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New products for Final Cut Pro and Avid at NAB.

Many people said that not much happened at NAB in 2005. Perhaps they were asleep, or perhaps they don't consider that the entire video industry is changing right beneath them.


Perhaps they can't accept the fact that industry standard Beta VTR's are no longer being manufacturered. Perhaps they can't deal with the fact that tube CRT monitor, that we have used for our entire careers, are no longer being manufacturered by Sony and Panasonic. Maybe they want things to be just the way they are – they don't want change. Well guess what, ITS ALL CHANING WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.

Someone described NAB2005 in two words, and it was an accurate description, HI DEF. The people that say that hi def is never going to happen, and that their clients won't change, are the people that will be out of business in a few years. Everyone is being forced into Hi Def, and every manufacturer showed Hi Def products. Hi Def has arrived, and more importantly, CHEAP HI DEF has arrived, and like it or not, this is the way that we will work, starting RIGHT NOW.

I can sit and discuss all the incredible hi end production formats, but let's face it, most of us are not going to see the most expensive fully uncompressed HD footage, at least not yet. But there are several products that are available now for production that we will all see very soon. Sony has released the HDV camera and Sony HDV VTR, which will bring Sony HD "to the rest of us". Sony has developed this product to be ideally used with firewire editing, with such edit systems as Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas.


But many of us 'old school editors' want to know, how do you hook it up to your AVID, or existing FCP edit system. AJA came out with wonderful inexpensive converters that will take the analog HD signal and convert it to HD-SDI, and take the analog audio from the Sony HDV VTR and convert it to AES/EBU audio, so it can go right into your AVID Adrenaline HD system, or Final Cut Pro HD system.

Panasonic released the new incredible HDX-200 camera, which is a true 24p HD camera, like the Varicam. that records in the DVCProHD format. but unfortunately it only works with the new P2 memory cards that Panasonic is pushing as the new recording medium. Will we all be forced into buying P2 players? Who knows, but this format looks amazing. and plenty of people are running out to order this amazing HD camera that sells for under $10,000. Many post houses fear their first client that walks in with these P2 cards and says "edit this".

Of course the Panasonic Varicam was there in force, and within the last year, has taken the HD world by storm. The acceptance of Panasonic as the major player in HD is shocking to those of us that have seen Sony dominate the professional video market for as long as we can remember. The relatively inexpensive Panasonic AJ-HD1200A HD VTR that Panasonic introduced last NAB has become the most popular HD VTR for HD edit suites for two reasons.


One, it's cheaper than anything else on the market, and two, there are A LOT of Panasonic Varicam cameras out there shooting HD footage for this VTFR. The AJ-HD1200A works just like any Sony VTR in a conventional edit system, but of course, its HD. It will upconvert DV and DVCPro tapes to HD too, making it quite attractive to newcomers of HD.

At NAB, Apple was king, and all the important support companies talked about Final Cut Pro, and showed countless support products and hardware for Final Cut Pro. With Apple's introduction of Multicam, and multi audio channel support, no one can question weather Apple can compete with companies like AVID in the hi end professional market, especially because of their incredible alliances with companies that make HD hardware.

AJA is a company that cannot be ignored. They make incredible hardware for Final Cut Pro. Incredible because it is great quality, incredible because it is cheap, and as proven at this NAB, incredible because their upgrades are FREE. That's right, FREE. All of the new AJA features, frame sync TBC for the AJA I/O, real time upconversion of SD to HD for the Kona 2, are FREE UPGRADES. This helped add loyalty to AJA's client base, who always received great value from them, and now does not have to suffer financially as they come out with new features for the existing hardware. AJA also showed lots of their little amazing converters, like the HDP, which converts HD-SDI into a DVI signal, so you can use a relatively cheap computer monitor to see the full resolution HD signal. As I mentioned earlier, they showed a full series of converters to convert the Sony HDV VTR into standard HD SDI and AES/EBU audio, to get into normal HD edit systems. They even had an audio embedder, to get the audio into the SDI video stream, if you use SDI Audio on your Digi Beta or HD VTRs.

Blackmagic was right up there as well. Blackmagic, the maker of the Decklink series of products, showed many new products, but one of the most exciting was the new Multibridge Studio.

This product, that can be used with Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, or Sony Vegas, converts ANYTHING TO ANYTHING, that's right, composite video to HD, and everything else you can think of. AND it's got a HD SDI to DVI converter built right into the box. AND it's got a black generator built right into the box. AND it's got a tri level sync generator built right into the box, for those 23.98 Sony projects. This product is priced at $3500. This is the same price as the CHEAPEST tri level sync generator manufactured. HOW CAN THEY DO IT AT THIS PRICE. This product will work as a stand alone converter, so you can use it on ANY NLE. Amazing.


Blackmagic had more. They have the most exciting router on the market. It's a 12x24 HD SDI router that can also handle (and autodetect) standard SDI signals with embedded audio. The second set of 12 outputs can be used as HD SDI downconverters to standard SDI. And it has 12 RS422 9 pin ports that can also be routed. This product only costs $4999. HOW CAN THEY DO IT? There is no router on the market that even comes close to this price point that provides HD SDI with embedded audio, AND RS422. Amazing.

Storage, oh, I can take an hour to discuss storage. The new technology that exists out there is amazing. SATA storage is here, and the well known companies are selling it. Both Lacie and G-Tech (some of the old Medea folks) are selling 400 Gigs of SATA storage (fast enough for 8 and 10 bit SDI and DVCProHD, for $400 with the controller card. That's no typo folks, that's $400. And 800 Gigs for $800 ! Do you know how much storage that is. Almost no AVID anywhere has 800 gigs of storage on it, and you can get this for FCP for $800 ! And I am not saying that it doesn't work with AVID, I just have not tried it yet, but I sure will.

There were other amazing storage things out there, but I am still nervous about them, but it's coming (and maybe it's here). ProMax showed the big 2 and 3.2 Terabyte SATA arrays that outperformed any SCSI array on the market, and yes, these DO uncompressed HD SDI. But are they stable? Stay tuned, as this technology will be very stable during 2005, and most of you will say "why the hell am I buying any SCSI storage".

I am only mentioning some companies here, but everything from HUGE Systems, Medea, G-Tech, Lacie, ADTX, Rorke, Studio Network Solutions, etc. was great. There is so much to choose from. And all of it costs a HELL of a lot less than you ever spent ever before.

NAB proved that the playing field is changing. NAB proved that you don't have to have a lot of money to build and buy an HD edit suite. NAB proved that you can have a LOT of drive storage for not much money. NAB proved that HD is not just for those big houses in LA that have millions of dollars to spend on it. But most important, I learned that this business is changing, and those that don't adapt to it will be pushed aside, as these new products make wonderful pictures, and with the combination of HD video and the massive LCD and Plasma screens that will be everywhere, someone looking at a Beta tape on a 19" TV monitor will not be very impressed for much longer.

I also learned that even if you hate the Final Cut Pro editing application, you better learn what it can and cannot do, as there are countless young users out there that will try to outperform you with their new, inexpensive equipment.

Bob Zelin

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Star Wars Revelations Movie - under 20k? is the next entry in this blog.

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