23rd September 2016
Over at the RAI and IBC 2016 is enjoying a great big game of musical chairs – or maybe that should be musical Market Share! As each of the big camera manufacturers announce moves into new target markets.
Building on the Varicam 35’s success with BBC Drama, Dr Foster last year (winner of the Broadcast Award for best drama series and numerous TV audience awards), Panasonic has honed the Varicam 35 and Varicam LT cameras to quite squarely target the episodic drama market. Key to this is the announcement of Varicam Pure, a Codex integrated recording module capturing 4K RAW files to Codex capture drives; opening the gateway to a complete dailies, review and archiving system with Codex’s production suite.
With its modular design, Dual ISO’s and flexible internal and external recording options, Orange is the new Black and Mount Pleasant are further examples of Varicam’s growing popularity as a cinematic drama camera.
Yet head over to ARRI where the Alexa Family of cameras currently dominates the drama market, boasting 9 out of 10 of the best drama productions amongst its many credits, and they are looking to expand an already impressive track record by becoming the camera of choice for the documentary and freelance markets too. The Arri Alexa SXT is now finally shipping, but once again there was no new camera announcement, and apparently there is no announcement planned for for 2017 either. This will surprise some, given that they have been hotly tipped for new models since Netflix deemed the Arri cameras to not be 4K compliant.
However, with some keynote speakers suggesting HDR is more important than pixel count, Arri would argue strength in its lack of camera announcements. The images on display in the ‘Trailer Tunnel’ were quite simply stunning, and eloquently made the point that Alexas have been capturing HDR since 2010, providing an unprecedented return on investment (in this day and age) and giving owner operators and hire facilities the longevity they have been crying out for since Digibeta days.
Over to Canon, manufacturer of the industry’s most popular rental camera the C300, and its IBC launch of the C700; a flexible, robust and highly capable primary 4k camera. Offering EF or PL Mounts and a Global Shutter version, with up to 15 stops of dynamic range and internal recording to Pro-Res or external RAW recording options, the C700 is a new full size design lending itself to both studio and hand held configurations. Designed to be a flexible ‘A’ camera for a range of shooting scenarios. However, with Arri’s Amira and Panasonic’s LT occupying a similar space (at a lower price-point) it will be interesting to see how it fares in the marketplace.
However, in the spirit of continuing the game of musical market share, Canon also had a very interesting 10,000 lumen 4K Laser Projector on display billed as the ‘smallest and lightest’ of its kind as canon applies its superior lens and imaging knowledge to the displays sector – although I suspect the Panasonic RQ13K might beg to differ as it proclaims similar credentials. The differences, although slight, could be significant depending on your installation with different physical dimensions and different resolution along with the brightness uniformity. Although larger, the RQ13K looks to have the edge today.
So, what are RED up to during this merry dance? Announcing a new RED Helium camera body to complement its latest camera brain – which is probably the show’s worst kept secret. But with RED’s now legendary genius marketing department proving no long lead times ahead by selling a number of limited edition units via its online store (which sold out in mind-boggling record time) excitement is building for the official launch in a few weeks’ time.
As the merry-go-round continues there were plenty more products turning our heads.
Transparent LED Screens graced the PLANAR and EYEVIS stands, plus there were a number of screens throughout the show halls boasting a pixel pitch as low as 1.2mm. These gave our AV team plenty to talk about since LED screen has been a growth market for Paragon Bank Technology Finance following the launch of our dedicated Pro-AV division earlier this year.
And it’s not just us and the camera manufacturers having a shake-up. The SAM LiveTouch 4K highlights and replay system, with a live demonstration running over IP, accommodated all of the buzzwords of the show and was sure to attract attention, making a certain other manufacturer feel pretty exposed because, although they had an IP interoperability zone, no 4K model has yet hit the market.
Cooke announced multimounts, Canon EF, Sony E, Nikon F and MFT for its formerly PL-only S4/I lenses, which can be changed in the field opening up a whole new market for Cooke and allowing everyone the potential to create the famous ‘Cooke Look’.
There were also lots of clever products using technology advances to address specific requirements. Our favourites include the Panasonic remote camera range which includes a 4K remote camera (AW-UE70) auto tracking software, the focus-assist camera AW-HEA10 that can be operated remotely via an i-pad and the AW-HE230 which is fully weatherproof, salt resistant and even equipped with windscreen wipers!
PTZ cameras were a popular theme with Sony also announcing their first 4K PTZ (BRC-X1000) and Ross Video and JVC revealing new cameras in this area too. Sony also had on display the HDC-P43 POV style camera to complement the HDC-4300 and made some significant stand changes with a visibly less cluttered stand design to represent the clarity of the Sony workflow solutions.
The Defy camera movement ecosystem definitely caught my eye. Consisting of the ‘Ethos’ stabiliser which can carry a payload of up to 18lbs and rotate 360 degrees; the ‘Rhythm’ digitally programmable track system and the ‘Dactylcam Pro’ cable cam, which is capable of running payloads up to 100lbs at speeds of up to 35mph along 1200ft of synthetic line, driven by a powerful motor with an adjustable tool-free tension drive. This range of precision engineered product with GPS Tracking, speed settings and redundant safety features are perfect for broadcast, live event and feature film applications where the use of a drone is not practical.
And quite possibly our favourite genius product – the Arri Mastergrips – which offer fingertip control over Focus, Iris and Zoom on Cine and ENG lenses in an ergonomic design based around traditional Arri film camera handgrips. The grips also feature record start/stop buttons and an integrated touch screen display to monitor and make set up changes. And the best bit – they work with all the leading manufacturers’ cameras! At under £6k per unit this will make life infinitely easier for the self-shooter. Every camera Operator should have one!