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Sunday, 23 September 2012 06:00

IBC 2012 Revisited

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The city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands was once again an ideal setting for IBC2012. Broadcasters and filmmakers from around the world gathered to discuss technology and trends that will ultimately transcend how consumers will be entertained. The location was beautiful and the weather perfect, and everything from the traffic to each IBC event flowed seamlessly.

The attendance figures for this year’s event at the RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre were reported to be an impressive 50,937.

When compared with IBC2011, which had record total of 50,462 attendees, IBC2012 grew 0.93 percent. “From the caliber of visitors and delegates we attract to the whole experience we provide, IBC is all about quality,” says IBC CEO Michael Crimp. “That we have drawn a record audience at a time when there are still economic challenges in many parts of the world, and when broadcasters are dealing with massive events like the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games and U.S. presidential elections, clearly shows that, above all, IBC is relevant to people at every level in our industry.”

Indeed, IBC2012 offered attendees a wealth of information. For starters, Grammy Award-winning Recording Artist will.i.am opened with the IBC2012 Convention Keynote “Creativity and img_2916Technology Forces Combine: Transcend the Barriers of Convention and Rethink What Can Be Achieved,” which was co-hosted by Intel Corporation’s Johan Jervøe. The IBC Big Screen 1,700-seat auditorium hosted conference sessions and special movie screenings, while several exhibitors used the other RAI facilities to demonstrate their products. Canon, ARRI and RED Digital all showcased exciting footage shot with the latest digital cinema cameras, and conference sessions included “Exploring 3D: The New Grammar of Stereoscopic Filmmaking,” “Hyper-Reality: High-Res Digital Cameras Transforming Filmmaking” and “Start-to-End Digital Production Tools.” Plus, there was a special screening Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning film Hugo 3D.

The IBC showroom floor provided all the latest news and information. There was quite a stir at the Panasonic booth with the new AJ-HPX600. This lightweight, shoulder-mounted camcorder has a single 2/3-inch CMOS sensor that works well in low-light situations. But the thing that makes this camera extra special is that it’s upgradable. While it comes with AVC-Intra 100/50, DV and DVCPRO formats, customers can upgrade by adding 50Mbps long GOP recording and AVC-Ultra at 200Mbps as they become available.
  
For the DSLR market, Nikon is taking giant steps with the introduction of the Nikon D4, its new professional digital SLR camera. The D4 is fitted with a new 16.2-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor backed up by a new EXPEED 3 image processor. This combination will deliver high dynamic range and low noise across a wide range of ISO settings. But what’s really impressive is that standard ISO settings (ranging from 100 to 12,800) can be extended to 50 on the low end and 204,800 on the high end. Nikon went all out at IBC by creating different work stations to showcase the D4, including ISO and rolling-shutter test stations.

blackmagic cinema cameraAttendees also flocked to the Blackmagic Design booth for a glimpse of the second edition of the Blackmagic Cinema camera, which many compare to the Canon C500. The camera features a passive Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount and is adaptable to other lens mounts, such as PL via third-party adapters. It’s identical to the original camera introduced at this year’s NAB but doesn’t include lens communication (other professional lenses can be used). Blackmagic also introduced two new Mini Converters. The Mini Converter SDI to HDMI 4K and the SDI Multiplex were designed to allow easy monitoring and connections for 4K workflows (users will find these useful for getting in and out of Thunderbolt workflows).

The big news at the AJA Video Systems booth involves the Corvid Ultra. The latest in AJA’s Corvid family of OEM technologies, the Ultra delivers I/O, processing and scaling for multi-format 4K/2K and HD/dual-link/SD workflows. With AJA’s proven technology, users can incorporate Ultra into software applications or hardware systems to facilitate high bandwidth/frame-rate performance.

I also enjoyed seeing all the new glass that’s now available from the lens manufacturers. Carl Zeiss displayed the new Compact Zoom CZ.2 28–80/T2.9. This cine zoom lens is the company’s second Compact Zoom CZ.2 and it’s easy to handle and ideally suited to a wide variety of shooting situations. It takes pictures in 4K, has five different mounts (PL, EF, F, MFT and E), and can be easily adapted to numerous camera systems. A visit to the Thales Angénieux booth led to the discovery of the company’s new Optimo 19.5–94mm film zoom lens. This high-end lens features image coverage up to 31.4mm (diagonal), making it ideal for the full-frame 5K format of the RED EPIC and similar cameras. The Optimo 19.5–94mm features a 4.7x zoom with a fast aperture of T2.6 (wide open). Time-saving functionality includes a 329-degree focus rotation with over 50 calibrated focus-witness marks for precise focusing in feet or meters. And Cooke Optics was on hand to promote its /i “Intelligent” Technology that enables film and digital cameras to automatically record and display key lens and camera data for every film frame (which can then be provided digitally to postproduction teams). According to Cooke Chairman Les Zellan, this helps to streamline angenieuproduction and post, save time and cost, and eliminate guesswork while enabling greater creative freedom.

