Phew! I’m whacked and it’s only 1:30. I hurry to get here at 9:45 to go to the Content Theater for the 3D Stereoscopic sessions. It is packed but I to find a good seat next to a thick set man. His name tab says, Cedric.

“Thanks for keeping the seat for me.” I say.
“No problem. You’re from England?”
“Australia, London and now I live in San Francisco.” and you?”
“I work for the government.”
“Making films?”
“No. I just work for the government.”
I glance down at his badge. He has covered the company name with white type-out paint. The original man in black is sitting next to me.
“For the government?”
“Yes. I work for the government.”
Silence. He fiddles with his 3D glasses.
The first session is 3D PRIMER. This is given by Phil Streather, who was the producer of “Bug! 3D”. An absolutely un-missable talk with 3D PowerPoint slides and lots of 3D clips. We all watch with our RealD 3D glasses. Amazing.

At one point he shows a 3D clip from “Starlight Express.” Stops it on an exaggerated 3D effect of a mouse on a steel rod. It¹s pointing right into my face. The show is being run on a Quantel 3D Pablo post system.

Phil asks the Quantel Pablo operator to change the Z axis and the whole steel rod and twitching mouse is magically pulled back several feet towards to background. Phil explains that the left and right images were separated by about 8% of screen width, which as far as our eyes can handle. Pulling it back to 5%, gives less 3D stereo but is easier on the eyes.

He shows a shot from “Bugs! 3D” where a left green leaf cuts the left hand end of frame and loses its Z axis (3D) info. He’s in the process of showing how it can be made into 3D again when whammy he’s cut off. No more time! Shame.

The next session is a dismal panel line up of the great and famous from the 3D world. Vince Pace is nowhere to be seen nor is 3D pioneer Lenny Lipton.

It drags on and on. Six or seven panelists. No riser, so I could only see two! Who’s talking, I know not who.

Now, I’m sure that individually each 3D expert would have been great but together, it is a disaster.
“3D is so immersive.”
“3D amplifies reality.”
“I love The Mona Lisa effect of 3D.”
Huh? The Mona Lisa effect? What is he talking about? Bring back Phil and his 3D Bugs! Phil you were great!

One by one, the row in front of me empties. By the end of this dreary hour, eleven people about two thirds of this row is empty. My government friend is still with us. What does he do?

Questions from the audience. Where¹s the audience mike? Nowhere. Suddenly we are all told to exit left. Hey, I wanted to see the next session about “Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D.” But no. Out we all go.

I wanna go back. I join the new line to go in again. No, that¹s only the half way break in the line. The end of the real line for the next session is way around the block. It¹s worse than Oakland airport. I give up.

OK. Where¹s the RED camera? Eventually I find it. Yet another line. I give up again. See the Ultimatte stand.

I do a lot of green screen and I’m desperate to see Jay Dunn, the in house AdvantEdge expert. Yes, there he is.
“Jay, I can’t add an external matte to AdvantEdge in Final Cut.”
“Yes, it’s a problem. We’re working with Apple – but they are really secretive about what they are doing. It’s tough … We are at their mercy … You know there was a Pro Applications update yesterday that may have fixed that problem.”
“Yesterday was Sunday.”
“Well whenever. It really is a mystery to us.”
“Jay, you’re the guy in charge and you say ‘it’s a mystery’.”
“Stefan, we have users who can’t get the program to run at all. Then we have users where everything works, everything – and users like you where the external inputs, like background and external key, don’t work.”
“You can’t track down why one works and one doesn’t?”
“In my office, we have two identical Intel Macs running AdvantEdge. On my colleagues’ everything works fine, on mine the external inputs don’t work. It’s a mystery.”
“It’s a mystery,” I repeat.
Life on the bleeding edge.

Dazed and confused, I wander back to RED. Wow! No line. I get in. See Stuart English. He’s the RED “workflow wizard”. Stuart and I go back 20 years or more, when he worked for Ampex Systems. We meet each year at NAB for our 10 to 15 minute chat.

We talk about the 3K $3K Scarlet camera. My first question is how do you feed a 3K signal into FCP. He laughs. “I guess you’ll have to convert to a format that FCP handles.”
“So who uses 3K?”
“No-one yet.”
“Does Scarlet actually work?”
“No, but we are confident it will.”
“Taking orders?”
He laughs. “Don’t know.”
He smiles. “Probably not it’s only $3K.”
“Does that include the lens?”
“Yes. It’s a fixed lens.”
“The brochure doesn’t give anything away.”
He nods. “We put out a press release today with more info.’

We spend the next five minutes talking about rolling shutter problems and ways to overcome them. Stuart says that a lot of cameras with CMOS chips have badly executed rolling shutters but RED pulls out the pixel info really fast and that minimizes the problems.

He’s keen for me to see the RED RAY. It’s a 4K RED DISC player that you give to your client to view his 4K movie. “On what?” I ask.
“On a Sony 4K projector. There are also a series of outputs where you can choose the resolution you want. Like 1080p for an LCD or plasma display.”
“So it’s a burner and a player?”
“No you burn on your PC or Mac using normal DVD-5 or dual play DVDs blanks and then use this player. It’s only $1,000. Comes out next year.”

Stuart is whisked away. My head is spinning.

Now to send this Blog to my editor, David Williams. Is there WiFi internet at NAB? No way. I search the South Hall for WiFi. Nothing. Search the Central Hall. Nothing. Is this 2008? Isn’t NAB all about communication?

Oh well to lunch. Again, I’m in line. Get my hot dog and apple juice – only $12. But where are the sit down tables? Nowhere. We all stand up eating our highly priced burgers and hot dogs. It’s uncivilized.

Now time for the restroom. This is true. There is just one urinal in the South Hall entrance men’s restroom. None in the ladies. A line of 10 or 12 really desperate men queue up for this single urinal. Honest, they are out the door waiting.

Madness. No WiFi internet. No sit-down tables for the nearby food concessionary and now only one urinal in the men’s room.

Mission accomplished, I wander back into the crowded South Hall. At Quantel someone knows me. He used to work at my company, Molinare in London. “You’re sort of a legend there” he says. We chat about old times at Moli and the new regime at Quantel. I’m invited to a private demo of their 3D Stereoscopic Pablo system. Come back 2:30 tomorrow. Will do.

I go to the Da-Lite screens stand. Yes, they have a 3D stereo silver screen for polarized light. I’ll buy it. 8ft across for less than $500. A bargain.

Pass the Comprehensive stand. Lots of cables on display. I want a lockable HDMI cable. The stupid things slip out of my camera all the time. Lockable HDMI? Blank looks. They think I’m mad. FireWire is even worse. I use a Sony HD Walkman on location. The firewire cable is always falling out. Lockable Firewire? More blank looks.

Eventually I track down Mike Schell, the genius behind Convergent Design. I’ve ordered their Flash XDR recorder and there it is in real life. At last! I was worried about how I’d mount it on my camera but seeing it there my worries are over. I can’t mount it – it’s too big!

Mike to the rescue.”Look at what we have in the pipeline.” The nanoFlash HD Recorder – a fraction of the size of the Flash XDR – and it takes HDMI in. It’s 4″ x 4″ x 2″ so will easily fit onto my Sony V1. It’s cheaper too.

FANTASTIC! Just what I want. Feed the output from my Sony V1U straight into it. Record on dirt-cheap compact flash cards MPEG2 4:2:2 @ 100Mbs. Drawbacks? Not until Quarter 4 ’08 – and only two flash cards against four in the XDR.

Mike’s nanoFlash has made my day. Back for a margarita at Circus Circus.

This entry was posted in 2008, NAB. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply