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Memories of Peter O'Toole

Lawrence of Arabia came out when I was a child. My parents took me to it, probably at one of the remaining Hollywood movie palaces. It's a long movie (it originally had an intermission, just like Gone with the Wind), but I remember being riveted by the man with the blue, blue eyes, by the endless desert, by the drama of it all.

Later on, I saw O'Toole -- and loved him -- in My Favorite Year, The Ruling Class, Becket, How to Steal a Million, Lord Jim, The Lion in Winter...Maybe it was the British accent, maybe the blue eyes, but I think most of all his presence that said to me, even when I was a child: This is an actor of another stratum, someone above the hoi polloi.

Little did I know that one day I would chat with O'Toole on the phone. I wrote for The Hollywood Reporter for 20 years. Although my specialty was technology, there was a period of several years during which I wrote about everything for them, from women in entertainment to charities supported by Hollywood.

I was used to interviewing behind-the-scenes people: cinematographers, editors, sound mixers and so on. I feel very comfortable interviewing them: I know and respect what they do and, by and large, most of them are happy to be interviewed since their contributions were (and often still are), not recognized. I often emphatically tell people that, no, I don't interview actors or directors. Except, for a several year period, I did.

I am racking my brain as to the topic of the article for which I interviewed O'Toole: I searched for my name and O'Toole on the Reporter website, and came up with an article I wrote in 2008 about animated movies. In another great role, O'Toole was the voice of Anton Ego, the imperious snooty food critic, in the Oscar-winning Ratatouille. How perfect.

Still, you can imagine why I was more than a tad nervous to interview O'Toole. I had already had the experience of interviewing a few people who made it clear that they didn't want to be speaking with the press. Who was I to interview the man who was Lawrence of Arabia?

He was a sweetheart. Our phone conversation (because they were always phone conversations) was relaxed and friendly. He clearly had mastered the art of communicating his story, whether it was on the screen or to the press. He had aged (but, hey, this was BEFORE he played Anton Ego, so his professional career was still very much alive), but he gave a great interview and made me feel that he was perfectly fine speaking with yet another journalist. Can you imagine how many interviews he had had to give in his long professional life? Along with an interview with Pierce Brosnan and a few others, interviewing O'Toole was a fond memory of this period of interviewing actors.

When, not long ago, I saw the 4K restored version of Lawrence of Arabia, I half-way expected to find it tedious and too long, another "classic" that lost its sheen over time. Was I wrong. The movie was exquisite and not a moment too long. The music, the visuals (including a lens made specifically for the desert chimera, by Panavision's Tak Miyagishima, another story I covered), the intensity of O' stands still as a breathtaking cinematic achievement.

That's why Peter O'Toole will never disappear. He won't be making any new movies, but then again, with movies like Lawrence of Arabia, The Ruling Class and My Favorite Year, which new audiences will discover over and over again, does he need to? Very few artists of any medium rise above their time; Peter O'Toole is clearly one of them. I, for one, plan to re-watch some of his most amazing movies in honor of the man and his contribution to this art we all so love.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Dec 16, 2013 at 11:15:19 am Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia

Sirens & Sinners: Filmmaking in the Weimar Republic

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get a copy of the new book Sirens & Sinners: A Visual History of Weimar Republic Film 1918 - 1933. For all you film lovers out there, you know what an amazing time this was for filmmaking. In fact, some of the films made during this era continue to be strong artistic influences. I'm talking about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920;, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922) -- for my money, still one of the scariest films ever made; The Blue Angel (1930); M (1931).....the list goes on.

The Weimar era was influential for every art and has left an indelible impact on culture far outside Germany (the movie Cabaret, which takes place in the Weimar Republic, is a great example of how that era has entered the greater culture). That's the premise of the 308-page book, which includes hundreds of beautifully rendered photos from each of the 70 films discussed, with additional photos of film posters, movie theaters of the era, vintage phonographs, film magazines, directors and actors.

Written by Hans Helmut Prinzler, the former director of the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, Sirens & Sinners starts with Prinzler's in-depth article about filmmaking in that era. "The Restless Republic: New Directions in Germany 1918 - 33" describes the context in which this Golden Era, discussing politics, the economy, censorship, technology, literature, theatre, art, film criticism and film magazines and many other topics. It's a solid introduction to the films that follow.


