Keynote by James Cameron and Vince Pace
NAB Show 2011 opening session keynote
James Cameron and Vince Pace have started a new company called the Cameron-Pace Group together to help content creators shoot 3D seamlessly—to “layer” 3D onto 2D without any additional effort (aside from engaging their company, that is). Cameron-Pace Group builds and deploys “shadow boxes,” which are 3D camera systems that piggyback onto traditional 2D broadcast cameras. The 3D shadow box reads zoom and focus information from the 2D camera lens and automatically positions the 3D shadow box so the cameras intersect the target. All zooms, pans, and focusing is synchronized with the 2D camera, except that a 3D team sits in a mobile studio and adjusts shots—live—to make sure each one works in 3D. This may mean that the remote 3D operator decides to shoot wider when the 2D operator goes in tight. Cameron emphasized that a 3D production should be just as good in 2D, and that one doesn’t need to stage shots specifically for 3D. They also said that existing film crews have decades of experience in their respective domains. It doesn’t make sense to put a 3D team in place that has no domain expertise. Rely on the guys who have experience!
Del Mar Housing Projects
The first thing I saw when I walked onto the show floor was a bright orange underwater housing of some sort, which turned out to be a housing by Del Mar Housing Projects for the Panasonic AG-3DA1 3D video camera. The company produces housing primarily for surf photography, which is why I had never heard of them.
GoPro recently sold their 200,000th unit—huge success! Their booth was huge, had a couple race cars in it, and had a line overflowing out in the hallway for show-discount orders. Their new 3D HERO system incorporates Cineform software, which is industry-leading in terms of simple 3D-clip editing.
Travis’ octocopter with GoPro attached
GoPro was also showing another 3D prototype with 3 cameras (synchronized via daisy-chaining) to allow 3 different inter-ocular distances.
Prototype 3-camera 3D GoPro HERO system
Ikonoskop: RAW video
Swedish company Ikonoskop was demoing their “a-cam dII,” a 1080p video camera that shoots and records in uncompressed RAW (Cinema DNG, which Adobe video editing software supports natively).
The a-cam shoots 30p today, but 60p will be deployed via firmware update. The cameras shoots to a proprietary 160GB SSD; during development, existing SSDs weren’t fast enough (their media writes at 240 MB/s). An upgraded a-cam dII also supports synchronization with a 2nd camera for 3D capture.
I really like the idea of the Ikonoskop for underwater video: its form factor seems to be underwater-housing friendly, and it’s smaller, lighter and cheaper than a housed RED camera. Someone, please make a housing!
RED was showing off EPIC cameras by using them to capture video of a tattoo parlor they set up at the front of their booth. Gates Underwater Housings recently announced the DEEP EPIC underwater housing, which will house a RED EPIC for around $20K.
RED’s booth had a tattoo parlor in front
Sony had its water-resistant HXR-NX70U compact NXCAM camcorder in an aquarium with water spraying on it. This is a welcome change from normal camcorders, which are incredibly fragile when exposed to the marine environment. When I was in Antarctica with the Whale Wars TV crew, I watched as their Sony FX7 cameras were claimed one by one by salt water.
The Sony HXR-NX70U water-resistant camcorder
The Underwater Crowd
Speaking of Gates Housings, I bumped into John Ellerbrock (CEO, Gates Housings) in the hallway, who was chatting with Pete Romano (CEO, HydroFlex). We rounded up Bob Cranston (DP and cameraman), Evan Kovacs (Woods Hole field ops and cameraman), and a few other underwater types and went out for drinks. The folks over at Woods Hole use 3D rigs a lot, and are one of the few research institutions with true expertise in underwater 3D. I also got to spend some time with Chris Parsons (Nauticam), which was great.
Me, with Bob Cranston (underwater DP and cameraman)
Ultralight Control Systems
Dave and Terry from Ultralight Control Systems have a booth at NAB this year and are showing their popular underwater mounting accessories. They have a prototype cage for the GoPro BacPac LCD on display. If you’re still at the show, be sure to check them out! (Booth C-10138)
In September, I reviewed PluralEyes, a plugin for Final Cut Pro that synchronizes multiple tracks on the timeline. I reviewed PluralEyes in the context of a 3D production with unsynchronized consumer cameras, but it is obviously useful for any multi-camera or camera + audio shoots. I went over to the Singular Software booth to chat with Bruce Sharpe (their CEO) and to see what was new.
Bruce Sharpe, CEO of Singular Software
Since last year, Singular Software has released PluralEyes for AVID Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro, and Sony Vegas Pro. Singular Software has also developed a new product called Presto, which automatically generates presentation videos that incorporate original slides. Presto requires two video tracks (video of the presenter and video of the projection screen—for sync data, only) and the original slide images (Powerpoint or Keynote), and will automatically build a presentation video incorporating the presenter and original presentation slides. Presto is available for Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas Pro.
Las Vegas is a weird place. My $52 got me a penthouse suite at the Riviera, which I’m sure was incredible place when it was built, back in the 50s. And now? Not so incredible.
The bathroom at the Las Vegas Hilton
If you’re in Vegas for a convention and like Japanese food, go to Ichiza, which is just a couple miles west of the strip. It’s very authentic. ;)