I just returned from Digital Video Expo 10 (DV Expo) in Pasadena, California. Following are my impressions about the video trends that were apparent at the show.
Right off, I was struck with the fact that the event billed itself as “3D Central,” with the byline of “HD Content Creation and Distribution for the 21st Century.” That was an honest description. Looking at the exhibits, standard definition video is dead and long gone. This show was all about high definition SLRs, specifically the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 7D, EOS Rebel T2i and the new EOS 60D. There was a 3D contingent there too, but it paled in comparison to the DSLR buzz.
The first thing to greet you upon entering the show were some astonishing 3-D monitors, and the prices are equally breathtaking. Who knows where 3-D technology is headed? (More on that next post.)
Canon HD DSLR Cameras Changing The Video Industry
What a difference from last year when I went searching for a new HD camera. The DSLR phenomenon is simply amazing. In two years time Canon has changed the playing field for independent film makers, wedding, event and corporate videographers, and I think this turn of events was as surprising for Canon as for us end users. I have heard that they added the HD video capability to satisfy the needs of news journalists and battlefield reporters who want to quickly capture HD video and stills from the same compact equipment. Indie film producers and videographers jumped on this technology and now it is a tidal wave changing the video production industry.
The exhibit floor was filled with manufacturers taking advantage of this trend. In fact, there was barely a booth without at least one Canon HD DSLR on display. It reminds me of the saying that the people who made the most money during the California gold rush were the people selling supplies to the miners. I lost count of the booths selling hand held stabilizers, shoulder mounts, sliders, viewfinders, focus pullers and various contraptions for these cameras. There were some very pretty pieces of aluminum tubing selling at astronomical prices. I came away wondering how much of this stuff was really necessary.
Special Needs Of Canon HD Cameras: Dual System Sound
One item that is necessary for DSLR shooters, unless you are strictly shooting MOS (without sound) is a separate audio recorder. The EOS 5D Mark II and the new EOS 60D have audio meters and allow you to control the volume of audio being recorded. However, they do not record high quality audio (I got that directly from one of the Canon reps), plus you cannot monitor the audio because there is no headphone jack. The other models only have auto gain, and don’t even think about using the on-camera mic for anything other than a scratch track or in an emergency.
I ended up buying the Zoom H4n, a 4 channel recorder which records up to 24-bit hd audio at 96 kHz. It seems to be the model of choice. I worked with one last weekend and was impressed. It is a $299 digital recorder that matches what a $5,000 Nagra recorder did five years ago. Another good option is the Tascam DR-100, another highly regarded unit. Gotta love technology for giving us such fantastic tools at incredible prices.
LED Lighting Systems Shine At DV Expo
Lighting has changed remarkably in just two years, too. There were a couple of Arri fresnel lights on the floor, although not for sale but being used to light models or still lifes to demonstrate cameras. Otherwise, most all of the lighting shown was LEDs, with a few nice fluorescent units.
Fluorescent lighting has come of age as a video light. They offer soft, low power lighting at reasonable prices. I still find the light from LEDs to be slightly cool looking, but LED was the predominant light on the floor. Lightpanels, Tiffen and Alzo Video were represented. Alzo in particular has some affordable and attractive fluorescents (Pan-L-Lites) and some very affordable on-camera LED lights.
Final Thoughts On Digital Video Expo
The attendees were eager, curious and attentive, and ranged from fresh faced youngsters to well seasoned veterans. It is still a primarily male crowd. I was pleased to see a good representation of latinos in the audience. I hope the producer, New Bay Media, can keep the show going. I have attended this event in past years and my impression is that it gets a little smaller each year. The abundance of online video demonstrations of equipment may be taking its toll, along with the cost of traveling to a show and the “new economy.”
Now I’m going to take that Zoom H4n out of its box, get out my Canon T2i DSLR and have some fun!