Apr 2014

Oh Apple Where Art Thou?

On more than a couple of occasions wandering the halls of NAB this year, I heard comments from random passers-by along the lines of, “WHY can't Apple BE here? I mean how hard is it?”

I have to agree with them. One of the largest companies in the world, sitting on $159 BILLION in CASH, fer Jimminy Cricket, and they can't break off a tiny fractional piece o’ that to come to NAB, set up a modest booth and show off their stuff. Not to mention give the faithful users some swag.

Believe me, I understand why they have opted not to come to the show - they can get an audience of 100M of their peeps via their tightly controlled shows on their website, vs. 100k via NAB. When you get this big, it’s all about the percentages. And this is exactly the issue - they are showing their MicroSoftiness, their not-hungry, beaner-centric approach. Unlike Blackmagic and Atomos, they now only talk about upcoming products via their own TV channel.
But I have to say that this particular 100,000 people talk to all the other people that use Apple products. Do the math.

I would think that they could send a few geniuses and some hardware and software to show those of us who use and love their products (and spent time and money to come to Vegas), that they are AT LEAST
thinking about us. They're still producing some really nice hardware and software — but the Blackmagics of the world are taking over the wow factor that Steve used to give us in their product launches. I dunno about you, but I feel more connected to, and excited by, Blackmagic than Apple now. Which makes me happy for BM and sad about Apple.

I expect it's quite possible that Steve himself would approve of not "wasting" money on NAB. But the other side of that coin is that their continuing absence is
engendering bad feelings toward the company that didn't exist before.



Great minds think alike - AJA comes out with their 4k, PL-mount CION (pronounced
scion) as in “scion of an old family”.

With a 4k APS-C sized CMOS global shutter sensor recording full 4k or UHD at 60p, as well as hardware-scaled 2k and 1080, to AJA’s SSD Pak storage units. These are available in 256GB or 512GB sizes, and as such the cost per GB will be considerably less, methinks, than the BM URSA. It is also more shoulder-friendly than the URSA, as it is about half the weight and size, and has a nice cushy leather pad built in.

It may be lighter, smaller and have less expensive media than the URSA, but it is slated to cost about 50% more - $9,000.

One of the nice features is a mechanical back focus adjustment which is accessed via a panel on top.

NAB Day 1 - Blackmagic URSA


Happened to walk right in the door by Blackmagic after reading Grant Petty’s email announcement of this year’s slew of schtuff. The green tints on the monitors in the first image is due to focus enhancement being on.

The URSA is a large, 15-lb. upgradeable body that comes in several lens mount flavors, sports a Super 35
global shutter 4k imager, a 10” side screen on the left side, and a 5” screen on the right side for setting, status and scopes. It will record Cinema DNG RAW and ProRes 4k to two CFast card slots, currently a spendy proposition, with cards like SanDisk’s 120GB CFast 2.0, which currently go for about $1,200 each. And 120GB doesn’t get you a whole lot of time at RAW or ProRes 4k rates.

It ships 4k 60p capable, but will be upgradeable to 120fps. The imager will be upgradeable as well. The first two units, the URSA EF and URSA PL (referring to their lens mount types) are slated to show “around July” for $5,995 and $6,495 respectively.

Pono Player

It is, at the very least, the winner for the most beautifully marketed personal music player in existence, and possibly the new template for Kickstarter campaigns. Doesn’t hurt the experience to have Neil Young invite you backstage into his custom Caddy to experience hi-res playback of classic rock and soul. The Pono Player (pono is Hawaiian for “righteous”) sure looks like a winner, at least going by the endorsements of both major rock stars and random teenagers.

As a gear slut from way back, I couldn't help but be swayed, and signed up as a Kickstarter sponsor in order to get a first-generation player, due to come out in October. Neil has been on this mission for quite a while now, and frankly it is great to see his vision of high-end music for the masses coming to fruition.

As such this ends up being a must see at this month’s Axpona show in Chicago.