Wednesday, April 18, 2012

N A B and Colour-Grading

Some of you may think that the letters NAB stands for the North American Brewery association. At ColorBurst Video, we know that NAB is the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, an annual extravaganza of "all things video."

When we first attended in the late '70s, it was a huge convention primarily aimed at big-dollar broadcasters, station owners, and networks. Over the years, it has grown to include the various cable networks, large and small content creators, and the various content delivery folks like Netflix and YouTube. From low-quality cellphone video to 8K theatrical movie cameras, from desktop editing systems to room-filling server-farms, if it has to do with moving images the latest-and-greatest is always unveiled at the NAB.

This year is no exception and, while ColorBurst is too small to have a booth on the exhibit floor, we are nearly overwhelmed at all the new goodies being displayed and discussed in several venues up-and-down the Vegas Strip. There are talks and presentation from industry leaders and trendsetters, technology gurus, and content creators, new equpment and upgrades, and miles of exhibits and salesfolks. There is no way anyone can see it all, so even reading about NAB 2012 requires careful planning and selection.

For ColorBurst, we're limiting ourselves to editing and postproduction. Adobe is there, of course, taking the wraps off Creative Suite 6. It generates a lot of very positive response by everyone who sees it. Overall, it looks a major step forward from the Adobe team. Canon is showing off the new C500 camera (an up-spec'ed C300) and new EOS 1Dc with new PL and EF mount zooms and primes. And... and... and...

Rather than my list of stuff you can learn about elsewhere, let me give my opinion of what seems to be a big theme at NAB:

--> NAB 2012 may be remembered as the year that advanced colour grading goes mainstream <--

Color-grading, where tint and exposure is corrected, contrast is enhanced, lighting effects are tweaked, and colors are made to... well, drool, is what separates home-movies from cinema and makes moving images feel so authentic.

Dating back to the linear post days, colour grading was done in expensive editing/grading suites with rates that could go well north of $1,000 an hour. It wasn't until the late 90s that we saw the start of advanced colour correction tools on the desktop. Today, for a small investment, you can have a post colour grading and finishing solution that will make everything else look like old VHS tape by comparison -- editor, colour grader and motion graphics via After Effects, all in one unified system with a seamless workflow.

ColorBurst has always been about making great-looking video to tell personal stories in a compelling way. Based on what's happening at this year's NAB, it looks like it can now be done with modest skills and means.

We certainly live in interesting times.

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