And, oh, those films. You'll find a broad overview of the kind of movies made then. You'll find the familiar ones such as Pandora's Box (1929) but dozens of ones you've likely never heard of, including comedies, historic dramas and fantasies.The book also offers a complete list of references and a good index.

There's also a great ending chapter of the stars of the Weimar Cinema, portraits of artists as familiar as Louise Brooks, Pola Negri and Emil Jannings and plenty of more obscure actors of the era. All in all, the book is a fabulous read, a great reference for the era, and an amazing collection of photos.

Sirens & Sinners, from Thames & Hudson books, distributed by W.W. Norton in the U.S. and Penguin in Canada, will be released on Nov. 12, 2013 for $75. It'll make a nice Christmas/Chanukah present - for yourself or your favorite cinephile.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Oct 9, 2013 at 1:28:45 pmComments (2) film history, film appreciation

Surrender Dorothy: or why you should go see The Wizard of Oz

On September 20, The Wizard of Oz will open in selected cities in its latest incarnation: in stereo 3D and IMAX. Sounds like a gimmick, right? And those of you who have been following my posts know that I'm far from being a cheerleader for 3D for every movie.

Having just come out of a screening of the movie, though, I encourage you to go see it. The Wizard of Oz is a candy box of Hollywood magic, a cinematic paean to a corps of talent in every craft that built the industry.

Have you ever seen Wizard of Oz on the big screen? We are all so incredibly familiar with the tropes of the movie that most of us forget that we've watched it time and again...on TV. Before big screen TV. Seeing it on the big screen is enough of a revelation, but seeing it on the really big screen, IMAX, seemed just about as big as the movie deserves.

The stereo 3D was also admirably suited to the movie. (Stay tuned for an article later this week on the 3D conversion of the movie). The 3D was done quite tastefully, and emphasizes the movie's existing bit of technologically trickery: it's sepia-toned in Kansas until Dorothy gets to the magical land of Oz where everything gets very Technicolor (Nathalie Kalmus was the Technicolor advisor). The 3D took the same approach. I'd say that separating the planes of the movie was a wonderful complement to its staginess. The filmmakers had no intention of making a photoreal Oz, and the 3D plays up the fantasy.

That brings me to my main point. We all know certain facts about the movie: directed by Victor Fleming, starring a young Judy Garland, as well as Frank Morgan (the Wizard), Ray Bolger (the Scarecrow), Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion), Jack Haley (the Tinman), a Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton), a Good One, Glinda (Billie Burke) and the munchkins. Oh, and Toto and some scary flying monkeys.

You may know that the movie benefited from a host of uncredited directors and editors.

But do we remember the cinematographer? (Harold Rosson) What about the three UNCREDITED production designers? (Malcolm Brown, William A. Horning and Jack Martin Smith). Or the four art directors, only ONE of whom was credited (Cedric Gibbons)? (Uncredited were George Gibson, Wade B. Rubottom and Elmer Sheeley).

Shall I go on? Also uncredited (OK, granted, the credits - which come before the movie opens -- are short) are the amazing make-up designers/artists, second unit directors, the entire art department (except Associate Art Director William A. Horning); the ENTIRE sound department (and this was a musical -- and there was great Foley)....and just about everybody else who contributed to creating the magic of this movie.

See it because The Wizard of Oz still is magical, not simply because it harkens back to a more innocent time, but because it's a celluloid celebration of an amazing confluence of artistry and craft that revels in the richness of the fantasy it creates.

On the heels of a summer that saw some very big budgeted, very skillfully done VFX movies bomb, The Wizard of Oz -- yes, in 3D and IMAX -- is a tonic. It turns out that, in addition to some great acting and a solid story, all it takes is a lot of craft, plus a bit of heart, brain and courage, to bring it all home.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Sep 16, 2013 at 2:40:32 pmComments (6) cinematic history, feature films

Ray Harryhausen dies....

I was saddened to learn today that Ray Harryhausen died. Harryhausen was not only a visual
effects/stop motion pioneer but his work was the chief reason why many of today's leading lights
in VFX got involved in the field. He was 92.

He began his work in the early 1940s and was still being credited on projects well into the 21st Century. Of course the work that garnered so much awe among young people who made their way into VFX was The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Mysterious Island (196!), Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981).

Which Ray Harryhausen movie impacted you the most in your formative (or perhaps adult) years?

