NAB 2019: What We Expect And Hope To See At This Year’s NAB

Like many trade shows, the NAB Show, which runs from April 6 through April 11 in Las Vegas, serves many different groups engaged in producing many different types of video content. Attendees come from a broad spectrum of industries, including traditional television, radio broadcasting, cybersecurity, gaming, education and cutting-edge technologies, like VR, AR and mixed reality. But each year, directors, cinematographers, producers and independent filmmakers come to NAB looking for specific types of technology, hardware, apps and services that allow them to get the most out of their workflows. So, to help you make sense of it all, we’ve compiled a list of what we both expect and hope to see at this year’s NAB 2019 trade show:

1. Cameras: Many independent filmmakers, cinematographers, vloggers and photographers will be seeking new digital cinema cameras in the $5,000-to-$10,000 range. Some might even be searching for features and capabilities that aren’t even offered on cameras yet. For instance, how about a 2000-nit LCD screen that can actually be used and viewed in direct daylight? Also, while there will be some who want to get their hands on the latest full-frame mirrorless cameras from Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic and others, many independent filmmakers may not see full frame as the best solution. So, some will be on the lookout for cameras with a solid S35 image sensor, good low-light capability and affordable media.

Some will also be looking for alternatives to the Canon EOS C300 Mark II, Sony FS7 Mark II and the Panasonic AU-EVA 1 cameras. The Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro G2 and the ARRI Mini LF have already been announced, but we’re anxious to actually get some hands-on time with them. Lastly, there will be talk of 8K-resolution features on some cameras, but practically speaking, it’s not something most filmmakers are using at the moment.

2. Lenses: There’s always a lot of great glass at NAB. We’ll be excited to see what lenses Zeiss has on view, and we’d love to get our hands on the new Zeiss ZX1 full-frame camera. Plus, we hope to see Sigma’s new line of Cine lenses and Sigma’s full-frame L-mount Art lenses. We’re also expecting to see new lenses for full-frame systems by many of the camera manufacturers, as well as other third-party lenses from companies like Tokina, Rokinon and others. Nevertheless, some filmmakers would love to see a RF-Lens-to-PL adapter for mounting the great new Canon RF lenses to higher-end cinema cameras. (Perhaps someone has cracked that code?) Some will be searching high and low for that sort of solution.

3. Lighting: A broad spectrum of lighting products, services, solutions and accessories for all different scenarios will be on display. As in past years, we expect to see some prototype lighting systems, too. One specific type of product we’re interested in seeing is an LED-equivalent of the ARRI 650 Fresnel. For filmmakers on a budget, it’d be great to see a rugged affordable model with a 4.5-inch lens, with barn doors that can actually make as good cuts as the ARRI, plus decent output. There are plenty of LED fresnels on the market, but most are too large, expensive and fragile, and the smaller LED fresnels are expensive and don’t have the output, versatility and range of the common ARRI 650 Fresnel.

4. Audio: For filmmakers, audio continues to be a point of interest since competition is driving down prices for some products and innovation is offering new ways of streamlining workflows. Plus, there will most likely be solutions for those experimenting with virtual reality, augmented reality and other new-media platforms.

Still, right now, filmmakers are looking to save money. Here are two specific products filmmakers on a budget want now: We’d love to see a hyper-cardioid-mic equivalent of the Audio Technica AT-875R rugged shotgun mic, which costs less than $200. But if you’re looking for a hyper cardioid with a wider pickup pattern, the only choices cost three times that price, such as the Audix SCX1 HC or Audio Technica AT 4053. If a company made a killer $300 hyper cardioid mic, it would provide a viable alternative. On the wireless side of audio, it would be helpful to find an affordable 1.9GHz or 2.4Ghz wireless lavaliere microphone system (sub $700) that doesn’t use expensive proprietary batteries.

5. Displays, HDR, Accessories And More For Optimizing Content And Workflow: Ultra-HD and 4K-video workflows are driving the need for higher-res monitors and LCDs. We’re sure to see these, as well as some curved computer displays, although that’s mostly like a pricey extra. When it comes to HDR (or high dynamic range) features, our guess is that this will appear throughout various products, apps and services at NAB since it’s not just built into displays, but it’s a feature that appears through the workflow, from capture through edit to post.

There will be lots of accessories on view, too, including gimbals and tripods. We expect lots of software and apps for post-production workflows, as well. One innovation—or buzz word—we also expect is artificial intelligence, or AI, since it’s seen as a technology that can improve just about any type of product. (For example, new full-frame cameras are using AI in tracking autofocus technologies.) But we’ll be sure to do a claim check and scrutinize the various technologies to see if they’re actually implementing AI in a way that helps filmmakers. 

Will be reporting from NAB 2019 and blogging on all these developments and more in the coming days, so stay tuned.