NAB2011 was on the whole was a lot more interesting than I think we all first thought it would be.
Putting aside Apples FCPX announcement (though I will return back to it – obviously) the overall story that came out of NAB was that of affordable 3D production, from acquisition to transmission.
3D has long been viewed by the majority as somewhat of a ‘fad’ or rather a technical dream of the future and not a production possibility of now. These ideas may well be coming to an end after the technology that was showed at this year’s NAB Show.
With file base cameras becoming the standard weapon of choice for most productions this has paved the way forward for much cheaper 3D cameras. Panasonics P2 based 3D camera (AG3DP1) and Sony’s XDCAM EX 3D camera (BMW-TD300) both show a great inroads for productions to use tried and tested equipment in the field for 3D productions. But the worry for people here is the lack of guidelines for producing 3D from both a technical and artistic viewpoint. James Cameron appeared to realise this and called for an agreed standardisation of 3D productions.
With production workflows in mind NLE systems have been able to handle 3D material for some time and for the most of it the usual suspects Avid Media Composer, Apples Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere haven’t really embraced it completely (though Adobe with After Effects does offer a rather neat solution) its left to the likes of Sony Vegas, Quantel and Autodesk to offer true 3D manipulation tool sets for the editor. Without a common ‘workhorse’ solution, productions may well still worry about the production workflow, especially if they wish to keep it in house.
Which bring me neatly onto the already infamous FCPX or rather Final Cut Pro Ten.
Never before has a pre release piece of software shown by a developer (who isn’t even exhibiting at the show!?) generated such hysteria. The now infamous showing of FCPX has set the whole FCP community alight and in most cases has appeared to have caused a divide within the diehard fans. From the worries of the ‘it looks too like iMovie’ to the joys of ‘$299 download is awesome!’ FCPX has raised more question than it can ever answer without its public release. For my point of view and the fact I didn’t attended the Super Group meeting where the software was shown all I can do is speculate be seeing as the release date is now so close to hand I think I should see it in the flesh before casting a stern eye on its performance and use. However from the few things I have seen I think it’s safe to say that FCPX is here to stay and looks like it adds more fuel to the fire to suggest that the application is going down the laptop and iMAC route rather than that of the MacPro workstation which is the professionals (which is what NAB attracts let’s face it) weapon of choice.
Will FCPX prove as big a success in the professional market as it older brother did? We'll just have to wait and see.