Although he won a number of awards, most of the significant ones (the Gordon E. Sawyer award from AMPAS, for example, in 1993) came later in life, well after he'd done his most groundbreaking work. Unlike others, however, he did live to see his amazing work appreciated by a new wave of digital visual effects artists who marveled over his extraordinarily creative, painstaking stop motion animation. Skeleton fight, anyone?

Ray Harryhausen does have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, something he got in 2003. I'm hopeful that some fans will see fit to gather there tonight to light some candles and remember all the pleasure his images brought to so many.

According to Wikipedia (which has a great entry on Harryhausen), his family released details of his death via Twitter and Facebook and, in a full statement, quoted George Lucas as saying that "Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars."

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on May 7, 2013 at 3:54:06 pm

NAB 2013 Wrap-Up - Stay Tuned!!

Usually one of the happiest days of the year for me is the day I'm driving back from NAB. All the stress leading up to the show: Handling the hundreds of requests for a booth meeting (some of them actually during the show), wearing out lots of shoe leather walking and walking (everything in Vegas is a mirage - way farther than it looks), and constantly being "on" engaging in intelligent conversation from 7:30 am (not my usual wake-up time) until the last sip of wine at each night's press dinner. It's all over for another 360 days and I'm usually quite relieved.

This year I was too tired to be happy. (But not too tired to make a quick stop at the Primm outlet shops for a little retail therapy.) But I was pretty satisfied with the way the show went.

A quick comparison to the items we ticked off at the Pre-NAB discussion at Editor's Lounge showed that we were pretty good prognosticators:

1. It wasn't a big news NAB. There were no big bombshells (unless you count the Blackmagic 16mm sensor digital pocket camera). By and large, exhibitors made incremental moves forward. I know that several panelists at the Editor's Lounge thought it would be a boring NAB. I was among those, but having been at NAB, I changed my assessment. It was nearly a buzz-free year, but not a boring year. I was heartened that exhibitors seemed more intent on figuring out their strategies and offering a path forward than hyping some fabulous new product that they might roll out in a year. Less hype is a good thing.

2. 4K was indeed the big news of the show, but it took me awhile to find it. See above: the hype about 4K wasn't intense, but the existence of actual products was surprisingly high. Manufacturers have been very, very busy this year. Last year, 4K seemed to be in its earliest days. Who knew that 12 months later, we'd see so many real products? Most important was that, ever-mindful that 4K acquisition is just the beginning, exhibitors paid a lot of attention to post workflow and integration of products.

A lot of people are wondering if they should make a move into 4K, for two reasons: they want to know if the infrastructure is there to support an entire workflow. Based on this show, I'd say it is definitely here (and actually has been around for awhile, but not widely used). NAB 2013 has shown that we're on our way to a plug-and-play 4K end-to-almost-end solution. It's the "almost end" part that has others waiting. There is no way to pipe 4K to the home yet, although display expert, ROAM consultant Pete Putnam notes that it's probably about 2 years away. Quite a number of Digital Cinema projectors can be converted to 4K, although I don't have hard numbers and expect it is a minority of the motion picture theaters in the US (please somebody correct me if I'm wrong). But Putnam pointed out something important (which I blogged about on the last day of NAB): The tail has been wagging the dog in that enthusiasms in the consumer sector have led manufacturers to create products to sate the consumer desire. That's the tail wagging the dog in Putnam's book and he thinks 4K is a good reversal of that trend, since 4K can and will be used by many different industry sectors before it hits TV screens. In other words: it's definitely not a fad.

That leads me to my third point...

3. Partnerships were perhaps the most important "news" of the show. What could be less glitzy but most important? All that talk about playing well with others? That's been going on for years, but I think everyone has not gotten the memo that survival into the future requires the synergies that come from not only integrating with but partnering with other companies' gear. I think this will be a very fruitful area for future developments.

4. Software As a Service. I hate to say I told you so (no, actually, I kind of like it)...The cloud isn't important to the end user; although the cloud intersects with the ordinary person's life in many different ways, it's all in the background, behind the green curtain. The cloud matters to M&E's manufacturers who can exploit it to create Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. Is this a good thing or a bad thing to the end user? On one hand, it's nice to know you don't have to pay for software when you're NOT using it. On the other hand, you're paying every month or week or day that you are. It's definitely a smart step for manufacturers looking for a way to monetize offerings in an increasingly file-based world. The end user? It's not so clear yet.

