I returned back home from Las Vegas and NAB on Tuesday night after spending 2 1/2 days in the City of Sin, my last few hours being spent at the wonderful Hofbräuhaus next to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino where I, along with coworkers and friends, downed their great tasting German lager out of ridiculously massive 1 liter glass steins while enjoying what I have to imagine is "classic" Bavarian folk music. After having a few days back home to digest what I saw and learned (not to mention playing catch up on the current show I'm editing for the Outdoor Channel) I thought it would be a good time to share with everyone the goods on the trip.First of all, I went to NAB with a few goals - the first goal was to basically check out all the specific technologies and tools that directly pertained to what I do day-to-day (editing, motion graphics, color correction, et al) and get the latest dirt on the newest stuff coming out and why it is I need them (there's a naturally assumption here that I need everything new at all times :] ). The second goal was for me to talk to all the vendors that sell color-correction tools and to inform them that my work is planning on building up a color-correction suite from the ground up and to sell me the best you can on your product so that I can determine which system to recommend and also which system I want to spend hours and hours working on. The 3rd goal of mine was to just meet people and make connections and BS about industry stuff. I basically achieved every goal, with varying degree of success. I was able to check out all the products that in any way pertained to what I do and that's really the focus of this post. Without further back story, here is in order of what interested me the most, what my impressions were from the NAB floor.I. Apple Final Cut Studio 2
It has to start with Apple. I spend more time using Apple software than anything else currently in this world (at least 40 hours a week) so obviously it concerns me greatly what they're coming out with and what I'm going to have to live with for the next year or so. I got to NAB on Sunday night so I had already heard the announcement about Color and Final Cut Server and all that, and of course I had to see it first.So I took the free bus to the convention center on Monday morning and was waiting with a herd of people at around 8:50am on the far end of the South Hall as we waited for them to open the show and give us admittance. After about 15 minutes they finally opened it all up, and it seemed as if everyone, including me in the front of the pack, made a mad dash to the Apple booth. Well okay, it probably wasn't as "mad" as it is in my head but it makes for a better story. Apple, to my surprise, had already started their first demonstration on the main stage in their gigantic "booth" when I got there. I honestly can't even remember what that first presentation was.. it's all a blur - I think it was just on the Studio 2 suite. The big thing I wanted to see was Color, and the Color presentation came shortly thereafter. The presentation was very easy to follow and very informative. I was personally amazed at all that this new component of Studio could do, and how this is exactly the type of software that I was hoping for and could put to use the instant I get it. The amount of control, the Color FX and the node base system around it, the 3d color histograms, the 8 secondary color correctors, the vignettes, and the integration with FCP was very well done in my opinion, and I couldn't wait to try it out. Fortunately, I was able to get in one of their Color classes that they were teaching twice daily on the right side of their booth and it was great to be able to use the interface first hand and explore the menus and see what it could do. There was an Apple dork that kept trying to correct me when I strayed from the tutorial from the lady that was giving the short tutorial, so I had to tell him to chill out and that I wasn't there just to follow along (although I did manage to keep up). All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with the speed and precision that advanced or simple color correction could be done. The "auto-correct" button was so awesome and, whatever the math behind it was, it seemed to instantly make any shot that you applied the setting to look better in my eyes. For quick and dirty fixes that don't really require or call for advanced color correction, or if your intention is not to become a color correcting pro, that "auto-correct" button is going to come in handy all the time.II. Adobe - Creative Suite 3 (Production Premium)
The second on the list of products that impressed me was most definitely Adobe CS3. I wasn't expecting to see so many cool things with CS3 - and I never would have had it not been for an Adobe Pro who was set up in the Canon booth upstairs - Nathan Gentner - who gave me and my co-worker Rich a personalized tour of CS3 and all the awesome things that it could do. CS3's ability to open Quicktimes directly for edit has long been on my wishlist - and now it's finally here. You can open a movie, use the healing brush tool over a set of frames, and then save the file or send it to After Effects for more work. You can also do compositing straight from Photoshop - say for example you want to stick a static image behind some keyed out footage or green screen footage - you can do this in Photoshop now. Photoshop CS3's vanishing point tool (which I have NEVER used) can export all it's data into After Effects - this was exampled to me by taking a 2d image of a building, adding the vanishing point planes in PS CS3, and then sending to After Effects and adding a camera movement to similate a 3d movement... and the 2d image was suddenly 3d! It was amazing - and it was EASY! I couldn't believe it. Adobe Encore CS3's addition of Blu-Ray authoring peaked my interest (and I loved the title when it loaded... "Come for the Blu-ray, stay for the Flash") but what really got me excited was that you can now author a DVD, and with a click of a button send that same DVD movie structure directly to a Flash movie! That is something I've wanted for so long! I don't know of this ever being possible before... but I have wished that my demo reel could be turned into a movie so that I can show it on my website the way I authored it on DVD - I put so much time and work into it and wish I didn't have to replicate this work - now Encore CS3 preserves all your chapter markers and menus and plays exactly what your DVD looks like in Flash. I see so many uses for this in our production environment when I'm constantly burning a DVD to send to someone for approval or something - now, once I learn Encore, I can just make a flash movie and stick it on a web server, and boom!Now on to After Effects CS3 - this is an exciting looking product. I didn't get too far in depth with it but the new puppet tool was amazing in what it could do. I think it's going to open up a lot of animation possibilities. Okay, it's getting late now and I'm going to have to finish this later. Consider this, PART 1!