NAB 2017 Awards of Excellence Winners Take Center Stage

Published on in Industry Announcements / Events

Before we get to our illustrious winners, I think providing a little background is in order. When the ProductionHUB team set out to choose our Award of Excellence Winners it seemed like such a simple task. Slam dunk, 1, 2 3. One hour to pick the winners tops right? That would be such a resounding NO. Everyone (including me) in that room fought tooth and nail to do one thing. That one thing was to get it right. So after a lot of arguing, persuading and flat out shouting at each other, we had our list. Wasn’t easy or very pretty but when the dust settled there it was. There are so many solid products out there, and I won’t lie we all had our own favorites. But that didn’t matter. Some four arduous hours later we were done. The best of the best. Here they are! 

AJA Video Systems FS-HDR

Sometimes the best new product isn’t overly flashy or expensive, but they sure do fill a need. Our first AoE winner AJA FS-DHR is right there. The FS-DHR is such a smart product - right place and right time. Just makes sense as our industry is making the big time leap to HDR. The AJA FS-HDR, is a 1RU, rack-mount, universal converter/frame synchronizer, is designed specifically to meet the HDR (High Dynamic Range) and WCG (Wide Color Gamut) needs of broadcast, OTT, post and live event AV environments, where real time, low-latency processing and color fidelity is required for 4K/UltraHD and 2K/HD workflows. Developed in partnership with Colorfront, the FS-HDR’s HDR/WCG functionality is powered by Colorfront Engine™ proprietary video processing algorithms. FS-HDR also serves as a full, 1-channel up, down, cross-converter for 4K/UltraHD/2K/HD conversion and frame sync needs and in 4-Channel mode, offers 4 independent channels of 2K/HD conversion. Check out these conversion standards below. 

HDR Conversions:

HDR to HDR;HDR to SDR; SDR to HDR WCG

Conversions:

BT.709 to BT.2020; BT.2020 to BT.709

Up and Down Conversions:

Converting HD SDR BT.709 sources to UHD HDR BT.2020

Converting UHD HDR BT.2020 sources to HD SDR BT.709

I predict that the FS-DHR is going to fly off of the shelves and be a big seller for AJA.

ARRI ALEXA SXT W

What would a ProductionHUB AOE Award list be without ARRI? ARRI does is again with the ALEXA SWT W. In a move that will increase efficiency on set, ARRI has integrated a high-quality and low-latency HD video transmitter and WiFi into the new  

ALEXA SXT W model ("W" for Wireless). Based on the popular ALEXA SXT Plus, the SXT W will replace the SXT Plus and Studio models. As always, there are upgrade options for existing owners of ALEXA SXT EV and ALEXA SXT Plus cameras. What a great idea. When I talked to shooters about going wireless with an ALEXA they were ecstatic. The options of wireless combined with the ALEXA will make for a powerful shooting combination. Additionally, The new hardware will be accompanied by software upgrade SXT SUP 2.0, which adds improved HDR monitoring, support for current SxS PRO+ and CFast 2.0 cards, quicker frame grabs, various WCU-4 and lens motor features. 

Love this list of great features from ARRI. Should make for a very popular package and I would love to put this one two punch though it’s paces. Check it out.

  • Fully wireless camera Integrated wireless video
  • Integrated WiFi
  • Integrated wireless video Integrated WiFi
  • Wireless look control
  • Wireless camera control

Atomos Sumo 19” HDR Monitor

OK, I’ll fess up. This was one of my picks. Anytime you can package a whole lot of function into anything to make life for the crew on the shoot easier I am ALL in.

Start out with 19” of set monitor/field recorder. Just that alone is pretty cool. Then add in a field switcher with XLR’s and the ability to output HDR so that your PIA client will see what the final output will be? I say mad crazy. Just look at a few of the many specifications for the Sumo. 

First production/studio monitor to combine a 19” HDR 1200nit 10+ stop panel with 4K 12bit Raw or 10bit 422 ProRes/DNxHR recording and HD recording up to 240p or live switching and recording of four 1080p60 channels. 1200nit brightness to a 19” monitor. It gives clients and crew on set instant access to review recorded content in HDR quality and doubles as a grading and editing monitor for laptops in the field. The live switching and recording is another dimension again adding the flexibility to live switch between four 1080/60p channels, record 4 x ISO channels and mix a live record complete with cueing, cross fade and hard cuts. There are a lot more features you owe it to yourself to go check it out. Absolutely sick. Boss, can we get one of these?