NAB 2013 was also full of things I didn't expect. It felt like a busy, healthy, good-vibe show. Monday was a busy day (as it always is) but so was Tuesday and, surprisingly, Wednesday and even Thursday, traditionally the day when exhibitors go visit other exhibits. The show floor was also quieter than in the past -- who could forget all the dueling presentations, as the volume increased upwards! Quite a number of booths were packed from the moment the show opened until the end: Adobe, Blackmagic Design, Autodesk, Avid and ARRI among them.

Of course NAB is always great for finding those new companies with cool technology. Look for my reviews of Axle, Epoch and PsyTech among others.

I'm looking forward to writing individual stories of the companies I visited, as it will allow me to revisit NAB at a bit of a distance. I'll savor it and I hope you do too.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 15, 2013 at 1:14:11 pmComments (8)

NAB 2013 - The Last Day

NAB 2013 had a really good vibe, all the way around. Yesterday's traffic was as busy as Monday and Tuesday and now, Thursday -- the day when you could roll the proverbial bowling ball down the aisle -- also seems crowded. One guy in the elevator said he scanned more cards on Tuesday than for the entire NAB 2012.

I had booth appointments this morning and did see a few interesting things. Axle -- which won a Best of IBC 2012 from TVBEurope -- was a small but very popular booth showing "radically simple media management" that installs in minutes and requires almost no training (more on that later) and Epoch, a company made up of former HP engineers, that has found a great behind-the-scenes way of managing a network of computers in-house and remote to maximize processing power. I'm not doing it justice in a few sentences so look for my after show write-up of both these companies.

More 4K: I was kidnapped by Neil Smith, CEO of LumaForge in West Hollywood, who integrates an Apple-based FCPX editing workflow in 4K all the way through final color correction and conform (as well as output to 4K and other resolutions). His company integrates the Apple and Apple compliant products for this end-to-end pipeline. Neil has promised me lunch in West Hollywood for a deeper look, so I'll be reporting on this.

Because Smith (and LumaForge) is an Apple beta tester, he was able to shed a little more light on what Apple is up to. Apparently the company does plan to re-enter the M&E space, having realized its errors with the FCPX introduction. Smith can't spill details, but he promises we'll all be interested in what Apple has up its sleeve, including with regard to customer support. It is all "coming soon."

Wrapping up NAB was a panel in the Post Pit, a co-production of the NAB Show and Hollywood Post Alliance. We had a great group of panelists representing many industry segments including post, broadcast, defense, display. The conversation about NAB 2013 was almost entirely 4K-centric. Pete Putnam, president of ROAM Consulting and a display expert, said that the dog has been wagging the tail with regard to the professional M&E industry having to react to trends that emerge from the consumer electronics market. He thinks that 4K will shift the equation. We're at least two years away from broadcasting 4K to the home, he says, but there are plenty of uses for 4K imagery in the professional market, from virtual reality to defense, corporate, medical. "These people have been waiting patiently," he said.

Everybody came looking for 4K products and were surprised by how much of it was real, as opposed to vaporware, at NAB 2013. The industry has moved much faster than anyone anticipated to make 4K products a reality. The other trend that people noticed was away from hardware to software; the panelists agreed with my assessment that the future will see a big shift to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model.

I expect that things will move quickly this coming year, with regard to various sectors of the market trying out 4K workflows -- not, obviously, for distribution to home TVs but possibly to movie theatres (Christie showed a pretty impressive 4K 120 fps display) and other possible uses. Don't be surprised if all kinds of people who can't distribute in 4K still shoot in 4K, for purposes of future-proofing.

That's it. I'm outta here, perhaps a little wiser and definitely a lot more tired. Watch for my post NAB reviews next week.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 11, 2013 at 12:41:34 pmComments (2)

NAB 2013 - Day 3 - 5 PM

The traffic on the NAB floor show is usually much lighter than Monday and Tuesday, but today the aisles were still as crowded as the first two days of the show. That's a surprise, and a pleasant one, especially since this is not a "big news" NAB. Thursday is traditionally the day that exhibitors finally get to roam the floor to visit friends and competitors. Let's see if tomorrow is quiet enough for them to do so.

I must be burning out because I continually went to appointments at the wrong time today. At least I didn't nearly walk into a wall or fall off a booth's step, both of which I did yesterday.