IBC 2012 also had some bright lighting announcements. At the Litepanels booth, I was introduced to the new Sola 12 and Inca 12 LED Fresnel fixtures. The Sola 12 offers daylight-balanced output while the Inca 12 is tungsten balanced. It was explained that having many large lights of this size can create a dark spot or “doughnut” look, but these new LEDs provide a nice, even beam from the center to the edge, enabling a consistent light reading. Both lights use the DMX512 protocol for focus and dimming, or you can manually control the light on the back of the fixture. Plus, these LEDs stay cool while running on AC or battery power (Litepanels used an Anton/Bauer brick to power one of the lights). The Nila booth showcased the Nila Varsa, the company’s newest LED lighting fixture. Drawing only 75 watts at 100 percent, the Varsa offers a lot of punch in a small package and is an excellent replacement for a 200-watt HMI or 600-watt tungsten fixture. Plus, it can be powered AC or DC and is completely air-cooled, so noise won’t be a factor.

Canon EOS C300 or C500 users will be happy to know that Anton/Bauer has introduced the QRC-CA940 Gold Mount battery plate. To streamline the battery management for these Canon high-end camcorders, the QRC-CA940 provides 7.2 volts of power to the camera via a DC connector and 14.4 volts on three PowerTap connectors, allowing users to power multiple accessories. In addition, this particular Gold Mount was designed so users won’t have to monitor multiple batteries (reducing downtime in the field). It also reduces the number of chargers needing to be transported.

img_2996For portable audio mixing with DSLRs, Azden unveiled the FMX-32A, a professional portable mixer that uses the same circuit topology found in more expensive mixers. With improved signal-to-noise ratio and wider frequency response, the new FMX-32A is a small, all-metal, battery-operated (via six AAs) mixer that can be attached directly to the camera with the supplied fastener. It has three XLR microphone inputs (each with two level settings), three input level controls, a master level control and switchable phantom power.

Sound Devices also introduced a portable sound mixer. The company upgraded its 552 production mixer to the new flagship 664 production mixer that offers expanded input/output connectivity and recording capabilities, along with better flexibility and ease of use. Its six input channels have dedicated controls for trim, fader, pan and PFL. The inputs and four output buses are all recordable for a total of 10 tracks of recording.

If you’re looking for a good audio monitoring device, the U.K.’s Television Systems Limited has a neat little device called the PAM PiCo. This compact yet comprehensively equipped standalone audio and loudness meter features StarFish surround-sound display. It’s available in three formats to display stereo, multichannel or surround-sound audio from analog, AES or embedded SDI signal sources.

Several production support-bag companies ventured to IBC 2012. CineBags has a new bag to accommodate the slew of new cameras being released. The CB40 High Roller is the company’s first camera bag to incorporate a retractable telescope arm and wheels. It’s a good bag of choice for the Canon Cinema EOS C300, RED EPIC and other medium-sized cameras and their accessories, including base plates, monitors, rods, matte box, batteries and chargers. It also has a compartment to accommodate a 15-inch laptop. Petrol Bags showed a full line of professional carrying bags, protective cases and accessories for HD to DV cameras, lighting, audio, support and other production equipment. The bag that most caught my eye was the PC300 Deca Shell Camera Backpack. This is a terrific bag to use for traveling to remote areas with DSLR cameras and lenses. Sporting a sleek, ergonomic shell design, it’s a padded backpack system with removable internal dividers of hook-and-loop material to create pockets for lenses and other fragile content.

A walk through the Sony booth was very enlightening, especially for those looking for new tools in post and post audio. The Sony Creative side of the booth gave demos of SpectraLayers, an img_3140extraordinary audio editing platform that features unprecedented sound-shaping capabilities combined with a unique workflow. With audio data viewed on a multidimensional spectral display, it’s simple to use and will get rid of any unwanted sounds that are picked up on location. It’s an essential application for professionals who demand the deepest audio analysis tools. Sony also demonstrated its Vegas Pro 12, which builds on the tradition of Vegas Pro but includes approximately 40 new features, including the ability to product exchange with other platforms (like Apple Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, DaVinci Resolve, Avid ProTools and other preferred editing tools). This will allow editors to collaborate with other creative people in the market. Vegas Pro 12 will come in two versions: The traditional Vegas Pro collection will include Vegas Pro 12, DVD Architect Pro 5.2 and Dolby Digital Professional Encoder, for an all-around editing-to-disc solution. And for those wanting only the editing and audio applications, Vegas Pro 12 Edit features the same video and audio editing toolset as the Vegas Pro 12 collection (without the disc-authoring step) and will sell for much less.

The Autodesk booth announced that their flagship VFX Flame software has been completely overhauled for Flame’s 20th anniversary. (Yes, it’s been 20 years since Flame was first introduced.) The new Flame Premium 2013 provides enhanced integration between effects, audio, editorial, conform and grading. A high-end software toolset that integrates visual effects, editorial and real-time color grading, this Flame edition streamlines complex tasks and improves speed with a new creative workspace, top-level editorial timeline integration and an enhanced GPU pipeline.

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