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Micro Panel

If you are thinking of upping your game in the color grading/post production world the Blackmagic Design DaVinci Micro Panel has to be on your purchase request list for the that next budget cycle. No more futzing with toggling and all that crap. They say that dynamite comes in small packages, and the micro panel delivers. Track balls that feel like you are now in control. Heavy yet smooooth, packing a serious wallop of DaVinci to boot. Building out a powerful yet economical suite the Micro panel would be a smart choice. They say the devil is in the details. Take a look see.

The DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is a high quality, portable low profile panel that features three high resolution trackballs and 12 precision machined control knobs for accessing all essential primary color correction tools. Above the center trackball are keys for switching between log and offset color correction, as well as a key to display DaVinci Resolve’s full screen viewer, which is great for use with laptops. Eighteen dedicated keys on the right side also give you access to the most commonly used grading features and playback controls. DaVinci Resolve Micro Panel is perfect for independent editors and colorists that need a truly portable solution, great on set to create looks and evaluate color and lighting, ideal for quickly grading video in broadcast trucks, great for education and much more!

Primary Correction Creative Controls

To take your color grading to the next creative level, the DaVinci Resolve Mini and Micro panels include 12 dedicated primary color correction control knobs. 

These are designed to make it easy for you to stylize the look of your images and generate precise “film looks.” All knobs can be pressed to instantly reset the control. That’s perfect for when you are trying something new style but get lost. Here a few of the many adjustments the editor/colorist can make. 

Y Lift

Adjust the contrast of the image in the darker areas, specifically in the Y (luminance) channel only. This adjustment is great for changing the black point without changing saturation.

Contrast

Increase contrast to make the blacks darker and the whites brighter, or decrease contrast to do the opposite. Use this to improve the dynamic range and make shots pop!

Y Gamma

Adjust the contrast of the image in the mid-tone areas, specifically in the Y (luminance) channel only. This control helps add depth to shots, along with extra vibrancy.

Pivot

Changes the center of tonality about which dark and bright parts of the image are stretched or narrowed during a contrast adjustment.

Adjust the contrast of the image in the brighter areas, specifically in the Y (luminance) channel only. You can reduce hot shots or pull the whites to make the shot look more angelic!

Mid-tone Detail

Increases the contrast of regions of the image with high edge detail to increase or decrease the perception of image sharpness and definition or when lowered regions of the image with low amounts of detail are softened while areas of high detail are left untouched. Great for softening facial features and popular for beauty shots.

Color Boost

Naturally raise the saturation in regions of the image with low saturation while leaving properly saturated areas alone. Sometimes referred to as a vibrance operation, this is great for adding color without over saturating the image.

Saturation

Increases or decreases overall image saturation. At higher values, colors appear more intense, while at lower values color intensity diminishes and can be adjusted until all color is gone, leaving a grayscale image.

Shadows

Selectively lighten or darken shadow detail. Raising this value retrieves shadow detail while leaving the mid-tones untouched.

Hue

Rotates all hues of the image around the full perimeter of the color wheel. The default setting is 50, which retains the original unaffected distribution of hues.

Highlights

Easily retrieve blown out highlight detail in high dynamic range media by lowering this parameter to achieve a smooth blend between the retrieved highlights and the unadjusted mid tones for a natural result.

I feel a serious case of color correction coming on. More coffee please.

Carl Zeiss CP.3 & CP.3 XD Lenses

The first of THREE lens and lens combinations that made the ProductionHUB AoE List. The name Carl Zeiss is synonomous with excellence bar none. So when Zeiss rolls out with a couple of new lens, we pay attention to that! So let's take a look at this solid new combo. 

The ZEISS CP.3 lenses offer the perfect combination of high image quality and reliable usability. They exhibit the clean, crisp characteristics ZEISS is known for, together with an interchangeable mount system and full-frame coverage.

The ZEISS CP.3 XD version features innovative and groundbreaking lens data technology to speed-up and simplify the workflow on set and in post-production.

The ZEISS eXtended Data is a unique technology which is based on the /i Technology and provides information about the lens’ distortion and shading characteristics in real time. With the ZEISS CP.3 XD lenses, even small productions on a limited budget gain access to the advanced techniques common in state-of-the-art, big budget films, commercials and television shows.

True cine look ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 and CP.3 XD Lenses. Ranging from 15 mm to 135 mm, the ten focal lengths available in the ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 or CP.3 XD series cover all applications from wide-angle to telephoto. The ZEISS CP.3 lenses feature advanced lens coatings, painted lens rims and special light traps within the barrel to eliminate unwelcome veiling glare and flares. The result is higher contrast, richer blacks and more saturated colors.

ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 and CP.3 XD Lenses. The ZEISS eXtended Data technology adds new opportunities to simplify and increase the accuracy of the image capture and processing workflow. ZEISS eXtended Data unifies two data sets: key lens data based on the open /i Technology standard and supported by a wide range of cameras and accessories, plus ZEISS specific lens data that contains precise lens characteristics.

A unique technology that provides information about the lens’ distortion and shading characteristics in real time to speed-up the workflow on set and in post-production. Lens settings are digitally captured on every frame, avoiding the need to manually record the lens settings for every shot. Documentation of the lens’ characteristics enhances creativity by allowing more complex shots to be handled in post-production

Standardized positioning of the focus rings and a consistent 95 mm front diameter allows for fast and easy changeover while on set smooth focus rotation even in extreme temperature conditions thanks to a new, Consistent T-stops simplifies lighting on set and exposure compensations (T2.9 for 15 to 21 mm and T2.1 for 25 to 135 mm)

Compactness redefinedZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 and CP.3 XD Lenses The compact and lightweight design enables you to use different stabilizing systems and to have a compact camera setup that is ideal for shooting in narrow spaces and for capturing dynamic shots.

The compact and lightweight design can be for handheld, gimbal, drone and Steadicam applications. Consistent size and weight across most of the focal lengths enables quick change of lenses when used on drones and gimbals. The ultra-smooth focus rotation allows use of small focus motors. 

Cineo Lighting Quantum C80

Combining white-light quality with innovative saturated color technology, the  delivers up to 50,000 lumens of controllable, full-gamut light.

The Qc80  has a substantial 2’ x 4’ diffused illuminating surface, weighing less than 50 lbs., with a maximum power of 800 watts. Cineo has developed an intuitive control strategy that allows predictable, repeatable results, either using the graphical control panel or remotely with wired or built-in wireless  control.

Four controls or four DMX channels control the entire fixture in a single mode of operation:

Cineo’s Photo-Accurate Dimming  maps the 0-100% dimming curve to actual camera stops for precise output control using the MASTER control locally or on the second channel.

  • For color-accurate white light, choose the CCT as you would with any Cineo fixture, using the WHITE rotary control or the Color  
  • To optionally add saturated color, the COLOR control adjusts the hue, the color of which is displayed on the control panel or managed on the third  channel.

Blend – Controls the amount of saturated color to be added to the white light, from full white to fully saturated color.

With the , the same color shading can be achieved regardless of the CCT used for photography. For example, +2 Green added to 3200K CCT  will look the same as +2 Green at 5600K to the correctly white- balanced camera.

Core SWX HC9 Mini Battery Packs

The new HC9 Mini maintains all the features of the Hypercore line but was designed with smaller Cine cameras in mind, such as the RED and Arri Mini. Measuring in at only 3.54 in. x 4.65 in. x 1.90 in. (.09 m. x .12 m. x .05 m.) and weighing only 1.9 lbs. (861.8 g.), The HC9 Mini is available in three versions, including V-mount, RED-specific, and a Gold-mount version that is compatible with Anton/Bauer. The HC9 Mini is a 98wh (14.8v) battery with a 12A load. With the latest in Lithium Ion technology, the HC9 Mini also comes with an LED backlit runtime LCD on the front of the battery pack that lets users know how much battery time is left when in use and also indicates remaining charge time while connected to a charger. This allows users to plan their shoots down to the minute. The RED-specific version can communicate directly with a RED camera’s LCD/VF. The HC9 Mini’s battery cells are incased in an over-molded, rubberized housing, providing additional protection against accidental impacts that may occur when operating in rugged conditions. The HC9 Mini is safe and legal for air travel.