The press breakfast this morning was a traditional: AmberFin's Bruce Devlin gets together a group of journalist and poses a topic of conversation, to get us all chatting. He talked about how the past year he'd made about 45 Bruce's Shorts, short movies that educate the viewer about new technology. The impetus was going to meetings and having to define technology terms to potential clients.

This morning he posed an interesting question related to this current lack of engineering knowledge in our industry at the moment. Chief Engineers of broadcast stations are largely in their mid-40s to mid-50s. It's a graying industry, and their knowledge is not being passed on to the next generation. Why? Face it, if you're a bright young person interested in math and science and engineering, you'd rather get a job with Google. There is nothing sexy or hip about TV engineering. If young people are interested in TV, it's to be on-camera talent or a producer.

What makes the problem worse is that college professors teaching engineering have often been out of the field for years and don't know some of the more recent technologies evolving in the TV station. They're too busy teaching to learn and there are scant opportunities to do so. We agreed as a group that publications in the field can play an important role in disseminating information by the articles we write, with an eye towards educating. I'm particularly interested in stories of 4K production, especially in the TV broadcast arena (yes, it is happening) and have a lead on a very cool story I hope to be able to research and write soon.

Oh, and later in the day, I ran into a TV broadcast professor from a college in Nebraska who pretty much confirmed everything we'd discussed in the morning breakfast.

I visited eyeon, which is contributing heavily to Douglas Trumbull's new HFR 4K movie, UFOTOG, which will be finished in May. I spoke with the editor and hope to be able to bring you a story about his work soon.

GenArts introduced Sapphire 7 at the show and, to celebrate its 15th year in business as a company, offered it at half-off (at NAB only, sorry). According to General Manager Frederick Rasmussen, the new tools are particularly handy for Avid users. Of the many new features the Beauty and the Pan-and-Zoom tools are apparently the most popular.

Ultra HD or 4K - I saw much more of that today, although, as I said yesterday, the hype was quite muted (and that's a good thing). Colorfront, which has added new features to its OnSet Dailies and ExpressDailies (which are white-labeled to everyone from Technicolor to Light Iron Digital), was showcased as part of a 4K post production workflow in the Canon booth. Quantel was there too with its Pablo Rio.

Codex showed its workflow with a range of the highest-resolution cameras, including Sony F55 and F65, Canon C500, RED Epic and ARRI Alexa. The color pipeline is now fully ACES compliant, says Sarah Priestnall. Codex is demonstrating dailies with ColorFront, Assimilate and Firefly a French company. The company also showed a Codex Review module but more on that in my post-NAB coverage.

Adobe also stressed its commitment to a 4K workflow. "We've been supporting 4K since Creative Suite 5," said Bill Roberts who noted the constant conversations about 4K as well as 50p and 60p workflows. What's the impediment? Three words, said Roberts: Fast Disk Drives. Anyway, our conversation ranged over Adobe's stance with regard to 3D Stereo and its path to 4K and beyond as well as HFR. More on that in a post-show wrap-up.

More 4K at the Sony Creative Software booth where I learned that Sony Vegas 12 now supports 4K images natively on the timeline: Connect your device to the camera, drag the files in and edit them like any other files. The other big news was round-trip editing with the Panasonic P2, a feature aimed mainly at broadcast teams in the field.

In addition to showing a 4K post production workflow, Canon showed a pretty cool 4K monitor and its new entry-level HD cameras, the XA-20 and XA-25, at $2199 and $2699 respectively. "We've been focusing pretty heavily on the maximization of 4K," said Technical Information Advisor Chuck Westfall. And I also heard cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC (and President of the International Camera Guild) present Rhythm of Life, a short film shot with the Canon C-500. Steven promised Creative COW the story on how this 4K movie was made, so stay tuned for that too.

And one more thing...while in the Sony booth, I checked out the big screen 4K and big screen 3D, both very cool. But I was hypnotized, I mean literally hypnotized by the company's 56-inch OLED display. Really amazing, absolutely loved it!

As always it is hard to believe that the last four days have sped by so fast (I'm including Sunday, the day I ran all over Las Vegas for press events). But I do have some appointments tomorrow and I'm particularly interested in seeing Epoch and Axle. And I will be moderating a panel at the HPA Post Pit that wraps up NAB 2013. I'll be sitting with five panelists from different parts of the industry talking about the best and most surprising things they saw here. I'll try to take notes while I moderate and share their experiences with you.

