Sonicfire Pro 5 will recommend the best-fitting music and provide different options and methods for achieving the best overall fit with the key points in the visual. Anyone purchasing SonicFire Pro 4.5 from NAB until the release of 5.0 qualifies for a free upgrade ot 5.0 directly from Smartsound.

SonicFire Pro5 -- Coming In June!!!
Get a FREE Upgrade to version 5 direct from SmartSound

Nab

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