CW Sonderoptic Leica Thalia Prime Lenses

Sometimes words cannot do a product justice. But I’ll try. Hmmm. Beautiful? Gorgeous? A cinematographers dream? As with our first lens winner this lens would be the want of any shooter. Honestly? Who would not want to shoot with these? Dare I say sexy? Yes I said sexy….Now down to brass tacks. The Leica Thalia prime lenses offer a consistently cinematic look and feel throughout the range of 9 lenses from 24mm to 180mm with an image circle of 60mm. The lenses are incredibly lightweight and compact with a matched from diameter of 95mm and are available in PL mount with /i Technology metadata contacts. The unique always-round iris design creates a bokeh that is smooth, distinct and full of character. They are smooth, forgiving, and clear without being overly sharp. The innovative iris design of the Leica Thalia lenses maintains a circular iris through all aperture stops, creating a cinematic bokeh that comes alive with character. The new Leica M 0.8 lenses bring that classic look to a variety of professional cine cameras. The Leica M 0.8 lenses retain all the classic image characteristics of the regular Leica M lenses, but feature a smooth iris rotation and larger 0.8 module / 32 pitch gear rings for focus and iris. CW selected 5 lenses for this series, choosing the fastest in each focal length. They include: 21mm f/1.4, 24mm f/1.4, 28mm f/1.4, 35mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux. Redesigned mechanics allow them to work seamlessly with traditional cine accessories. 

Hive Lighting Wasp 100-C Omni-Color LED Light Kit 

Gotta love good, smart and well thought out lighting packages. I do. When you are on the run, outta time, and on a tight budget good lighting and lighting design can save the day. That's where the Hive LED Kit comes in to play. Designed to be functional, easy to use, and oh by the way makes great light. 

The Wasp 100-C Omni-Color LED Light Kit  is a lightweight, versatile light source with a small form factor. The kit comes with 1 Wasp 100-C LED Head with 22°reflector, Spot, Medium, Wide, and Super-Wide lenses as well as a set of 4-way barndoors. Control is the key word in the construction of the 100-C. Hive uses what they call Perfect S.H.O.T controls that's an umbrella term for complete control and adjustment of every aspect of light output. Part of the success of the system is due to the use of 5 LED chip blending. Instead of the traditional 3 colors, Hive uses Red, Amber, Lime, Cyan, and Sapphire for nearly infinite color combinations with a high CRI/TLCI rating of 98 and 97. Color can be adjusted from a very warm amber 1650K to an icy blue 8000K. But control doesn't stop there. There's 360-degree hue adjustment around the color wheel as well as 0-100% saturation control. The 100-C can also be dimmed from 0-100%. You can make all of these adjustments. 0r make them remotely via your smartphone or onboard DMX. 

iZotope RX 6

RX is the industry standard audio repair tool that’s been used on countless albums, movies, and TV shows to restore damaged, noisy audio to pristine condition. From noise reduction to removing clicks to fixing distortion, RX is a complete toolkit for cleanup and audio restoration needs. Visually identify and repair problems with the standalone RX Audio Editor application, or use the plug-ins in real time in your favorite DAW or NLE.

Sigma Cine 14mm & 135mm T2 FF Cine Lenses

Rounding out our third lens choice is the Sigma’s brand new Cine FF High Speed 14mm T2 and 135mm T2 prime lenses and new Cine Prime and Zoom product options. Sigma is expanding its Cine Prime line to include two brand new lenses: the Sigma Cine FF High Speed 14mm T2 and the Sigma Cine FF High Speed 135mm T2. The high-performance Sigma Cine Prime product line, which now includes the following focal lengths and apertures – 14mm T2, 20mm T1.5, 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5, 85mm T1.5 and 135mm T2 – is compatible with the latest full-frame camera sensor technology. The Cine Prime line offers outstanding optical performance and is ready for higher resolution shooting (up to 6K-8K). 

In addition to this expansion of its Cine Lens Prime line, Sigma is now offering customers the option to order Cine lenses in metric or imperial measurements  as well as standard or full luminous paint on markings. 

SkyTechno Camera Crane

OK. I am a geek deluxe. When I saw the SkyTechno Camera Crane in action I was hooked. This HAD to make the list. Designed from the ground up, wait from the truss down, the SkyTechno Camera Crane is exactly as described. Camera cranes by themselves aren’t new. Inverted camera cranes flying off a lighting truss? Way too cool. This means the floor around the shoot is clear of the normal crane base, which frees up a ton of room. Operated by two operators, one for the crane one for the camera. This isn’t an everyday approach to production, but when you need that VERY special shot at a concert or live event, this is your baby. 

The SkyTechno telescopes up to 24 feet, can perform multiple 360-degree moves at the head and fulcrum, and inclines to 45 degrees while simultaneously tracking. It employs proprietary encoding technology to allow 3D graphics to be inserted into the live camera feed and to allow programmable and repeatable movements. 

