4K for $10K and $20K DSLR Developments

Rarely have multiple announcements of important image capture technology occur in a single day, outside of the standard timeframes of NAB or IBC (sometimes Inter BEE). On 3 November 2011 Red Digital Cinema and Canon announced significant advances in sensor and image recording technology with Red Scarlet-X and Canon EOS C300 camcorders. Both can deliver pretty pictures, but at a very high prices. The Red technology starts at the rock bottom $9,750 where the Canon beauty is just $20,000! These type of systems have been previewed over the last ten years, moving from tape acquisition, magnetic or optical drive, to finally flash drive technology. Their focus is image quality spare none.

Maybe it’s impossible to deliver an affordable compact camera under $2,000 but with the previous Canon EOS 5D and 7D and Nikon D7000, it sure looked like the future was bright: affordable ubiquitous image capture on large sensor formats with interchangeable lenses. This was the holy grail and the definition of a disruptive technology. Instead of building on that legacy, two companies shatter the hearts of it’s users and deliver the impossible dream of $30K systems (you still need lenses, grip gear, archive, and sound equipment).

I find it interesting the Red continues to use it’s REDCODE RAW R3D format, which is still mostly impossible to view on even the most robust desktop system without dedicated PCIe hardware or a transcode to an editing codec like ProRes or DNxHD. Canon took a step backward to MPEG-2 50 Mbps, a codec almost forgotten about in the wake of modern H.264/AVC codecs. Sometimes the best recording mechanism is bypass the decisions in the camcorder and record outboard to an alternative implementation like a AJA Ki Pro Mini or equivalent.

History is setting aside DV, DVCPRO HD, SxS, XDCAM, and P2 for a more available and affordable SDHC or SDXC systems. Canon and Red are stuck with CF cards. The future is coming, but if Canon and Red continue to delivery “affordable” camcorders at $10,000 and above, their decision might be good for a few thousand people, but the millions of folks who want high quality moving images must look elsewhere.

NAB 2007 From the Sidelines

The Apple and Mac application user community basked in the announcements from The National Association of Broadcasters 2007 Electronic Media Show (NAB2007). Participating in the NAB2007 show from a distance gives one an opportunity to forage the web for podcasts, webcasts, blogs, and news from the show. Final Cut Studio 2 will once again transform the industry with an impressive toolset including the new applications Final Cut Pro 6, Motion 3, Soundtrack Pro 2, Color, Cinema Tools 4, and Compressor 3, along with stalwart applications DVD Studio Pro 4 and LiveType 2.

The Final Cut Studio 2 suite introduces long requested features like surround sound, 3D support, and a post production HD codec, which Apple calls ProRes 422. Apple leveraged its intellectual property acquisitions like Shake and Logic to bolster it’s core Final Cut Studio 2 products. As Final Cut Pro burst the barriers to afford HD, Apple Color may just open the door to color grading for the rest of us. Previous systems working on 2K digital intermediates like Autodesk Lustre, IRIDAS SpeedGrade, and Silicon Color FinalTouch started at $24,995 and with control surfaces and hardware requirements easily topped $100,000 value, but Apple in its pursuit to make high end production tools affordable, decided to include Color, based on the FinalTouch acquisition, in the Final Cut Studio for no premium beyond the $1,299 asking price (upgrades begin at $499).

Other developers like Avid, Adobe, and Autodesk have various product support for Mac OS X, but none can compare to the value and tight integration of the Final Cut Studio 2 bundle.

For your Listening, Watching, and Reading Pleasure

Software Announcements
Apple Final Cut Studio 2
Adobe NAB2007 Webcast
Microsoft NAB2007 Site

Hardware Announcements
Panasonic NAB2007 USA Site
Panasonic NAB2007 Global Site
Sony Virtual NAB2007 Tradeshow
Sony NAB2007 Global Site

Color Grading Software
Apple Color
IRIDAS SpeedGrade
Autodesk Lustre
Autodesk IBC Lustre Demonstration

Post Production Codec
Apple ProRes 422 White Paper
Avid DNxHD
CineForm CineForm Intermediate

NAB2007 Blogs
Avid Savannah College of Art and Design Blog
Zoom-In NAB2007 Blog
HD for Indies Blog
Digital Content Producer NAB2007 Blogs
FreshDV Video NAB2007 Blog
CineForm Insider Blog

NAB2007 Podcasts
Digital Production Buzz NAB2007 Podcasts
fxguide NAB2007 Day 01 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 02 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 03 Podcast
fxguide NAB2007 Day 04 Podcast