Oh, and I almost forgot to swag EVER, a cute little Moleskine notebook from Shutterstock, a very cool stock footage company that makes it very easy to FIND what you want, and looks like a potentially tantalizing place to sell footage as well. Have some cool video clips (or still photos) you want to buy or sell? Check it out...

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:49:31 pm

NAB 2013: Day 3 at 7:30 am

Oh yeah, I've been up awhile. I'm on my way to a press breakfast, the first of ten appointments today (it'll probably end up being 12 or 13). I hope to have more time to blog later in the day, but since the only WiFi is in the press room, I wanted to get in a few words.

First, a few things I forgot to write yesterday: finally met Kylee Wall, COW blogger extraordinaire This is her 2nd NAB and my 24th NAB. She's having a great time at the Small Tree booth with Walter Biscardi. It was great to finally meet her in person and chat about how crazy this show can be.

SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) had an ice cream social yesterday for students. How cool is that? Past President Peter Lude told me that they would have great attendance without the ice cream but, hey, it never hurts to tempt people with ice cream. I didn't have time to stop, but when I walked by, I saw it was a very crowded event.

Today I'm going to have several interesting appointments, including camera companies ARRI and Canon, as well as Codex and a one-on-one with Bill Roberts of Adobe. I'll check in later in the day to let you know what I see and hear on the floor.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 10, 2013 at 7:44:14 am

NAB 2013 Day 2: What I'm thankful for

First, let me count the things I'm thankful for. My comfortable shoes -- not Hush Puppies this year but these cool Munro shoes I inherited from my mother. Second, my almost-brand new laptop, an HP Pavilion dm1 Notebook PC. I did not want to spend the money for an UltraBook or an iPad 3 but I wanted something light and small with a full keyboard. This laptop rocks, love it! Third, the mango lasse drinks at the India Origin restaurant in the South Lower hall. I did not have time to wait in the insanely long food lines nor did I want to just eat potato chips. This is my new "lunch" solution.

But mainly, I'm thankful for all the cool people who came up to introduce themselves to me. It has been so, so great meeting COW readers from around the world. One guy recognized my voice from the recent pre-NAB Editor's Lounge that I moderated! I have written for some pretty high profile publications, such as Wired, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, American Cinematographer, and never had people stop me in the halls or convention floor to introduce themselves and talk. What a friendly great crowd of people COW readers are! I appreciate it - so please do introduce yourself if you see me wandering down the NAB aisle...

I'm really beginning to burn out a little bit today. I've seen so many interesting products and had so many interesting conversations with company executives and engineers. One thing that has kind of surprised me about the show is that UltraHD (aka 4K) just isn't being pushed as much as I thought it would be. I think there's definitely a wariness among at least some manufacturers about producing gear for a format that is so niche at the moment. I'm not really seeing anyone push UltraHD with the same kind of fervor that, say, HD was once pushed.

More inexpensive technologies: Grass Valley is introducing Flex,an entry-level camera with CMOS technology. But the cool thing about Flex is GV's E-Licensing which means you can buy the camera as a capital cost but then license the software on a temporary, by-project basis. Almost like a SaaS model.

MTI Film -- known for its high-end ControlDailies -- is also reaching out to a tiered range of customers, beginning with a new Cortex ControlDailies that starts at $1K and goes up to a top price of $15K. That's democratizing the technology! The difference in the tiers is strictly the number of formats that can be output. So the various tiers have been organized based on what sector of the industry is likely to need certain formats; for example, the DP Edition can output to Quicktime JPEG and/or H.264 (for all those iPad reviews). Oh, and I almost forgot...there's a FREE version that also gets all the updates as the paid versions. Its limitation is that it only outputs to QuickTime Photo JPEG.

More free stuff at the Boris FX booth. The company is between versions so they decided to give away something cool: a VFX browser (did I mention it was free?). It gives the user access to view all the presets and effects on his/her hard drive, viewing it on any NLE. It also records the history of your browsing. The limitation? You can look but you can't touch. If you want to render, you've got to turn to Boris Continuum. This will be a download sometime later this quarter.

Panasonic had a lot of beautiful stuff to show including a 4K monitor, all running on its newish compression scheme, as well as a model of Varicam 3 (much, much more on all this later).

