ICG Highlights Workflow’s Finest At NAB 2014

The ICG members stop at Blackmagic during its Workflow Tour at NAB (photo credit: GP Productions)

BY: Marjorie Galas, Editor

Seasoned cinematographers are always watching the latest developments in production technology, searching for those innovations that will enhance picture quality and make great additions to their tool box. NAB provides the perfect hot spot for a DP to come out and play, testing the latest gadgetry and upgrades. ICG (International Cinematographers Guild) has utilized NAB to offer an annual camera tour that pairs a renown DP (previous tours have been led by Guild president Steven Poster, fifty year production veteran Andy Romanoff) with a touring group of industry guests and educators as they visit booths offering the latest in camera, lighting and grip equipment. This year’s camera tour visited Band Pro, Sony, Aadyntech, GoPro, Arri, Canon, Panasonic, Tiffen, FreeFly and Codex.

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At the 2014 NAB Show, ICG offered a second tour led by Senior Filmmaker-In-Residence: Cinematography at American Film Institute Observatory Stephen Lighthill, ASC (Berkeley in the Sixties, Frontline). The group explored those companies dedicated to workflows. The two hour tour visited eight manufactures dedicated to everything from film to digital transfers and cloud storage. What follows are highlights from this year’s Workflows tour.

Blackmagic

While the show floor was abuzz about the Ursa and its $3,995 price point, the group was taken “back stage” into a private viewing area where Blackmagic’s studio cameras were on display. Boasting the smallest camera with the largest viewfinder, their upcoming line (available late July) will present 4K studio cameras. A piece of equipment of particular note was their film scanner. Weighing 130 pounds, the devise was wall-mounted and scanned film to ultra HD in real time. Continuous rollers removed dust and dirt from the original providing a clear transfer. The devise had been used on the recent transfer and reprint of the “Seinfeld” series.

Quantel

The Pablo color finishing system was the highlight of this stop. Pablo features both 2K and 4K outputs and offers an ‘entry level’ system or a more advanced output that would work with a color correction intermediate. All finishing is done in real time with no rendering needed. The user is able to make changes to any setting in the file once the finish is complete, and graphics or text can easily be applied.

AJA

Cameras are the start of any workflow, and Aja’s new Cion was constructed with optimum functionality in mind. The company spent years focusing on an ergonomic body design that is constructed out of magnesium. Its total weight is six pounds. The Cion was also ccreated to operate efficiently with third party elements and hardware. It has a removable handle and base to allow for multiple brands of camera mounts to attach to it. It has no proprietary technology, but does have a 4K sensor to reduce infrared and cropping.

Autodesk

Autodesk has been focused on 3D animation and color correction software solutions since the 80s. The tour focused on their 3D animation technologies being utilized in previse that encompassed performance and reality capture. However the Autodesk team stressed the importance of their work in establishing industry standards in the production process. They are trying to change the worldview of technology, encouraging artists to view technology not as layers of the process but additions to it.

DAX

Acquired by Prime Focus, DAX works with the DIT and can automatically decode the hard drive per type of camera used. The data is stored on the cloud in a personal account (for example, Warner Bros. currently has their own storage area). DAX provides a daily report that shows what cards were uploaded as well as the content of each card. There are also functions such as an edit share were assigned users can obtain access to files and easily make approvals of dailies.

Assimilate

Maxx Digital and Assimilate have a goal – to encode a variety of files in such a way that it allows an editor to open the files without any issues or roadblocks. Currently they can open over 100 different camera formats. Their Scratch system encodes pro res files on Windows with apple licensing. Red files can also be encoded without the use of the red rocket card. Their latest innovation, the Scratch 8, allows for the encoding of pro res files on a Surface or iPad. Assimilate works off a subscription service that can be as short as a week or expand for months depending on the size and needs of a project.

MTI

MTI’s latest development was created to bring coherence between the set and the post house. It is a perfect media and dailies manager on set and very useful for long projects. The system frees up camera cares and quickly makes files available for viewing. DIT is completed within 30 minutes of wrapping. The full machine is set into a hard box with a liquid cooling core and is easily portable.

SpectraCal

Every production needs proper calibration on their displays, especially 3D productions to remove all guesswork when looking at a display. To ensure the imagery is accurate, SpectraCal has developed 3D look up tables and white balances. The color check system validates that calibration is accurate amongst screens and that there is no color drift.

To learn more about the ICG and future ICG tour opportunities, visit their website at:
www.cameraguild.org