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State of Our Industry February 2013

State of the Industry Article

State of Our Industry February 2013

By Heath Firestone

So, now that we are a little ways into the new year, and have pretty much recovered from the holidays, my mind shifts to the year ahead, and what we can expect in 2013, in particular, what we can expect at NAB 2013.

CES 2013 gave us a little hint of what is to come, but since its focus is quite different, it isn’t always a good indicator of what to expect from NAB.  I am looking forward to seeing what this year will produce.  We are already seeing saturation of the market with Thunderbolt devices, and with updates to USB3 speeds, we may see announcements on both of these fronts, but I suspect this year will be all about the next generation of higher resolution, both on the image sensor side, and on the display side, with companies already demoing 4K Consumer displays.

On the 3D side, there will be improvements, but it won’t hold the center stage that it has the past couple of years.  However, I am hoping to see Leonar3do there, displaying their new 3D input device, which they refer to as a bird (as opposed to a mouse).  The system uses a combination of technologies including tracked 3D goggles, the bird (which is also tracked and reminds me of an airbrush with horns), and software. It has an SDK, and there is a beta version of a Maya plug-in available.  What this allows you to do is to manipulate your models with a 3D input device, while viewing it stereopically.  It’s worth taking a look at, so if you can’t wait for NAB, check it out at  Other than not having tactile feedback, itis an ideal way of manipulating 3D models, painting them, etc.  We’ll see if it has legs as a practical input device, but it definitely looks promising.

NAB ShowI also think there is going to be even more focus on RAW video options.  With media becoming cheaper, and latitude improving on cameras, being able to take advantage of that extra information is becoming increasingly appealing.  I would keep an eye on Convergent Design, who are always leading that arena (plus being a Colorado based company, I am always rooting for them), and I would be quite surprised if they didn’t have something new and interesting to show.  Also expect some demo footage from the upcoming 6K Dragon sensors for Red’s Epic cameras.  Initial tests have reportedly yielded even more latitude than expected, which I look forward to seeing.

So, I’m not convinced that there will be anything really shocking or revolutionary at NAB 2013, however, in the virtual production realm, there are whispers that there are some new innovations that have the potential to shake up the industry, so we’ll have to wait and see if that comes to fruition, but I don’t think we’ll see these until later in the year.

Not a prediction, but some news for the new year on the local front; GW Hannaway & Associates will have a Sony F55 available for rental, in the very near future, which should be the first F55 available for rental in the Denver area.  They have also acquired a bunch of new Zeiss Primes (I believe Zeiss Ultra Primes) to add to their arsenal, along with their versatile zoom lens collection, so it should make for a great package, regardless of your shooting style.

We’ll find out soon enough, how close I am on my predictions, but either way, check out the companies I mentioned, because they are definitely doing stuff worth keeping an eye on.

P.S.  Macbook Pro and Macbook Air users might want to check out Matrox’s new DS1 Thunderbolt docking station, which gives you breakout to DVI or HDMI, USB3, 2-USB2 ports, a Gigabit LAN jack, and audio in and out, all through one Thunderbolt connection.  So, you can have portability, but still have several of the benefits of a desktop at home or in your office.

Heath Firestone

Heath Firestone is a Producer/Director/Editor, who specializes in advanced compositing and digital effects.  He is also a Phantom High Speed Camera Tech, and is available as a jib operator and DIT.