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My Top Highlights From NAB 2017

Yesterday was my first and last day at NAB 2017, and I’m about to hit the road and head back to LA for a shoot tomorrow. The one day that I was here was absolutely jam packed full of catch ups with lots of old (and new) friends, checking out gear, learning about new products, and lots more. I saw far too much to ever try to fit into a single post, so for now I want to give you guys a brief rundown of some of my top highlights from the show floor this year.

DaVinci Resolve 14

As someone who now uses Resolve to edit the majority of my projects, I was extremely impressed to see what Blackmagic had in store for the latest update. For a while now, Blackmagic has been pushing for Resolve to be a true all in one post production tool for editors and filmmakers, and version 14 takes a massive step in that direction. Most notably, the integration of Fairlight audio technology directly inside of Resolve 14 will mean that we not only have the best color grading tools built into our NLE, but we also have ProTools-style audio editing features built in too.

The new Fairlight technology offers professional level mixing and automation capabilities, ADR tools, an audio accelerator that allows you to play back up to 1000 audio tracks, and much more. You can read all about the features in depth on Blackmagic’s website here.

NAB 2017 - Resolve 14

I don’t do a ton of post-audio work myself, but I do need to tackle some basic audio editing and cleanup on most projects that I edit, so having tools this powerful directly inside of Resolve is undoubtably going to speed up my workflow and allow me to deliver better results in the audio department. It will be interesting to see if some sound editors will now start using Resolve strictly for post-audio, as it would allow them to offer a really streamlined workflow when collaborating with editors who are currently cutting and coloring inside of Resolve.

Resolve 14 of course has loads of other new editing and color features too (and is reportedly 10x faster to operate than the previous version), but the real standout feature is the integration of Fairlight.

NAB 2017 - DaVinci Resolve 14

It’s also worth noting that Resolve 14 Studio is now going to be priced at only $299 – a massive price reduction from it’s previous list price of $999. Dongles will also no longer be needed, which I think is a great move by Blackmagic. While many colorists don’t mind the dongle as they are often operating in studio environments, editors often work on their laptops while on the go, which makes having to remember to bring your dongle with you every time (and not losing it), a bit of a pain.

Panasonic Mystery Camera

I already covered this very briefly yesterday on the blog, but I will re-iterate that the new mystery cinema camera from Panasonic looks very intriguing, and may very well be the AF100 II that we’ve been waiting for.

Panasonic has been teasing this new camera over the last few days, and even has one in a case at NAB (although it’s covered up with a translucent sheet), and it will be officially announced in just over a month at CineGear in Los Angeles.

NAB 2017 - Panasonic Mystery Camera

Based on the very limited knowledge that we have of the camera so far, and the fact that it clearly is supposed to sit somewhere between the GH5 and the Varicam LT in Panasonic’s lineup, I would be shocked if this wasn’t an AF100 replacement, although it may not use the same naming convention.

It looks like the new camera takes some design inspiration from both the Canon C100 and the Sony FS5. If you take a look at the pictures below, you can clearly see there is a C100-style side handle attached to the camera (presumably removable), and a FS5-style LCD screen attached to the top handle.

NAB 2017 - Panasonic Mystery Camera 2

If this camera is reasonably priced, boasts a good codec, and has a Super 35mm sensor, it will very likely give Canon and Sony a run for their money. For now though, we’ll need to sit tight and wait to see what happens in June.

New Lenses

There was a ton of new glass showcased at NAB this year, and while many of the lenses that I saw had been previously announced or released, this was the first opportunity I had to get hands on with many of them.

First up were the new Sigma Cinema Prime Lenses, which look absolutely incredible. I used the Sigma Cinema Zoom lenses on my feature film back in January, and couldn’t have been happier with the results – both in terms of their usability and their imaging performance. I didn’t expect any less of the primes, but nonetheless it was still encouraging to be able to actually hold the new lenses in my hands and finally see them in person.

NAB 2017 - Sigma Lenses

It was just a few years ago that there were practically no choices for filmmakers looking to buy relatively affordable cinema lenses. Really, the only option for a while were Zeiss CP.2’s, but a whole lot has changed since then. That said, from what I’ve seen, I really think Sigma is the only manufacturer getting it right… At least as far as the low budget market is concerned. They’re focused on quality across the board – from the design and look of the lenses, to the build quality and optics, so it’s no wonder why so many filmmakers are interested in these lenses, despite all the competition in the market right now.

