My Post-NAB, Red-Eye, Stream of Conciousness Review of NAB 2017

May 4, 2017

NAB Conference Recap

As we entered the convention center, Zac and I were not sure what to expect. I can tell you that we were certainly not prepared to experience what lay ahead. Across the sprawling Las Vegas convention center lay the second largest convention of the year in a town that exists only to host. Half of the show was full of equipment that didn’t apply to us – satellites, production trailers, switching software. The other half, however, became a brain melting plethora of products. Some were amazing; new and innovative. Others just a mere copycat of many of their closest neighbors.

We spent 30 hours in 3 days wandering carefully among the booths of lights, cranes, displays, cameras, and everything else under the sun.

NAB Conference Recap

It comes as no surprise that one of the highlights of the show for me was the newly released Arri Skypanel Firmware 3.0. The third update to the popular lighting line has upgraded the fixture yet again to include even more features than I thought were possible without buying an entirely new fixture. They have upgraded the menu system (a welcome addition), enabled extended DMX control, and added a long awaited feature that extends the in-fixture effects to include more than just party mode. You now have access to fire effects, police sirens, TV flicker, and clouds passing just to name a few. The most notable feature of these is that on the multi-panel fixtures such as the S-60 and S-120, the software is able to treat the panels as separate entities enabling a multi-source effect.

This is super effective to recreate effects that are ideally made by more than one light. It’s clear that Arri has been dumping money less into bending metal and optics and more into creating software – a style that is a welcome relief to me as the LED industry continues to force new fixtures on you.

Speaking of new fixtures – they were everywhere in all shapes and sizes. There were still some vendors showcasing traditional lighting such as K5600 with their Joker series and the Kurve softbox.

NAB Conference Recap

What stood out among all of these LED’s this year, however, was the presence of many more studio based fixtures. A few companies are breaking out with their own version of popular studio fixtures such as cyc lights and space lights. The cyc light offerings left something to be desired on most fronts, but some interesting offerings from Zylight (the daisy-chainable power RGBW fixture), and a mirrored cyc adapter by ETC that can fasten to any of their LED Source Four fixtures were enticing prospects.

On the space light front, the field is looking pretty even with offerings from some classic names like Mole Richardson with their fixture that boasts a 6k equivalent, and even accepts a skypan style reflector system. Chroma-Q, Sumolight, and a soon to be announced version from Fiilex were among some of the vendors looking to break into the spacelight game. In studio fixtures, LED is a no-brainer from a power savings perspective. I plan to do some testing with these units a little later in the year and will definitely report back.

NAB Conference Recap

Lastly, while I could go on all day about the new releases from Quasar (yes, RGB is coming!) and Litegar who have finally released a locking header cable, I’ll get away from the LED front (is that possible?) and touch on the real grip saver of the release.
While visiting the Chimera booth, I got the opportunity to have some face-time with a product that we have all been wishing on for a while. Though it hasn’t been named and there is no price speculation, Chimera has developed a tunable diffusion material.

NAB Conference Recap

It wasn’t much thicker than your standard gel, and was controlled by a little DC dimmer box that pumped power into the sheet via a copper wire run around the frame. It was tunable from completely clear to a 216-esque diffusion and it looked great. Before long, gone may be the days of 10 different diffusion frames on the truck. Instead, you can dial in the exact level of diff you need on a frame without having to clumsily swap in between takes. The real question becomes – are diff frames now the electrician’s’ responsibility? Time will tell.

NAB was a real winner this year with a ton of small upgrades from companies we have grown to love, as well as some really interesting new releases for the market. Definitely stay tuned because I will be sure to dig farther into this year’s releases as our tech-blog gets the opportunity to get on set with some of the new fixtures for 2017!

NAB Conference Recap

Written By: Johnny BaumBaum – Shop Manager

John Baumgartner

In three words: Kind, Caring, Balding. With a vast knowledge of camera and lighting gear, John will help see your project through from start to finish. When not knee deep in poorly coiled stingers, John enjoys exploring Philadelphia’s extensive restaurant scene and day sailing on his glorious 13′ yacht.