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Friday, April 12, 2013

NAB 2013 LookBack

If you didn't know better this should be some celeb on the red carpet. Instead its Grant Petty of BMD showing off the new pocket cinema camera. It was pretty crazy.

Now that the NAB hype machine is over for a while, here are some thoughts : 4K as a production tool is coming into its own. There are plenty of cameras now that look incredible in every price range. One interesting note is that I got to play with a F65 next to a F55... and the F55 was showing better dynamic range holding some hillights the F65 wasn't. Probably a matter of camera tweaking.... or not ! 

Watching 4K was great. It much like seeing 1080 from SD. Yes 4K makes 1080 look like VHS ! It will test good from average from poor lenses very quickly. While consumers are a long way off from updating to 4K sets production needs to take it seriously. The improve quality especially for VFX / roto / keying work is major. If your product has shelf life, shooting 4K will protect that investment even if you edit and output 1080. Funny enough this is exactly what I was saying 8 to 10 years ago when I got my first HD camera convincing producers they should shoot HD even though it was an SD world back than. It proved to be great advice then, and I think so one more time again. HD TV's are at an amazing 75% market penetration now. At this point I don't care about the last 25% - I'm going to frame full 16:9 and not worry about centercut. If you don't want the image cut off, its time to upgrade because its stupidly cheap to get a good HD set these days. Likewise we'll see the same pattern repeat itself with 4K over the next 10 years. Folks aren't going to trash their perfectly good HD sets right now, especially ones bought in the last few years. Instead, just like HD over SD it will be a slow gradual process IF 4K sets drop to affordable levels along the lines of $1k-$2k for this first round of consumer sets. No one is forking out $5K for a set and there is no content. Even the expensive $35K sony sets are  basically handmade prototypes with 8 bit displays. Cheaper sets are in fact 6bit displays. This is just like the start of HD and its being repeated all over again.

So get ready to build out a 4K production process because its coming. Of course nothing makes me laugh harder than when I hear that in 2013 there are shops that are finally upgrading to HD from SD.... you need to stay with the times or risk being left behind and out of business.