There are 7 lenses in the set: 14mm, 20mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, and they will be shipping next month (for EF mount), and in June (for PL mount). They are currently listed at $3500 each.

I saw a ton of other new lenses at the show, including the new Cooke S7’s, which are gorgeous lenses that were created to offer the Cooke look on full frame cameras,  some really incredible SLR Magic anamorphic lenses, which I can not wait to try, Fuji’s more affordable MK Series cinema glass, and the new Zeiss CP.3 lenses.

NAB 2017 - Cooke S7 NAB 2017 - Zeiss Cp3

I’ve never been a huge fan of the look of the Zeiss CP.2 lenses, and the updated CP.3 versions are essentially the same glass with a new coating, which doesn’t make them too exciting for me personally. That said, Zeiss is also offering the CP.3’s in an XD version as well, which are integrated with some pretty unique technology. The XD lenses are able to capture and transfer data from your lens as you shoot that can later be used to automatically correct issues (like distortion) in post-production. Here’s an excerpt from Zeiss on how it works:

The ZEISS eXtended Data technology adds new opportunities to simplify and increase the accuracy of the image capture and processing workflow. ZEISS eXtended Data unifies two data sets: key lens data based on the open /i Technology standard and supported by a wide range of cameras and accessories, plus ZEISS specific lens data that contains precise lens characteristics.

  • A unique technology that provides information about the lens’ distortion and shading characteristics in real time to speed-up the workflow on set and in post-production
  • Lens settings are digitally captured on every frame, avoiding the need to manually record the lens settings for every shot
  • Documentation of the lens’ characteristics enhances creativity by allowing more complex shots to be handled in post-production

Sony A9 & Canon 5D MK IV C-Log

In the camera department, there wasn’t a whole lot to write home about this year, although the two announcements that caught my attention were the Sony A9 and the Canon 5D MK IV update.

Let’s start with the A9 –

We all know that Sony has been taking the low budget video world by storm with their A7 lineup (despite their lackluster color science), and now it looks like they want to double down on the stills market with their new A9. If you haven’t already seen it, the A9 is yet another mirrorless full frame camera from Sony, which is seemingly positioned as a 1DX II competitor, designed to impress higher end stills photographers. This is true of both it’s pricing and feature set.

Listed at $4500 for the body, this is not a cheap camera to say the least. And the fact that it doesn’t come with any type of log recording profile (despite the fact that it can shoot 4K video, down-sampled from 6K), leads me to believe that Sony wants to avoid cannibalizing their A7S II with an even better mirrorless camera for video. Most of the standout features of this camera – such as it’s ability to shoot at an incredible burst rate of 20fps for RAW still photos – are clearly geared towards photographers, not filmmakers.

Even so, it’s still great to see Sony genuinely challenging themselves by pushing their products to be the best they can be across the board, and that certainly gives me hope for the new A7S III, whenever that is released.

NAB 2017 - Sony A9

Sony has clearly listened to their stills customers to deliver the A9, and if they apply that same mentality to the new A7S III (and fix it’s color science finally!), we will have one hell of a camera on our hands.

As for Canon, as expected they didn’t release any new cinema cameras at the show. I did get a chance to try out their C700, which is a cool camera although extremely bulky and impractical for the type of work that I do… And they also recently announced that they would in fact bring C-Log to the 5D MK IV, although it will come at a price of $99.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I’m happy log recording is now available on the MK IV, as it is still a great camera despite it’s flaws, and has better color science than virtually any other DSLR on the market. On the other hand, for Canon to charge $99 for the upgrade is a bit ridiculous, especially considering the $3500 5D MK IV lacks many video features that Canon’s competitors offer.

Final Thoughts

As usual, there was a massive amount of gear to check out and process this year at NAB. It wasn’t the most exciting year for camera announcements, but there were some really interesting lenses, accessories, and other innovative tools announced – including the Atomos 19″ Sumo monitor/recorder, which I haven’t even touched on here.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be sure to do some more detailed write ups or reviews on some of these products as I get my hands on them and try them out in real world shooting situations, so check back soon for more updates!

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About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

2 Comments

  • Kayode
    May 27, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    interesting stuff… Wish Resolve 14 becomes more stable though…

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 30, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      I’m sure it will with time! It just needs to get out of Beta…

      Reply

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