Last month, I got to spend 3 days with the SchoolVideoNews.com crew and experience NAB 18 from behind the camera.
The great thing about this role is that I got to hear all of the news through the headphones and not have to think about the next question in the interview. In the past, industry leaders save their best release of the year for NAB and this year didn’t fail to impress.
Answered Prayers Award - BlackMagic Design TV STudio Pro 4k
The biggest surprise to me this year was the BlackMagic Design TV Studio Pro 4k. While it didn’t shock me that they released a new switcher the tools in the new switcher are the surprise. Just off the heals of the ATEM 4 M/E switcher, BMD announced at NAB that they TV Studio Pro 4k is ready for the market. What’s the big deal? A lot of educators that I talk with get really frustrated with BMD products because of the need to have matching inputs across the board. This meant buying converters or new equipment or simply having to deal with the frustrations that come with students using equipment and changing settings without knowing the affect. The TV Studio Pro 4k takes care of that with each input being able to receive any HD signal and it will convert accordingly. This is a huge deal. No longer do you have to worry about camera settings, the ATEM TV Studio Pro 4k takes care of it. Not to mention that there are also 8 programmable SDI outputs. Need a clean feed at camera 4 for the studio show - done. Need an extra 3 monitors in the control room - done. The list goes on and on.
Audio is 75% of video and BMD has addressed that with the new release as well. All audio inputs go through the Fairlight audio mixer. You can add compression, eq, and more -pretty much everything you think of when you think of a full digital mixing board. All of this is available inside the new control software for the ATEM TV Studio Pro 4K.
Oh yeah. I almost forgot but you probably picked up that you can output Ultra HD. That is pretty apparent considering the name. While 4K is not used in a ton of places, it will be in the next couple of years so go ahead and be there before the rest of the world is! By the way, forget breaking the bank. The tactile switching surface with all of the features listed above and more is less than $3,000.
OMG!!! IT DOES WHAT??? Award - Sportzcast Control Room
When Mike and the Sportzcast crew reached out to us to tease the SportzCast Control room, I have to admit I was skeptical. So here’s the skinny on the device: Get an internet connection. Connect the SportzCast Scorebot to the scoreboard controller. Add an IP camera. Set up the event and you are good to go with live game footage, scoreboard overlay, and up to the second scoreboard updates all packaged and ready to stream! It’s that simple. I teased the Control Room before NAB and after processing the system in my mind and seeing the outcomes from their softball coverage earlier this year, I am losing sleep at night thinking of the possibilities. It’s easier than plug and play. Seriously, if you have a permanent pressbox with a scoreboard controller and internet connection, you don’t even have to go to the games! I tell my students that, to most people, video is magic. This only solidifies that notion.
Sportzcast explains the simplicity of the set up perfectly (https://sportzcastwp.azurewebsites.net/axis/). You simply need the IP camera, a mounting bracket for the camera, the Sportzcast Scorebot, and an internet connection. Here’s another reason that I love the folks at Sportzcast - I believe they secretly tap into our conversations and address our concerns. Fundraising and monetizing a broadcast is sometimes a huge hurdle. Sportzcast has a list of ways on the site for the control room including adding client overlays!
Editing Is Getting Too Easy Award - Adobe Creative Cloud and DaVinci Resolve 15
(There’s nothing that says I can’t have a tie!)
As the news of the updates came out, I started to get nervous. I started to reevaluate what and how I teach. NLEs are taking a lot of the work away. I joke that every time Adobe updates CC it makes me cuss because I think about all of the time I have spent in order to do something and they add a button to take care of that entire workflow. DaVinci has always been a “I guess I could use this sometimes” editor - until this year. I am torn so I made this a tie because I don’t know which is better for you (or me for that matter).
DaVinci Resolve continues to grow in tools and users. It once was a really great audio editor that you did a little video with. Now it is a full fledged NLE with advanced compositing, motion tracking, and soo much more. I never looked too closely at Davinci until late last year. How could a free NLE compete with something that charges you. Boy was I wrong!!!
DaVinci Resolve 15 has offline and online editing capabilities that allow you to not only work on any variety of steps in the post production process but it allows you to work with others simultaneously. So if you have a student who can edit to tell a story well but couldn’t mix cupcake batter much less audio - pair that student with the kid who loves to make things sound great. It’s super powerful. Right now Davinci Resolve 15 is free for beta users and the paid version is ONLY$299!!!