“SkyTechno does exponentially more than other cranes, while providing all of the standard features of a high-end rig," said Marc Genin, MD of Gearhouse Broadcast USA. "With its three-axes movement and balance, operators can capture every possible angle up, down, around, over and under; literally from the floor to the ceiling, and from wall to wall with impeccably smooth movement. Shots that were previously choreographed to avoid background spoilers, such as equipment in shot or other problems that needed to be cleaned up in post, can now be managed with SkyTechno as a seamless, clean, fluid experience.”

YI HALO VR Camera 

The only VR entry in the mix the YI HALO may be the next BIGGEST thing (literally) in VR. YI HALO is the highest fidelity 360-degree capture solution for maximum stereo effect, fidelity and immersion. It consists of 17 camera units including the Jump platform’s only up-view camera unit, allowing users to experience a scene in every direction without missing a thing. YI HALO’s mechanical structure, hardware, firmware and software have been designed to deliver the highest level of imaging technology. Leveraging industrial design, electrical, firmware and optical engineering yielded a product that generates high quality 8K x 8K, 360º stereoscopic VR video at 30 frames per second, or 5.8K x 5.8K, 360º stereoscopic VR video at 60 frames per second. YI HALO 360-degree capture solution allows creatives to shoot easier, longer and from anywhere. It has a 100-minute battery life, pulling only 50 watts, but also works with AC and alternative power sources. It weighs less than seven and a half pounds, including the battery, and is easy to mount and easily portable. It comes with clear, simple Android, WiFi remote controls, previewing and automated Jump stitching.

So there you have it, the ProductionHUB Awards of Excellence winners for 2017. Be sure to check back with us as we continue to break down many of the outstanding products from 2017 NAB. But before we call it a wrap lets take a look at our Special Mentions. Till then, Be safe and see you on location. 

Special Mentions

ARRI Skypanel Firmware 3.0 

The popular SkyPanel family of LED soft lights continues to improve with its third major firmware update. Bringing 10 amazing new features and numerous refinements, SkyPanel Firmware 3.0 is a free update that can be downloaded by users and installed in any SkyPanel fixture. It allows for more control and creativity than ever before. 

Glidecam Tru-Horizon

Allows for low mode to high mode and back again in one camera movement. 

The camera will automatically remains level and horizontal all the time. It will also control the roll axis. The Glidecam Tru-Horizon can be attached to the Devin Grakm Signature series, Glidecam HD-4000 and Glidecam XR-PRO. 

Canon COMPACT-SERVO Lenses 

Compact-Servo Lens, a 70-200mm model with the same attributes as the Canon Compact-Servo 18-80mm T4.4 EF Lens, which was introduced last year. The same size and weight of its wide-tele zoom sibling, the 70-200mm T4.4 EF is designed for cinematographers moving up from Canon EF lenses and DSLRs to dedicated Canon Cine cameras such as the Canon EOS C100. The new lens offers a similar range of functions as its sibling model, making it well-suited for video applications such as documentary, cinema, news gathering, wedding and other video production. 

Tiffen SteadiCam Volt

Combine a 3-axis electronic gyroscopic stabilizer with a classic handheld platform and add a smartphone clip, and you get the Steadicam Volt. With the combination of an inertia-based stabilization device and an electronic gyroscope with haptic feedback, the Volt is a platform that is easy to balance while providing natural camera motion akin to larger and heavier stabilization platforms. The arced balancing design folds down for easy transport.

DJI Ronin 2

The DJI Ronin 2 is a new version of the company’s flagship gimbal, now equipped with a touchscreen controller and able to handle a payload of up to 30lbs (13kgs). That’s almost double the weight the previous version could handle. The camera cage is bigger, and features extendable arms the company says will accept cameras ranging from DSLRs to high-end cinema rigs.

The Ronin 2’s motors are rated at five times more powerful than the original model’s and are enclosed in a splashproof housing. The Ronin 2 stabilizes on three axis, there’s also a special two-axis mode designed for use with Steadicams. 

Redrock Eclipse

The system starts with the Atlas motor, which features the same torque and resolution improvements as the SLS motors, with the addition of a built-in MDR. The Navigator module seen on their MoVI Pro setup is back, again allowing for FIZ control, but this time paired with the Atlas motors. The third piece of the system is called the Halo Explorer. This is a LIDAR-based range finding accessory to be used for marking actors’ locations and pulling focus. It also allows for focus tracking using cine lenses, essentially an autofocus option for manual lenses.

About the Author 

Mark Foley is the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB. He is always on the look out for new products and the people that use them. Got a cool production story? Email Mark at mfoley@productionhub.com. 

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