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NAB 2012 Notes and Musings from Day One

Some quick notes from a very VERY long day, need to get some rest so I can repeat this all again tomorrow. Some of this is third hand as I spent the day working with the fine folks from the Small Tree Communications booth so I have not had a chance to walk the show floor and see many products personally yet ....

Opening Bell Winner

In South Hall it appears that BlackMagic Design kicked off the day in high frenzy thanks to the announcement of their Digital Cinema Camera, a 2.5k camera that retails for $2995 and includes Davinci Resolve and the UltraScope. As one person as the Media Motion Ball commented tonight, “Why would you buy Resolve? Just buy the camera for a little more and get Resolve included.” Honestly not a bad idea.

Speaking of Resolve, that rolled out with a new 9.0 interface that got rave reviews from all those I talked to. Around 1pm I got the opportunity to have my annual chat with BMD’s founder Grant Petty. Our annual chat is actually one of the high points for me each year at NAB and I’m really thankful we had the opportunity today with all the madness around that camera.

Of course I had to ask, “why in the world would you want to enter the camera market when it’s so saturated?” As a Post Production artist, I’m honestly getting sick and tired of 20 new cameras with 15 new formats each year and then we have to figure out how to make those codecs work in Post. That’s precisely what Grant was thinking too when he made this thing. See he was thinking backwards designing a low cost, high quality image camera that would be friendly on the Post side. Literally by thinking of the codecs first (ProRes / DNxHD) that are ready to edit, then working on a happy medium between high quality image and price point. He settled on 2.5k image size because that scales down to standard HD beautifully. The idea is really to push the camera manufacturers off the idea that a high quality image always has to cost high dollar and always has to include some sort of codec that easier for the camera manufacturers than the Post process. I have to say, that’s a very clever idea. The camera itself also has a cool retro feel to it, reminding me of an classic Polaroid camera from the outside. I liked it.

On Resolve he’s quite proud of his design team for really re-working the interface to make it more accessible. On Teranex, I can see he’s been quite hands on with making design changes to their products to make them more elegant and user friendly. He’s been quite impressed with the entire engineering team on how quickly they are progressing on the changes. The Teranex product line was a complete stroke of genius on his part to roll into the company. Thunderbolt is definitely huge with a whole line of UltraStudio variations

It’s incredible to see where he’s taken the company from its humble beginnings with capture cards into a company that has inroads into almost all areas of production and post. We actually had to laugh because all these years later, he’s still doing the same thing with the UltraStudios and such. Still figuring out better ways to let the end user have a good I/O experience. Definitely swing by and check out this booth as there are just too many products to mention.

Small Tree Communications

Finally got the chance to see the long awaited “Titanium” all in one shared storage solution from Small Tree as I worked in that booth all day. This is a single box that includes the computer, the storage and ethernet ports for shared storage. In other words, it does away with the Computer and Ethernet Switch and brings it all into a single box. It’s available in 16 and 8 drive configurations and easily expandable. It’s kick ass to say the least.

In addition, they were showing some nice Shared Ethernet over Thunderbolt with two thunderbolt expansion chassis. Small Tree 10gig Ethernet cards inside expansion chassis connected to either an iMac or a MacBook Pro allowing for higher speed editing such as uncompressed HD. Very cool. I’ll be there again most of the day Tuesday, so come on by and say hello!


At the Media Motion Ball AJA showed off the product I actually asked for two weeks ago and was greeted with a “we’ll consider that.” The T-Tap thunderbolt to video output for just $249. SDI and HDMI output via thunderbolt. Very simply output only device for any situation where you don’t need ingest, just output. In my case as I develop my new infrastructure around iMacs, I honestly don’t need I/O on every system all the time. So for 5 edit suites, I’ll purchase two Io XT’s and three T-Taps. If someone needs to ingest, just move the IoXT into that room and put the T-Tap into the other room. So everyone is always outputting to the monitors, and I can save some money by not installing ingest products where they are not needed all the time.

Also some nice additions to the Ki Pro lineup with the Ki Pro Rack with dual record hard drives and the Ki Pro Quad which can record 4k in the field. Definitely a booth worth seeking out.

Editing Platforms

From all accounts the Adobe, Autodesk and Avid booths were jammin’ all day. Scores of folks came down to the Small Tree booth after watching demos of Autodesk Smoke truly blown away by what they saw. “It lives up to the hype” “You were right” were the two comments I heard the most all day. Biggest questions raised were whether Autodesk will port Smoke 2013 to Windows and when will they start supporting the rest of the installed 3rd party infrastructure like BlackMagic and Matrox. Definitely hoping that’s forthcoming as that will open the product up to the entire FCP installed ecosystem. Will be making an appearance on the Autodesk stage Tuesday at 2:30pm with Evan Schechtman. You can watch it stream here, it should be most amusing.

