Image Capture At NAB 2024

At the 2024 NAB Show key themes for camera vendors seem set to be software powered flexibility, simultaneous SDR/HDR workflows, cinematic production and of course, remote & ground to cloud contribution.

Visitors to the 2024 NAB Show looking for new innovation in camera technology and the ecosystem of monitoring, capture and software tools used for image capture in broadcast production will not be disappointed. The range of use cases and workflows within broadcast production is huge and vendors are busy rising to the challenge. There is a lot to see.

Software-Defined Cameras Are All The Rage

Because much of this functionality is now driven by software, which the user can select for instantaneous access, customers only pay for the functionality they are actually going to use. This has created a cost-effective way to gain access to desired features without having to purchase them forever. It also means a camera can be providing HD super slo-mo coverage of rugby one day, and UHD capture of an entertainment show the next.

And if they need something extra, a new feature can be added in moments, even in the field, using wireless connectivity methods like Sony’s Near Field Communication (NFC) app that makes it more convenient to make transactions, exchange content and connect devices. With it users can buy an upgrade for a week, a month or for unlimited use.

This workflow-centric strategy for cameras also includes the cloud for fast processing and file sharing. Blackmagic Design offers an app for its cameras that allows users to shoot images, work with the company’s private cloud service, and easily share proxies. The new 4K camera-to-cloud mode lets users record and upload much higher quality bitrate H.265 video with high framerates and customized parameters.

Hands-Free PTZ Gaining Ground

With budgets tight and resources limited, many TV stations are opting for robotically controlled cameras, which offer consistent on-air looks with minimal technical errors. These systems typically only require a single person to operate multiple camera in a studio, adding graphics and other creative elements from the control panel. The operational saving can be significant. At NAB a plethora of companies will be showing robotic cameras in all shapes, sizes and price ranges.

Simultaneous SDR/HDR Workflows

In order to keep costs down, many productions deploy an SDR/HDR simulcast workflow. There seems to be some ongoing debate over whether shooting in HDR and down-converting, or shooting SDR and up-converting deliver more reliable results. This dual workflow requirement will be reflected by some vendors adding new CCU and processing equipment that allows the crew to create the HDR broadcast with a perfect SDR broadcast side by side. Common LUT settings are also being employed for camera shading in the CCU.

Broadcast Goes Cinema Style

With increasing regularity, the sidelines of many sports events are now populated with operators of DSLR cameras. This has brought a “cinematic” look to live sports, capturing images with a shallow depth of field and alternate focusing methods to bring new creativity for viewers. Mirrorless cameras and shallow–depth-of-field systems have become a staple in sports productions so expect to see a wealth of cinematic camera technology on the show floor.

Ground To Cloud

The desire to contribute content directly from the camera into cloud-based and remote contribution workflows seems set to be another key theme. Many vendors will demonstrate new features like in-built or camera mounted transmitters.

With the rise of AI enabled and automated production software also likely to be a major talking point at the show, the concept of AI powered remote camera control seems likely to be discussed.

Vendor Focus

Atomos (Booth C4931), will show its latest generation of Shogun camera-mounted monitor-recorders: Shogun and Shogun Ultra. Following the new Ninja models announced last year, both devices incorporate a completely new operating system called AtomOS 11, that delivers new features like EL Zone exposure referenced colorized image, ARRI False Color, and new scheduled playback and recording tools.

The Atomos Shogun series.

The Atomos Shogun series.

The new Shoguns include more codecs as standard: 6K Apple ProRes RAW (8K with Shogun Ultra), Apple ProRes, DNxHD as well as H.265, which was previously available only as a paid option. For better consistency, Shogun and Shogun Ultra have the same differentiating features as the new Ninja and Ninja Ultra.

The key differences between the new Shogun and Ninja lines is the screen size and brightness—5-inch, 1000 nit versus 7-inch, 2000 nit – and cloud connectivity (modular or integrated).

Because Shogun has both 12G-SDI and HDMI inputs and outputs, it can be used for cross-conversion. Shogun also now has more power options, with an NP battery slot and an integrated 2.1mm locking jack DC input socket.

The Shogun has the company’s new 4K camera-to-cloud mode that lets users record and upload much higher quality bitrate H.265 video with higher framerates and customized parameters. The Ursa Broadcast G2 camera will be shown at this year’s NAB Show supporting this app.

Among the new cameras on display, Blackmagic Design (Booth SL5005) will show its Cinema Camera 6K, a high-end digital film camera with a full frame 6K sensor, 13 stops of dynamic range, L-Mount lens mount and dual native ISO up to 25,600 for low light performance and recording to CFexpress cards. This new model features a 24 x 36mm 6K sensor, allowing for large format cinema camera image quality in a portable, lightweight body. Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K also uses an L-Mount for lenses which works with a wide range of new and vintage lenses. 

The Blackmagic Design Cinema 6K.

The Blackmagic Design Cinema 6K.

The large full frame sensor in Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K lets customers work in a variety of film formats and aspect ratios without sacrificing quality. Using the full area of the sensor gives customers an open gate 3:2 image which enables reframing shots in postproduction. The large sensor also enables true 6:5 anamorphic without cropping, making widescreen cinematic images more detailed and in higher resolution. Customers can even use the classic Super 35 sized window on the sensor to create an instant ‘close up’ version of their shot that fits seamlessly with open gate footage.

Blackmagic will also show its URSA Broadcast G2 camera designed for both traditional and online broadcasters. The 3 cameras in 1 design allows it to work as a 4K production camera, a 4K studio camera or a 6K digital film camera. It records to common SD cards, UHS-II cards, CFast 2.0 cards or external USB disks, using common file formats such as H.265, ProRes and Blackmagic RAW. The 6K sensor combined with Blackmagic generation 5 color science is the same imaging technology used in digital film cameras.

Also at the booth, Blackmagic will show its URSA Broadcast ENG Kit, announced last fall, that provides a body armor for the top of the camera and maintains thermal airflow while protecting the top vents from dust or wet conditions. The rugged ENG handle is an open-ended top handle that makes it easier for you to quickly pick up the camera for instant ENG-style shooting and also adds multiple 3/8”-16 mounting threads to allow you to add accessories to the top or sides of the handle. There is also a rotating light mount, a microphone mount, and side panel cradle designed to hold hard-to-mount accessories such as portable USB drives, wireless transmitters and receivers, and smartphones being used for live streaming.

Among other major camera makers at the show:

Ikegami, Booth # C3819, is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year and will demonstrate the latest versions of its UHK-X600, UHK-X700, UHK-X750, HDK-99, UHL-43 and UHL-F4000 cameras. That’s in addition to a full range of broadcast monitors. The company said it is moving towards 2160p 4K-UHD resolution as the globally preferred standard for producing high-value television content.

Grass Valley, Booth #C2308, will show its LDX 100 Series cameras with a range of new features like HDR/SDR operation, high-speed shooting and a wireless transmitter.

Sony Electronics, Booth C8201, will introduce the PDT-FP1 portable data transmitter for high-speed transport of still images and video directly from the camera via 5G networks.

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