Big bytes in b’cast

Tech side fine-tunes tube view at NAB

NAB, the annual Las Vegas broadcasting confab, has become ever more tech-heavy, this year showcasing trends and products likely to shape Hollywood in coming years. Among them:

  • Companies that make expensive post-production equipment are shifting to software-only systems running on cheap Intel-based and Macintosh machines, using open operating systems such as Linux.

That should mean much cheaper prices, a welcome change for cost-conscious Hollywood CFOs. But it puts pressure on stalwarts like Avid and Quantel, which make powerful — and pricey — custom hardware and software.

  • High, high definition. Dalsa became the second company to introduce a video camera with 4,000 lines of horizontal resolution, double that of high-def cameras such as Sony’s CineAltas. Meanwhile, TV and film editing and finishing will increasingly be done in uncompressed high-def video.

  • High, high capacity. All that resolution demands a lot of storage. One answer is the high-capacity DVD successor known as Blu-Ray.

Sony broadcast vidcams and playback decks will have Blu-Ray drives instead of videotape, while Panasonic touted consumer Blu-Ray recorders.

JVC took another path, pushing a pro version of its Digital VHS tape format for digital dailies.

The first D-VHS Pro machines already have been installed at the new MGM headquarters, and were used in “Seabiscuit” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” The $12 tapes offer a cheap, high-quality format that can be copy-protected to run on a specific deck.

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