I had a really cool visit at the JMR booth where I found out that this company is the one that put together gear for Douglas Trumbull's high-res, high-frame rate cinema projects. This is a really interesting story and the folks at JMR have been quiet on it for some time. I'll be telling that story soon. JMR was also kind enough to host Joust, a new digital management software (aimed at the VFX industry) from VFX producer Jenny Fulle, who runs The Creative-Cartel. The whole goal here is to automate and streamline processes that eat up hundreds of man/woman hours in the production/post process. More specifically, a dailies/VFX viewer, transcoding, and pre-conforms are the main tools offered. Fulle started developing the tools in-house at Creative Cartel and then decided to offer them to a bigger market. She'll begin licensing it soon, so stay tuned for more info on this.

ATTO now has -- count 'em -- 64 partners, up from35 in 2010, and is celebrating its 25th anniversary of providing enabling technology to the many more familiar names (Everyone from Adobe to Toshiba). The company also showed some new technology I'll be detailing after the show.

I'm going to be seeing Quantel in a half hour or so. From the press conference on Sunday, it looks like they've come up with some very forward-thinking tools. This is the company that just keeps successfully reinventing itself. I never ever count them out, and besides I get to see one of my best NAB buddies Roger Thornton.

The Super Meet is just starting at the RIO, and AJA is having its big blow-out party tonight. My evening is going to be quieter: dinner and drinks with friends. If you're at the show, I hope you're having a great time. If you're not, we wish you were here, but we'll keep you in the loop.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 9, 2013 at 4:24:23 pm

End of Day 1: the buzz is...very little buzz

But that's a good thing, really. Have customers gotten savvy to the "we're the best thing since sliced bread" mentality? Are they fed up with products that are promised to ship next month only to find out it's next month plus six or eight more months? At the AJA press conference this morning, President Nick Rashby set out the company's new rule: only talking about shipping products. The company has plenty of new products that are shipping, including Ki Pro Quad for Canon C500 and Ki Pro Quad for Sony F55 (along with numerous other products I'll detail in a post-NAB report). But Rashby threw down the gauntlet, not just for other companies but for his own. Can AJA stick to the no-hype rule? Time will tell.

In the meantime, AJA announced plenty of the examples I gave in yesterday's blog about partnerships being the new coin of the realm: Quantel, Adobe, Avid, Fuji, Blackmagic Design, get the idea.

How long has our industry talked about the importance of open solutions? I like the fact that the companies themselves are being pro-active in seeking out and creating valuable partnerships. Kudos to all.

I mentioned Blackmagic Design's new cameras earlier today but left out the news about the new DaVinci Resolve 10 which is massively upgraded, especially when it comes to online editing, for the new price of $995. I love the fact that you could get a pocket digital camera and professional color grading/editing tool for under $2,000. Add Avid's new Media Composer for the equally amazing price of $999 and you're in business.

Speaking of Avid, the company has a lot to show this year (again, which I'll go into in detail post-NAB), but suffice it to say it's all about making file-based workflows much easier. THe company unveiled Interplay Sphere for Mac, which allows all your Mac-based editors to move to Tahiti. Oh, and probably the biggest news: an entirely retooled ProTools 11 with a redesigned audio engine and tons of new features. Double the processing speed as V. 10, exponentially more virtual instruments, and lots more memory. A 2-hour movie that would have bounced to disk in 2 hours can now take a mere 48 seconds, says Avid.

At Autodesk, the consumer market is growing by leaps and bounds (Sketchbook now has 15+ million users) but the company continues to be committed to the professional market. Smoke (priced at $3495) is gaining a lot of new users from new market segments, including corporate video. At the same time, the plight of the VFX industry (as detailed in my two-parter VFX at a Crossroads) is very much on the minds of everyone at Autodesk, which is looking for ways to make VFX houses ever more efficient. And partners galore. Autodesk announced a strong two-sided partnership with Quantel, Adobe, Avid and, the newest, High Resolution Systems (HRS, a company that does automation software for AV gear.

OK, I'm off to clink champagne glasses with the good folks at Anton Bauer, who are celebrating the Academy of Motion Pictures & Arts Scientific & Technology Award. More tomorrow.

Posted by: Debra Kaufman on Apr 8, 2013 at 5:21:31 pm

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