DVi contributor Craig Chartier saw a lot of really cool stuff at NAB this year. Most of it wasn’t even shipping then, but everything on his list is available now. Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Craig presents his “best products of the year” for 2012 in this four-page buyer’s guide.
The NAB Show, the leading industry exhibit in the United States hosted by the National Association of Broadcasters, is held each April in Las Vegas. It’s the world’s largest electronic media show covering filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. With more than 90,000 attendees from 151 countries and 1,500+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for digital media and entertainment. Actual attendance numbers this year (2012) were reported to be more than 92,000 people.
It just so happens that this year’s NAB was the 20th for me, so it seemed fitting that I take a few minutes and compile my “NAB Top 20” list to share with you. I’m going to stay away from the camera section on this list. It’s not a “How’s this one compare to that one?” type of list. There are several other web sites that have taken the time to do side-by-sides. This is just a list of things I found interesting as I wandered around the show floor that week in April.
The thing is, a lot of products that are exhibited at NAB are often just in the prototype stage, and it’s usually much later in the year (such as now) when they’re eventually introduced and ready to buy on the market. A lot of these items weren’t available for sale yet when they were first shown at NAB, but all of them can be bought right now, and the links to buy them from B&H, or directly from the manufacturer, or in some cases on Amazon, are included at the end of each description. The heading for every listing is a link to the official product page on each manufacturer’s site.
It’s often at the smaller booths, around the perimeter of the show or at the back of the building, that you will find the most unique items. I often stay away from the larger booths (like Sony or Avid) until the third day. You can’t really get any time with a product or ask any driving questions the first two days anyway due to the shear numbers in the crowds. Frankly, during the first few days, the larger manufacturers channel their resources toward people from the networks or top tier rental houses about to place large orders. So I wait until early Day Three to get up close to the products and get some hands on time or sit in on a demo. While the large booths have lots of people standing around until the closing bell on the last day, it’s often the small guys who wrap up early and head out so I maximize face time to learn about products by doing the show this way. If you ever do get a chance to fly in for a show just for a day or two I highly recommend catching it on Wednesday and Thursday.
So, what’s on my list? The things that I think just might help you work faster or better and within a certain price point. There are no $10,000 items on this list. They are ranked in no particular order of importance and they cover several areas of production. Here’s the full list, complete with direct links to each entry; or you can browse through each of the four pages of this article in succession…
- F&V Z180 5600K LED Video Light
- Que Audio Q Sniper PRO Microphone Kit
- MYT WORKS 3 in 1 Slider Dolly System
- Multiquip Inc. PSG6 Studio Inverter Generator
- HPRC 1300 Memory Card Case
- Kino Flo Celeb 200 LED Lighting Kit
- Cinema Forms for iPad
- SEAR Camera Holder
- Petrol BagsPortable Digital Recorder Pouch
- JAG35 Wireless Electronic Follow Focus Kit v2
- Alphatron EVF-035W-3G Electronic Viewfinder
- Rotolight RL48-B Stealth Edition
- Airbox Mini Softbox w/ Egg Crate
- bebob Premium Cage
- Litepanels Sola ENG Fresnel Kit
- PivotHead Video Recording Eyewear
- SHAPE Quick Handle System C300 Bracket
- Sachtler Ace M Tripod System
- Domke Protective Wraps
- Billingham Photovest
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For our first item, Foto&Video or F&V, has what I think is the best all around LED light fixture. The Z180 5600K LED light panel features 180 daylight-balanced LEDS that deliver a bright, yet soft, pure-color beam of light. This light comes with two (2) magnetic filters:
- one (1) tungsten filter that balances your light to 3200K, and
- one (1) diffusion filter. This light is dimmable from 0-100%.
The Z180 light has several powering options. It can be powered by its built-in battery plate with a Sony NP-F type battery, by its built-in battery compartment with six (6) AA batteries, or by an external power source via its DC Φ2.5mm jack.
Multiple Z180 units can be linked together via its Expandable Link System, a mortis and tenon type of attachment system. The lights can mount horizontally or vertically to one another. This linking system makes it easier to transport your lights, and it’s a perfect solution for projects on-location, where carrying large -sized lights becomes impractical. When the lights are linked together, the SmartSync Control Circuit allows you to control the intensity of all of the grouped Z190 lights with only one of the light’s dimmer knobs. When the knob of the parent light is adjusted, all connected lights match the intensity of the parent light. I was so impressed by this light I purchased one at the show. It’s very well made. I found the large dimming knob, the ability to combine fixtures, and the multiple on-board power options very well presented in the fixture. It comes in a bi-color design as well, however, I went for the stronger output design. Connor Hartnett with F&V was very helpful showing me the complete line of lighting products. I look forward to doing a detailed field test with this and one or two other products from F&V. The write up will be coming soon. About $370 from Amazon Prime.
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Que Audio started with all the pieces from their Q DSLR-Video kit, and then added the Q Mini Boom Pole and Boom Pole Base unit which attaches directly to the Mini Boom Pole or Mini Shock mount via standard tripod 1/4 x 20 threading for boom counterbalancing, mic stand, or desktop stand uses. Also included is the QAD2 passive 3.5mm to XLR adapter plug, threaded cable. The Q Mini Boom Pole is made out of telescoping stainless steel and outfitted with a ribbed rubber comfort grip, allowing for extremely lightweight and travel-friendly location booming. It measures just less than 13.5″ (34 cm) fully collapsed, and the fully extended length is just under 57.5″ (4′ 9.5″ or 1.5 meters). Use the Q Sniper Pro Kit anywhere a high quality, compact, and lightweight mini shotgun microphone is needed… on or off camera run-and-gun, boom pole / location sound, desktop stand, ENG / journalism, studio production, etc. The microphone is self-powered using two (2) AG4 1.5V batteries, but it can also be phantom powered (balanced / low-impedance) using the optional QAD3 XLR adapter. Optional adapter connectors are available for +48V XLR balanced low-impedance, and for all of the popular third-party wireless transmitters. I really liked the small profile of this shotgun as well as the ability of this kit to be more versatile than just a camera-mounted mic. It’s under $500 and available at B&H Photo/Video.
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My next item was also discussed in a write-up by fellow DVi reporter Steve Mims. We each ran across this and had no idea the other liked it as well. So, it must be a great product right? It’s the MYTworks slider system. Yes, I know everyone has a slider system, even the PVC DIY doohickey thing you can make from watching Youtube. This 3 in 1 system has a lot going for it. And comes in a Small, Medium, and Heavy duty style depending on your camera size. With the complete system, nicknamed the MYT 3-IN-1, you can dolly with the camera set on the MYT GLIDE, switch to a static shot on the MYT HI-HAT, and continue with a rolling shot with the MYT SKATE without ever un-mounting the camera from its head, bowl, or Mitchell Hi-Hat. For the DSLR shooter the lightweight 4 ft system can be packed in a standard size Pelican case for easy traveling. This system is as stable as it gets and is also very quiet. Made in NYC and ready to ship. This is on my wish list. MYT Works sells directly and through Abel Cine in various sizes and mounts ranging from $1250 to $3350.
Contents of this article…
Page One: Foto&Video, Que Audio, MYT WORKS
Page Two: Multiquip, HPRC, Kino Flo, Cinema Forms, SEAR, Petrol Bags
Page Three: JAG35, Alphatron, Rotolight, Airbox, bebob, Lightpanels
Page Four: PivotHead, SHAPE, Sachtler, Domke, Billingham