As in many years previous, Visual Departures was in Las Vegas last week to support the Dedolight team, as we are a major distributor of their products in the U.S. It's always wonderful to reconnect in-the-flesh with Dedo Weigert and the rest of our colleagues; some of them having made the trip from Germany, some merely from California. At any rate, now we're back from NAB 2013 and, once again, looking back on everything we saw there and trying to make sense of all the new technology.
Firstly, it was definitely the Year of the Drone. Unless the FAA steps in soon, the skies above every traffic accident, playing field (including those for kids’ sports), and natural disaster site will be filled with remote-controlled aircraft carrying all kinds of cameras from the GoPro to full-frame DSLRs. I imagine crane rental companies will need to start offering drones very soon, if they haven't already. Some of the larger units on display have eight rotors and cost in the thousands, but the big crowd attraction was the Phantom from DJI, who had a display with a huge enclosed tower for demos and practice flights.
The Phantom is already fitted for the GoPro camera, whose always-packed booth was right next door. Just like last year, they’re showing the way for everyone from amateur skateboarders to network sports departments. The daily frenzy over give-aways led Mason Massey to turn himself into a walking GoPro in the hope (successful) of winning a free camera.
Spend an hour watching real-time demos of the latest rendering software like Maxon’s Cineware and you may think it’s time to give up on live-action video completely. By the way, here’s something from Abekas that should be scaled down for the dinner table when your kids suddenly discover inappropriate language: the "AirCleaner" profanity elimination system.
With new lenses by Zeiss and Schneider, the use of DSLRs for video shows no signs of slowing down (or does it?) I didn’t get to see it in person, but the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera ($995 without lens), which uses Micro Four Thirds optics generated a lot of buzz. This will definitely be the tool of choice for journalists working in difficult environments. One of my colleagues also came back reporting on a rig for using the iPad as a production camera; hope it looks a bit less embarrassing than this.
And through all this, the marketplace for LED lighting just gets more confused. While Dedolight and other great, established companies like Mole-Richardson and Arri produce superb LED fixtures (both flat-panel and focusing Fresnel-type), there seem to be dozens of companies making really bad, cheap lights in the belief that everything can be ‘fixed in post.’ This is not the attitude people ought to take towards their craft.
Spend many hours at a show like NAB, and you eventually have to take a break to rest your feet and eat something. Fortunately, the location of the Dedolight booth made sure you were tastefully lit while you sat on the floor with an overpriced sandwich.