By Evan Morris, Field Reporter
On April 18, department leaders from CRM Studios descended upon the National Association of Broadcasters (aka NABshow 2015) annual trade show and expo in Las Vegas with several goals in mind. “Our mission was simply to evaluate a couple of cameras, look at some lighting options, find a new teleprompter system and look at drones,” says Director of Production, Scott Burress. They had come to the right place.
For the uninitiated, N.A.B. (as the convention is almost universally referred to) is a yearly exhibition and celebration of broadcast industry technology. The latest offerings of some 1,726 unique exhibitors beckon people from across the globe to converge in the desert looking for “inspiration, emerging technology, and networking possibilities.” Think of NAB as the Burning Man of Broadcast Tech.
Goal 1: CAMERAS
With such an expansive array of offerings, it’s sometimes challenging to stay on-mission. The scope of 4K cameras alone was particularly impressive. As Burress puts it, “It was interesting how many 4K cameras are out there, from really high-end options like Panasonic’s VariCam 35 4K Camera which is upwards of $50K, to small, fixed lens options from Sony and Canon that are each under $3K.” So, was he able to effectively evaluate all of them? “We have it narrowed down to the Sony FS7 and the Canon C300 Mark II.”
First Goal: Accomplished.
Goal 2: TELEPROMPTERS
Next, it was time to find a new teleprompter system. CRM traditionally operates with a MAC based portable program called Presentation Prompter. For most jobs, especially those involving a single script, this prompter system does very well. It’s a relatively inexpensive program that transports easily and can be configured to operate several different ways, provided the user has time to go through the steps to make the changes. Because CRM Studios values versatility, we wanted something more agile as well as something we could run from a Windows OS.
After reviewing multiple options, CEO Steve Dunning and Director of IT Michael Murray brought home the TeleScript AV Teleprompter System. It features a very intuitive ten-button controller and can also be steered with a mouse or foot pedal. The Run List mode allows the user to toggle quickly back and forth between multiple scripts and even make quick edits without dropping out of prompt mode. It’s a fantastic addition to the CRM arsenal.
Goal Two: Accomplished.
Goal 3: LIGHTING
Lighting is one area of the broadcast industry that is in a constant state of innovation while also remaining largely unchanged. After taking the latest gimmick out for a spin, many a gaffer simply returns to the tried and true methods of standard lamps and ballasts, gelled and adjusted by hand. And because lighting fixtures consume so much energy and produce so much heat, there is a constant search for more efficient solutions.
Fluorescents have become increasingly popular in recent years, but the biggest player seems to be LED (light emitting diodes) lighting. LEDs show great promise, particularly in the light-to-heat ratio of energy consumption.
“LED is lighter and cooler,” says John McGlothlin, Director of Live Production, “You can shoot in someone’s office without blowing a breaker or baking them out of there.”
Goal Three: Still evolving.
Goal 4: DRONES
Despite the proliferation of 4K cameras, portable prompters, and LED lights, this year had to be described as “The Year of the Drone.” Nowhere was this more evident than inside the Drone Pavilion, a special section of NAB devoted to dozens of different drones all with different features. CRM’s very own Michael Murray even won a 3D Robotics, Inc. Solo Smart Drone! As it turns out, this drone is semi-autonomous meaning it can be programmed to fly one of many designated patterns over and over again so the operator can focus specifically on camera work. Now that’s a versatile feature and CRM Studios didn’t even have to pay for it!
Goal Four: Accomplished!
Of course, you can’t attend a show that large without finding something you didn’t even know you needed. In this case, it was a versatile, battery-powered 7” field monitor and software from FoolCat. This little guy has digital card slots and internal storage capabilities making it function as a practical extension of whatever camera is feeding it. It wasn’t quite ready to purchase from the showroom floor—almost conscientiously relieving the CRM team of an added burden as they made their way home. Overall it was an exhausting, successful trip for the entire team at CRM Studios who are eager to put their new toys to work on another exciting video production.