NAB 2013 - An industry in transition
Wow! I wasn't expecting this year's NAB to be so exciting. Our industry has gotten mature and so have the products. From the start of our dealer meetings on Sunday, I could tell that something big was happening, not a huge tidal wave of change, but several big waves, rolling in one after another, that would have a dramatic impact on the future of our industry. Each of these waves on their own are interesting, when you look at the convergence that is going on, it adds up to very important and powerful changes that will shape the future of content creation. So what are they?
1) 4K and Ultra HD are here. Two ways of saying the same thing. Everyone who makes cameras was showing 4K, and let me tell you, they all produce spectacular footage. So by all means, run out and get a 4K camera, just make sure you leave a bunch of money in your budget for actually editing and using the footage.
When HD first came out we had 720p and 1080i. When asked which would ultimately win out, I said neither, our customers would want to turn it up to 11. Which at that time meant 1080p. Well if 1080p was 11, then 4k is more like 20. Not just because you get that much more resolution, but because the files are that much bigger and working with 4K, either compressed or uncompressed, is going to push current computer technology to the limit. We have a long way to go for cost effective 4K NLE workflows and deliverables. That said, just because it's expensive today, doesn't mean it won't be in a year or two. 4K is here and we'll be seeing much more of it in the future, so it is important that all content creators keep it on their radar.
2) Live Streaming and Post Production collide. Before the show one of the areas we had targeted to look for new products was Live Video Streaming. Over the past year we've been adding streaming solutions to our product line, and I'm happy to say we've found a bunch more. The two most exciting new products for us are the Matrox Monarch HD streaming appliance $999 and the Teradek VidiU $699 on camera wireless streaming device. Both a e super easy to set up and use, support your choice of streaming provider and a wide variety of bit rates and image quality. We'll talk more about them later in our NAB report.
Newtek launched this category back in 2005 with the TriCaster. A remarkable product that has become the industry standard for live multi-camera streaming production. Actually, the TriCaster has grown into a whole family of products starting at $5K.
At NAB we saw several interesting products that will also go into this space. Grass Valley was showing the GV Director, what they call the world's first non-linear live production solution. GV was still working out the pricing, but from what we could gather it will start in the $35K range, with 8 inputs. Broadcast Pix was showing Flint, a $8,995 live production solution that really blew us away. We also saw both Streamstar and LiveStream with their own dedicated live streaming computers. Before NAB we introduced the Matrox VS4 bundled with Telestream Wirecast, available as a bundle for under $2,500 or fully integrated into a turnkey solution by a Matrox certified system builder starting at around $5K.
Live Video Streaming is affordable and not as complicated as you may think. We are talking to some of the streaming video service providers and we hope to be able to offer streaming bundled together with our streaming hardware/software products in the very near future.
3) Thunderbolt is hitting full stride. Thunderbolt has not gotten off to the lightning fast start many of us had envisioned. While Apple put it in every new iMac, Mini and Mac Book Pro, the premium for Thunderbolt devices has been pretty high, hurting sales. We have several important Thunderbolt announcements from the NAB show floor.
Intel announced the next rev of the Thnunderbolt standard, doubling the throughput from 10Gb to 20GB per/sec, for each channel. That makes it almost as fast as dedicated RAID controllers like the Atto R680. WOW!
HP was giving an invite only sneak peak of their workstation roadmap in what they called their "Secret Suite", making it the worst kept secret at NAB. All I can tell you is that Thunderbolt will be coming to HP Z series portable workstations.
2K & 4K files are huge, and you are going to need Thunderbolt to move them around. Years ago storage was a bottleneck for video editors, and it still can be. But more painful now is just how long it takes to move these large files from card to machine, or machine to machine, or machine to network. We're talking as much as 1TB for an hour of footage!
Thanks to Thunderbolt you can replace your Mac Pro with a fully loaded 27" iMac. As an example, add on an AJ IoXt and a Pegasus R6 storage and you've got an NLE workstation that can run Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer or FCPX and handle HD and 2K footage with ease.
4) Video Editors have more choices, more affordable and more powerful than ever before! Both Avid and Adobe had big time announcements and product demonstrations at the show.
Avid launched Media Composer 7, at a new $999 price point and they are offering a FREE upgrade to 7 for anyone who purchases MC 6.5 between April 7th and product launch, targeted for late June. All I can say is Hallelujah, it's about time! Avid is the industry standard for video editing. If you are watching a Hollywood movie, or the latest series on cable or broadcast television, you can bet it was cut on an Avid. Every nominated Oscar film was, and so are the most watched shows on television. Avid had to move the price down on Media Composer to fight off the competition coming from Adobe and the always improving FCPX. We're glasd they did. Now everyone can afford Avid, and if they invest the time and training, become and Avid editor!
Adobe didn't launch a new version of anything, but they did give us sneak peak at new versions of everything! Adobe provided no time table on when or if CS Next would ship. What they did tell us was that everyone who subscribes to the Creative Cloud will get each new product update as they become available, no need to wait for the next official version of CS Next. This is big. We watched demos of the new features coming for Premiere Pro, After Effects, Prelude, Audition and Photoshop. If you have Creative Cloud, you can upgrade to them the instant they become available.
Grass Valley Edius is gaining traction, especially in newsrooms. Many call letter stations are changing over to Edius. Edius is a full featured video editor that is very quick and efficient. It handles almost every HD format natively, and the Canopus HQ CODEC is a fantastic digital intermediary. We've been running a $299 crossgrade promotion on Edius and at NAB we worked with the folks at Grass Valley and had this program extended. Almost any video editing program qualifies for this crossgrade, from consumer titles like Premiere Elements or Pinnacle Studio up to professional NLE's like FCP, Media Composer & Adobe Premiere.
Coming soon Videoguys NAB Report (Part II): Videoguys Top Products of NAB 2013