NAB 2002 Focuses on D-Cinema
by Tara Veneruso
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(indieWIRE/04.18.02) -- The 2002 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention has become a vital source of information for anyone working with DV or HD video who is looking for the most current information on software and hardware for television, radio, film, streaming and Internet media. NAB is traditionally a convention for broadcasters, but NAB 2002's focus was on digital cinema (D-Cinema) products from many of the exhibitors and featured equipment for digital cinematography, post-production, delivery and exhibition.
Each year I travel with Team Next Wave's Mark Stolaroff on a mission to find affordable tools that provide ultra-low budget filmmakers the power to make movies on limited resources. Excitement buzzed in the air surrounding the enormous quantity of powerful and low-cost tools being offered. Perhaps everyone had just won a lot of money at the casinos before heading over to examine the new digital production tools.
In addition to discovering the best equipment to buy for your budget, NAB is also a key place to learn all the new essential terms you will need to know to make your movie. Understanding technical jargon and catch phrases can help you to spend your money more wisely. As technology progresses, the glossary filmmakers must be familiar with continues to grow at an enormous rate. The most challenging aspect of NAB this year was getting up to speed on important technical information that will, for instance, determine which video decks will work with which camera and software.
The products I had been anticipating most, outside of my essential editing software and plug-ins, were multimedia-equipped mobile phones and handheld devices. I was not disappointed. I caught a glimpse of the Nokia 9200 Series communicator and Compaq's iPAQ Pocket PC, which use the Real One Player and can access and play RealAudio and Video. You will be able to listen to your favorite tunes, talk on the phone, plan your day-timer, and watch independent short films all on one device.
With the new Nokia in hand, crowds surrounding me while I watched a Gorillaz music video playing off the hard drive. The phones will be capable of streaming video when the telephone network infrastructure is completed, which should be sometime this summer.
Panasonic has given a lot of attention to D-Cinema, unveiling its new line of 24P cameras. The company also expanded its arsenal of high-def 24P-equipped cameras to include MiniDV with the AG-DVX100 DV Cinema Camcorder. Panasonic designed this camera specifically for filmmakers and says this new 24P MiniDV camera will "democratize visual storytelling by substantially reducing the cost-of-entry for digital filmmakers." For the more technically savvy reader, this camera captures at 24P, but outputs to tape at 60i. You will be able to choose the 24P or 60i (NTSC) format when you capture. This true progressive scan 3 CCD MiniDV camera is due in September ($3495) and will provide FireWire support. Apple is collaborating with Panasonic to allow filmmakers to stay in the 24P environment throughout post-production in Final Cut Pro with their new Cinema Tools plug-in (profiled later in this article).
Panasonic also released new 24P HD and DVCPRO cameras. It was thrilling to see Panasonic catch the filmmaking fever with so many 24P cameras and decks, ranging in all budget ranges. It has upgraded its higher-end HD Cinema Camera and is showing a commitment to creating more digital cinema equipment in the future. The Panasonic DVCPRO AJ-SDX900 (under $35,000, available in December 2002) allows you to shoot in either native 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios and can encode at 25 or 50Mbps. [Megabits per second indicates how much data is being passed along a network. The higher the Mbps, the higher the image quality.] The standard def DVCPRO format is an affordable alternative to the HD format.
Sony presented the CineAlta Festival in a local movie theater and screened footage from feature films, prime time television, commercials, and shorts from the U.S. and around the world, produced using Sony's high def 24P CineAlta camera system. The screening started off with a trailer and several clips from LucasFilm's "Star Wars: Epsiode II Attack of the Clones." LucasFilm and Sony were pleased to state that no film was used in the CineAlta presentation whatsoever