Opinion: Page (1) of 1 - 03/03/04 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

NAB Secrets Revealed

Well, almost By Charlie White
Everybody seems to be whispering in my ear lately. This company has a secret widget, that company has a super doohickey thats staying under wraps for a while. I dont usually like to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), where Im bound to secrecy until further notice, but this year if I hadnt signed any NDAs Id be sitting here twiddling my thumbs, wondering whats going to happen next. Whats up? Its the build-up to NAB 2004 and even though I cant reveal many specifics, I can give you a hazy look at what might happen there. So squint along with me and lets see what we can see through the fog of the upcoming HD Wars.

Sure, high-end HD editing systems will be upgraded, gussied up and generally improved upon due to their own software innovations and relentlessly speed-goosed hardware underpinnings. But the biggest action I can see so far from my behind-the-scenes vantage point is in the low end of the HD arena. Oftentimes in the past, nonlinear editing hardware and software makers have confidentially told me that anybody without a clear path to HD, or HD itself, is going to get left behind. Taking that into account, look for HD on the cheap to take center stage at this years NAB techno-fest in mid-April.

To get slightly more specific, Ive seen editing hardware that can do lots of real-time HD, in uncompressed 10-bit glory, for under $10K. Ive also heard tell of more and more support for the compressed HDV format, with lots of the usual suspects jumping into what looks like the next step in the democratization of video, this time all dressed up in high-definition finery. Ive also heard big-time rumblings about the Cupertino fruit Company, which is looking to bulldoze its way back to the top of the editing/compositing and HD world with a low-cost entry into this delectable derby of HD delights. This I gotta see.

Now while I have your attention, talking about that certain Cupertino company, allow me to slightly diverge and address what has become the most frequently asked question in these parts. Rather, Ill have to join in with you, dear readers, and ask the same query myself: Where on earth is that G5 I promised everybody I was going to review nigh on three months ago?! What the heck is going on here? The Apple Corps. is locked up tight, or so it appears from out here on the lonesome, windswept prairie, and isnt answering our calls. Our repeated plea for a mighty G5 goes continuously unheeded. Perhaps your humble narrators email and phone calls have been filtered as junk?? One things for sure: The G5s challenger, a BOXX Technologies dual-Opteron monster BOXX box, is safely ensconced deep within the Midwest Test Facility, patiently awaiting its worthy competitor. This time around, just trying to help, I supplied our entire suite of benchmarks to both companies, after which I promptly received a test unit from BOXX and nothing not a peep, not even an email reply from Apple. Now what would one surmise from this behavior? Perhaps that the current iteration of the G5 might be slaughtered by its AMD counterpart? A late-arriving speed bump for the G5 must be in the offing. Methinks actions sometimes speak louder than words.

While were talking about actions, as youve probably heard and read here on Digital Media Net, bankruptcy action, at least the bad, killing-off kind, may not be in the cards for Media 100, where white knight Optibase could save the day for Molinari and company, swooping in with its deep pockets full o cash at the last possible moment. And now, as the ?woulda, shoulda, coulda chorus continues around the digi-vid world, allow me to add my $.02: Too bad Media 100 couldnt finish up the 844/X a year earlier and offer it at its current price of $20-something-grand out of the gate, instead of the overpriced mid-$50K level. Even Media 100 CEO John Molinari himself agrees with this, talking about the lower price in an interview with me earlier this week: ?Perhaps, if I could do it all over again, Charlie, [the $20K to $50K bracket is] where we would have started. The guy is right. I sincerely think that at a low-$20s price, offered a year, or even six months earlier than its early-2002 ship date, 844/X would have given Media 100 the power over the digital video and compositing landscape that Napoleon would have had over the world if had a B-52 full of nuclear weapons. Oh, well, what might have been. But still, dont count out the Media 100ians just yet. Im rooting for them.

So back to the original subject, look for HD taking hold at a grass roots level at this years NAB. And, look for new ways to shoot, record, store and move around the stuff, too. This is going to be the most exciting NAB ever, and Digital Media Net will be there in force, as weve been for the past five years, to keep you posted on all the big-time goings-on.

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