The NAB hunt for pheasants under glass
and the latest 3D gear

Playback Magazine Article by: Suzan Ayscough
Apr 5, 2010

"We're looking at the future of 3D and how it relates to what we're doing," says Rob Sim, despite the current 3D frenzy.

"Sony will be unveiling some kind of 3D prototype, we think [at this year's National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas], adds Sim, president/CEO of Toronto-based Sim Video International, noting another camera from Panasonic is also expected after last year's "pheasant under glass" (prototypes kept behind glass).

"NAB is really a search-and-discover mission for us," says Sim, laughing. "The number one thing we're looking for is something we've never heard of."

The camera shop veteran is sending a larger contingency (seven people) to this year's NAB, the annual hardware extravaganza running April 10-15. And while 3D equipment and trinkets are definitely on the shopping list, the top priority is the latest in file-based workflow management systems.

"We believe file-based workflow is the future," explains Sim. "We are always on the lookout for new cameras, but this year we're focusing our attention on the new tapeless acquisition systems coming down the pipeline."

"A couple of years ago, file-based workflow was scaring people; now everyone is kind of eager to work in a file-based environment," adds Chris Parker, digital cinema specialist at Bling Digital, a division of Sim Video.

"It was a five- to 10-year kind of transition, and the biggest difference over the last two years is the perception," explains Parker of the new embrace. "Everything that people didn't like about it they like today, including multiple copies and transfers from one city to another, so editors in L.A. can receive footage the day after."

Parker explains the perception changed with cash and time savings for producers: "If the decisions people are making on set can carry all the way down the post chain, then it gets things happening a lot faster. Not using film or videotape on the whole front end of your production, until your output of a studio master, can save both time and money." And his specialty: "We tailor the workflow for each production."

This is all to say that Sim Video and Bling are confident that whatever happens with the future of 3D, file-based workflow is here to stay.

"We are in the midst of upgrading, so we'll be talking to those vendors," says Parker. "There's a million different post workflows now, and we're finding productions can pick and choose what meets their needs, mainly those that are simpler and faster."

Sim Video is the Canadian service center for the Red Camera, so it will also be checking out any new related workflow systems, especially as it has already upgraded 10 of the 35 Red Cameras to M-X, says Sim. "We're already working with them out at warehouse 13 and everybody is sort of asking for them, mainly because we're seeing substantial performance improvement," he continues. "They're much more stable; there are less and less problems, and the cameras are more and more reliable."

Assimilate Scratch is revealing a multi-Red Rocket solution at NAB, which is one of the workflow products "that we are very interested in seeing," notes Sim. And in the land of high-speed cameras, "We're looking for any new reveals or upgrades by Phantom and evaluating other potential high-speed systems."

Of course la piece de la resistance for camera lovers will be the newest 3D lenses.

"Fuji is bringing out a matched set of lenses," notes David J. Woods, founder of Toronto post shop DJ Woods and its new 3D subsidiary 3reedom Digital. "We're finding there's very few matched sets of lenses," he says of a current 3D production problem, noting that Fuji had its prototype matched lenses "on the red carpet of the Academy Awards."

"[Fuji is] supposed to be delivering them shortly, and they're supposed to have guaranteed matched lenses," he adds.

Woods is well aware of the latest 3D gear and has installed a 3D theater (with a 13-foot-by-eight-foot silver screen), complete with the newest Pablo post system. He says 3reedom is now the only certified RealD post facility in Canada.

Like many, Woods believes that sports will really drive the 3D revolution. And the race is on, from golf at the Masters Tournament (perhaps Tiger Woods' 3D comeback is another first) to the World Cup in June.

"The big goal, and the complete rollout for all sports is the World Cup in June," says Diane Woods, general manager (and sister of David) at DJ Woods. "Consumer television sales and everything else is gearing up for the big event," she says. "Even the Sony PlayStation 3 FIFA game is going to be out in 3D by then."

The 2010 Masters, which kicks off with broadcasts from CBS and ESPN beginning on April 7, will be made available in 3D, a first for the tournament and for the 3D TV industry in general. The event will be aired live in 3D by Comcast and on the Masters website, making it the first live 3D broadcast of a major sporting event, as well as the first live simulcast of an event in 3D online.