On the final day of NAB it becomes a bit of a ghost town. Last minute out-of-towners speed through the show and bargain hunters scour the floor looking for demo item pricing. Sadly, that rarely exists anymore. But there were a few standouts that even I tried to purchase from the floor. (sadly to no avail.)
The One Man Crew from Redrock Micro
Camera sliders became all the rage when the DSLR video shooters took over. However, there were a few issues that still presented themselves if you were a microfilmmaker. First, it was tough to get a smooth movement in your shot because you need to use two hands. And the second issue comes from that second hand, which had to be constantly on the focus ring of the lens since movement away from the center of the slider changed the focal length. For small simple movements, camera sliders became more trouble then they were worth. Until now.
Truth be told, we at Microfilmmaker.com have always been Redrock Micro fans. But that’s for good reason-they consistently come up with solutions to common problems that filmmakers have. Enter the “One Man Crew.” This camera slider is motorized with variable speed settings, automatic speed easing in and out of stops, and 36” of movement. The best and probably most important feature is that the slider’s movement is parabolic. Let’s allow a moment for all of the other slider manufacturers to gently wrap themselves on their foreheads with the palm of their hands. “Duh!” This allows the camera to hold focus on the subject without riding the lens. It’s truly ‘set it and forget it’ technology and it is amazing at only $1500. Thank you Redrock Micro, thank you.
Red Giant’s New Bulletproof
Many of us have relied on Red Giant’s tools (some of which even before Red Giant owned them) for a long time. Grinder has been my go-to tool for media transcoding, as it seems to be much more robust than Compressor or some of the other stand alones. Well now there is Bulletproof. And as co-creator of the software Stu Maschwitz put it, “It’s like Grinder on steroids.”
Many companies are catching on to the importance of the footage ingest step in production, and Bulletproof takes it to a whole new level. It certainly allows you to ingest media and transcode to whatever format you choose including ProRes, but it has various other easy to use features that rival any existing competitive products. You can set in/out points, write directors notes, circle takes, do a true checksum, add true timecode, and even add color correction. Many of the DSLR cameras are made to shoot a flat image so that more can be done in the color correction stage (even flatter if you are using the Technicolor Scene Setting) and in some cases that may give the DP a bad name. Producers don’t always know what they are looking at. Now the DP can make color correction choices on set which can be burned into a transcode, or left out. With Premiere Pro and Final Cut having space for such metadata already, Bulletproof makes use of those functions by offering a simple to operate interface which can handle as much metadata as you can throw at it. On top of that, it will make sure your footage is safely downloaded before you wipe a card!
Vinten Blue Series
Vinten is the best kept secret in fluid heads. Everyone wants a name like Sachtler or O’Connor but microfilmmakers just want the quality at a great price. That’s where Vinten comes in. Last year they announced their Vision Blue Pan and Tilt heads for DLSR cameras which go for about $800 (vs. the equivalent Sachtler at $1800) and this year it’s the Vision Blue 5 which allows for larger cameras like the Panasonic HPX or Sony F4. These heads have fine tuning adjustments for weight distribution and speed of panning, and there is absolutely no torque on the sticks.
They also announced the Blue Bridge Plate for the Vision Blue which actually raises your DSLR camera above the fluid head a few inches which allows for smoother movement and balance.
This was a great year for NAB, boasting many new innovations that will enhance your production value and not damage your pocket book too badly! With everyone aimed at volume customers and software innovation dropping in price every year, the future looks bright for microfilmmakers everywhere!