This was my 10th (or so) NAB, my second since I retired as a Cinematographer a few years ago. Like always, I drove from my home in British Columbia to Las Vegas, a route that traverses some of the most scenic landscapes in North America.
The Sony booth is always near the top of my must-see list. They showed a 4K 3D system that used nearly invisible passive glasses that resolved 3D on an 85 inch screen. At a ten foot viewing distance, this system delivered a superb viewing experience. Despite the nay-sayers, I think that 3D has a future. There's a very good reason that nearly every animal on planet Earth has two eyes.
Sony also demo'd AMOLED monitors that appeared to present to the viewer the same dynamic range as a sunny day. The monitors were extremely bright and the colour saturation was beyond anything I've seen other than in the real world. Quite extraordinary.
Viewing these amazing displays, I asked a Sony Engineer: "Why can't we buy these yet? What's taking so long?"
"Angstroms", he said. "And tolerances in the order of a few layers of molecules."
That adds up to very low production yields. It's going to be a while yet before we see these in our homes.
UAVs for filming were everywhere on the show floor and in the air, for that matter. Quadcopters capable of transporting a RED for nearly half an hour were at one booth, and another group showed a quadcopter that could easily carry something like a Sony NX series camera for under $300. I met the designer/pilot of the "Flying Cam", a French UAV that is pretty well the state of the art. Its all up weight is in the order of 25kG and was used to film the rooftop motorcycle chase in "Skyfall". For a guy that earned a large part of his living for years shooting aerials for the film business, it was quite an education. Now, you can buy a cinema-quality aerial photography setup for less than the cost of a single day aerial shoot from a few years ago. I just got out of this business in time. http://www.fcpxland.com/battle-flying-cameras-nab-2013-3866/
One of the highlights of my visit for the last few NABs is to visit The Lens. Ever watch baseball on TV? The shot that never fails to blow me away is a chest shot of the batter with the catcher and the ump in the background. Just exactly how do they get that shot? The camera is in straightaway center field, at least 400 ft away.
They do it with a Canon DigiSuper, a beast of a lens whose effective zoom range is 100X and whose longest focal length is nearly 2000 mm. It's really a telescope, not a telephoto. The Lens is mounted on a camera and you're free to walk up and try your hand at camera operating, baseball-style. So long is this lens that, when I found a person in the crowd with the lens, I couldn't see them in real life. They were too far away. It's enough just to find the subject and focus with such a lens, let alone follow action. Very humbling.http://www.canon.com/bctv/products/digi100xs.html
At the Arriflex booth, I held my hand in front of a 1K LED fresnel light and watched amazed as, with the turn of a knob, I seamlessly and continuously dialed the colour temperature from about 1500K (candlelight) to over 10,000K (blue sky). Send the grips home. We're lit.http://www.arri.com/l-series/
GoPro had a huge crowd at their booth and a lot of enticing video, but until they provide image stabilization and a viewfinder, I'm out. To a photographer, the viewfinder IS the camera. One guy had a silicone casting capable of mounting six GoPros all facing out in different directions. He said that you could stitch the six cameras outputs into a single media file. Anyone remember Disney "Circle Vision"?
The Adobe booth was huge, capable of seating an audience of well over a hundred. Most of the demos were for the motion production business, though, with nothing of Photoshop or Lightroom on offer. Their seats were comfy, though.
NAB is highly recommended whether you're in show business or not. It's far more interesting than CES and it's in April, a far nicer time to be in Vegas, baby.