If you follow video production products and technology you can't help but notice that NAB 2013 has just closed. I was watching the news and press-releases from afar and here are the top 3 products that peeked my interest and that will be of interest to Guerrilla Filmmakers. Perhaps we wont be dashing out to buy these tomorrow but they do give us some insight into the direction that products may be heading in the next year or so:
BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera
No surprise what my top most interesting product of NAB 2013 is: the BlackMagic S16 Pocket Cinema Camera. No surprise it's of interest but I don't think many people saw this one coming. For about a grand you get a pocketable video camera that records with 13 stops of dynamic range in lossless format to cheap SD cards and takes micro-four thirds lenses. Name one filmmaker who isn't intrigued by the idea of a cinema quality camera that fits in your pocket. If it delivers on its promise of being small enough to carry anywhere but flexible enough and adaptable to scale into the heart of a full on film rig, BlackMagic are going to sell thousands!
The biggest issue I see is BlackMagic's reputation. In my opinion they are the most innovative camera manufacturer out there today - and they are out there. They aren't constrained by decades of previous designs or a huge current camera lineup that they have to be careful slotting into without rocking the boat too much. As a result we are seeing revolutionary cameras from BlackMagic. On the downside, they don't have decades of R&D and manufacturing know-how under their belts and they seem to be rushing their products to market. They're catching a lot of press but they're also getting something of a reputation for shipping beta hardware with an understanding that they'll fix the software at some later date. The jury is still out but I can't wait to read review from real-world users of this camera when it ships this summer.
Tascam DR-60D PCM Recorder
Is Tascam's new field recorder revolutionary or just a DR-40 in a fancy frock? It does share a lot of the features and specifications of the DR-40 but that's not a bad thing. The DR-40 has been over-shadowed by the Zoom H4n although they are very similar and the Tascam is the best part of $100 cheaper than the Zoom. While both the Zoom H4n and DR-40 are used by many, many HDSLR videographers, using them has always been a little tricky as is attaching them to your camera or rig. The DR-60D shows that Tascam has been listening to videographers; the aesthetic and UI both seem perfectly suited filmmakers and there are several features that will be very useful. Currently you can't find the DR-60 for less than retail which, at $350 is $80 more than the street price of a H4n and $150 more than the DR-40. At that price I see a lot of Guerrilla filmmakers sticking with the less convenient form-factor recorders. Once the street price drops $50 or more things will start to be interesting.
The takeaway here is that manufacturers are listening to enthusiast filmmakers. Hopefully we'll be seeing even more of these kind of products geared towards our use-cases instead of us having to adapt devices not designed for our purposes.
Freefly Movi M10 Gimbal System
At $15000 most guerrilla filmmakers are not going to rush out and buy the much-hyped Movi M10 digitally-stabilized camera gimbal support. It does look amazing though as anyone who has tried to fly their DSLR on a GlideCam without a lot of experience can attest (I count myself among that number). The buzz from the show was that the steadicam operator's days were numbered and, while this is probably a huge exaggeration the promise of being able to run and gun with dolly-like stability is intriguing. Hopefully the M10 is like looking at the new S-class Mercedes you will never be able to afford: many of the features you see in the top of the line Merc that seem space-age today, will be commonplace in a few years. We live in hope.