They Listened To Us Award - BMD Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
As the BlackMagic Design press conference rolled into the 30th minute, a real buzz was created when the reboot of the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera was announced as the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. One thing is obvious so let’s get it out of the way, it shoots 4k.
BMD get’s this award because the PCC4k seems to address all of the issues people had with the original PCC. First the connections… Full size HDMI and Mini-Xlr. No longer do you have to have an adapter to connect an external monitor or recorder; simply connect a fullsize HDMI cable and you are good to go. The same can’t be said for the XLR cables but it certainly beats the alternative of using on board microphones and an external recorder. My advice, buy a hand full of adapters or build your own cables to make sure you have what you need…
The biggest win for this camera is not marketed enough in my opinion. You no longer have to write to SD or CF cards with this camera. You can write straight to a hard drive with the USB-C output on the camera. Imagine that - you can now use external hard drives to capture footage! With the PCC4k, you can shoot in 4k uncompressed which will take a TON of space but if you are writing to a 2 or 3 terabyte drive, you can shoot for a while before having to even wonder if you are running short of space! While most of our projects don’t need that much production power, it’s a nice tool to have for the big project that the superintendent wants you to produce!
You Didn’t Know You Needed This Award - Rollo Cam H2
Dana Smith from Rollo Cam called me the week before we left for Vegas and asked to meet with us to show us the Rollo Cam H2. We met with Dana and he showed us the Rollo Cam H2 and I told John Churchman that Dana was on to something.
Here’s the skinny. A pocket sized, table top “dolly” that is battery powered and controlled via a bluetooth connected phone or ipad. Mount a camera on the shoe and rock and roll. Seriously, It’s that easy. I was shocked at how easy it was to get started and how many different ways I could make the Rollo Cam H2 to go with just a couple of adjustments.
It’s not a deal breaker to not have it and you won’t use it on every shoot but it is a lot of fun to have in your back pocket so to speak.
Game Changer Award - Henry Engineering SportsCaster
Hank and the gang at Henry Engineering have a plan to change your world when it comes to sports broadcasting. The SportsCaster is an all-in-one audio production device designed for live sports productions.
In the past, you needed a mixer for your program feed but you also needed a way to mix the talent headphones and a way for the producer to communicate off air. With the SportsCaster from Henry Engineering, you have all of those things as well as additional outputs for camera operators and all feeds are customizable. The SportsCaster assumes that you will have two announcers, a field reporter, camera operators, and a producer and that you will be using a Sports Pod to maximize the effectiveness of your broadcast.
With the SportsCaster, you can mix your audio for the program feed as well as have intercom for offline communication all in a simple 1 RU device. The SportsCaster will be available in June and I will certainly have one by football season!
Best New Secret Weapon: Sling Studio
“I thought it was like one of those other things that is just a camera that you can stream with” was the response I got last week when I suggested someone look into Sling Studio for a smaller “behind the scenes” production. By the way - It’s not “one of those other things.”
I admit that I wasn’t sold on Sling Studio until NAB. I wasn’t sure how it would be used in my production environment but talking with the crew from Sling opened my eyes to their mission and my application!
Dorothy Kelly from Sling explained to me that Sling Studio isn’t meant to replace a multi cam set up (though it could). It instead is meant to compliment what you have. What an eye opening revelation for me. She told me that adding Sling Studio to your “tool box” gives you the opportunity to create some smaller footprint production while adding a ton of possibilities - think wired cameras as well as a variety of wireless options.
You should certainly check out the Sling Studio and how you can work it into your tool kit. To be honest, I am thinking about how great it would be to have something simple to use for our road game broadcasts next year!
The overall winner from NAB this year is pretty simple - It’s you. As video production tools become more plentiful and inexpensive, the gap narrows between education and the professional world. As you look at the tools you need for your program, please don’t fall into the trap of “we can’t afford that” because there are now options that are cost effective and give your students an option to use pro level tools.
The technology in video production continues to evolve faster and faster. As that continues, I encourage you not to be intimidated by the changes in technology but instead embrace the changes and invest in yourself in order to learn these things and how they impact your classroom and students.
Remember that each year you teach, video is more and more native to your students so in order to stay ahead of the curve, you have to take advantage of these wins for education.
NAB 2019 is April 9 through 12 in Las Vegas. Go ahead and talk with your supervisors about getting to go to Vegas next year to take advantage of the best professional learning experience ever!