Adobe CS6 was met with a lot of very positive response by many who came by. Some had the same questions we raised during the CS6 testing, but overall, it’s a major step forward from the Adobe team. I got a lot of folks asking if should have waited until we saw CS6 before making the decision to switch to Avid, but as we had been testing CS6 for months, our decision was based on CS6 vs. Avid MC6. I’ll discuss in more detail next week.

Avid Symphony is my pick for “Deal of the Show.” How can you not benefit from purchasing this for your facility at just a $999 cross-grade special? And this is VERY limited so don’t wait too long. I firmly believe that any editor today should have both Avid and the Adobe suite on their editing system.

The elephant in the room that in Final Cut Pro X is having mostly a negative reaction among those I spoke to both on the show floor and tonight at the Media Motion Ball. Quite honestly most professional editors I spoke to are just “done with Apple.” Apple released exactly the product they wanted to a year ago, with a workflow that suited them with just enough features that suited them. One year later, the announcements today were greeted with, “that’s not a major release, just Apple trying to put back enough features to appease professional editors.” The general sense is folks are just tired of Apple’s games. There’s also a large segment that is tired of the “fanboys” who have the ulterior motive of needing a healthy Final Cut Pro X user base to make money for their own product lines. Particularly from those who don’t actually edit for a living.

Now I said the response I'm hearing has been “mostly negative.” One set of folks said they were willing to give Apple a second chance based on what they are seeing and hearing from Apple. I definitely plan to stay in touch with them to see how they move forward as they are a rather large installation and it’ll be interesting to see if they make it work. And of course in our Atlanta Cutters group, we’re trying to get the folks from TNT’s “Leverage” to come in and show us their X workflow for that original series.

It’s been so interesting to watch how a product that was so dominant is now hardly mentioned while Avid, Autodesk and Adobe reap the windfall of thousands up thousands of seats switching not only over to their products, but folks like me now considering PC machines to replace existing Mac Pros.

Flanders Scientific

Folks continue to thank me for introducing them to the name Flanders Scientific and their lineup of incredible monitors. If you have not seen the 2461W model yet, definitely check them out in the back of South Hall Lower.

Media Motion Ball

As usual an excellent event where I got to say hello to so many folks I know and meet so many for the first time. Had some audio issues where the sound system was very quiet and the audience was quite loud. Made for difficulty hearing the presenters, particularly in the early part of the event. But as usual, the food was excellent, the company at our table was excellent and new Red Giant Films short was hilarious.

This is definitely a “family reunion” type of event for me getting to see Scott Simmons, Shane Ross, Alexis Van Hurkman, Robbie Carmen, Dan Berube, Kevin Monahan and so many others. Then meeting fellow “Cows” like Walter Soyka and Patrick Inhofer to put the faces with the names.

Had a great time chatting with the folks from BlackMagic Design and Flanders Scientific along with the Avid folks. Since this is a smaller event, you can really get one on one time with these folks and ask a lot of questions, or get in a good joke.

This remains my favorite event at NAB and you really should sign up early next year as it will sell out since it’s a much smaller event than the big SuperMeet.

Adobe Event

A very nice event, another “reunion of sorts” seeing folks I haven’t seen in a year and met up with some great folks from A Frame. Cloud based workflow for television and film that’s already been used for some major projects. I definitely intend to check them out in the North Hall to see how all of this works as this may be a great workflow for some original series and documentary projects we have coming up. They have a very editorial driven product.

And with that, I’m going to wrap it up. It’s almost 1am local time and I have to be up early again tomorrow to hit work the booth. Hopefully this wasn’t too rambling.....

Posted by: walter biscardi on Apr 17, 2012 at 1:04:24 am Post Production, Autodesk Smoke

Professional Video Editor, Producer, Creative Director, Director since 1990.

Credits include multiple Emmys, Tellys, Aurora and CableAce Awards.

Creative Director for Georgia-Pacific and GP Studios, Atlanta. Former Owner / Operator of Biscardi Creative Media. The show you knew us best for was "Good Eats" on the Food Network. I developed the HD Post workflow and we also created all the animations for the series.

Favorite pastime is cooking with pizza on the grill one of my specialties. Each Christmas Eve we serve the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian seafood meal with approx. 30 items on the menu.

If I wasn't in video production I would either own a restaurant or a movie theater.



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