NAB 2017 Preview: Blackmagic, Sony, Canon, Drones, VR, and More

nab-show-2017By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

With just over ten days to go before we all travel it to Sin City for NAB 2017, it’s time to take a peak over the horizon to speculate what may be coming at the annual professional film and TV confab. What can we expect? What are we going to miss? What will be the biggest surprises? Let’s dish.

First thing we know for sure is that RED will not be in Las Vegas this year, having announced last summer that they will be skipping the confab in favor of exclusively appearing at Cine Gear in Hollywood. This makes a ton of sense considering that RED’s headquarters are in Redondo Beach, just down the road, and it’s far easier (and cheaper) to set up your booth at Paramount than at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The latter (Cine Gear) is a bigger fish in a small pond, while the former (NAB) is simply a fish amongst many in a much larger lake.

But that doesn’t mean that RED won’t drop some announcement in order to get us focusing on them, but if they’re going to do anything announcement wise, I rather think they’ll save it for this summer. Besides, they’ve already announced IPP2 last week, and on Facebook, RED Fire Chief Jarred Land has previewed a new firmware upgrade coming.

ursaminiproBlackmagic: With RED gone, BMD will have much more breathing space, as they are usually neighbors at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Blackmagic traditionally has a presser first thing on day one and this year is no different. However CEO Grant Petty has already announced a few new things, including upgrades with the URSA Mini Pro, some slick color grading panels for DaVinci, and new live streaming options. So, it’s anyone’s guess what this year has in store. I’m still holding out for a 4K Pocket Cinema Camera, and who knows, maybe we’ll get an 8K Cinema Camera upgrade. Only time will tell.

There is talk that Sony is planning to announced a full-frame, e-mount mirrorless camera this year. Since Panasonic has already released the GH5, all eyes are on Sony to see if the long rumored α7III or the α9 is unveiled, which speculation has said will have a massive 70 megapixel sensor. I’m not buying that one, the α9 / 70 mp sensor rumor. But we are waiting for the α7III, and Sony has the first press event of NAB on Sunday April 23rd. So we’ll see what they reveal.

Canon heavy lift droneCanon rumors point to C-Log coming to the Canon 5D MK. IV, and we may actually get to see their PD6E2000 heavy lift drone, which comes with the 4K Canon M20F-SH camera for low light recording. Though designed to be for mostly search and rescue applications, I would be surprised if Lake Success opted not to test the waters to see how the professional market will react to it.

sigma-cine-lens-red-dragon-18-35mm-zoom

Sigma’s Cine Lens, 18-35mm zoom on a RED DRAGON

Lenses: Sigma is already getting ahead of the NAB News Cycle by announcing a series of ultra high definition digital cinema camera lenses, The High Speed Super 35 Zoom Line includes an 18-35mm T2 and 50-100mm T2; and an FF Zoom Lens: 24-35mm T2.2. Sigma is also featuring the High Speed Prime line: 20mm T1.5, 24mm T1.5, 35mm T1.5, 50mm T1.5 and the 85mm T1.5. The lenses come in E, EF, and PL mounts (except for the 24-35mm) and I’m guessing that they had the RED Helium in mind when they designed them, as they are “optimized to shoot 4K and higher, to make them virtually “future-proof.”

Fuji announced their MK Series of E-mount lenses a few months back, and it’s likely that they will add to it with a pair of new 4K zoom lenses with high resolution, contrast and dynamic range optimized glass, designed chiefly for broadcast cameras and ENG work. And with both Fuji and Sigma coming out with eMount lenses, I can’t help but wonder if that Sony α7III will be the next big thing.

Lastly, we’re expecting drones and virtual reality to have a huge presence, even with their own pavilions, though I’ve heard no real rumblings of any huge new announcements from the usual suspects. One thing we may hear about is the colliding of both worlds with a new Live Stream VR Drone from 360 Designs. The drone will stream in 6K from up to 20 miles away. Should be an interesting demo.

Is this the DJI Spark / Mavic Mini? (Image Credit - DroningOn)

Is this the DJI Spark / Mavic Mini? (Image Credit – DroningOn)

DJI has had some murmurs of the Phantom 5 and Spark (essentially a Mavic Mini), which could hit the floor, and there’s talk that a new feature will be a ‘throw in the air’ activation feature for selfies. And since they are just coming off their annual Chinese New Year sabbatical, you can bet that they’re bound to get our attention with something. And who knows, it may be a new Hasselblad camera array.

Lastly, NASA is poised to do a live stream at Super Sessions in 4K from the International Space Station at NAB this year. I’m guessing they’ll be shooting with the RED or ARRI cameras they have on board’ and will be beaming the live video images straight to the convention, where projection company Christie will be projecting them on multiple screens. It’s bound to be the highlight of the week.

nabshowbuzz2017The unknown: There’s always something I don’t expect that catches my eye at NAB, so I’ll have to say that with the hundreds of companies showing off their wares, there’s bound to be something that’s really going to impress. But the question is, what will it be?

I’ll be walking the floor, putting the traditional 25 miles on my shoes, to keep you up-to-date on the usual suspects and all the surprises. I’ll also be guesting every afternoon on the NAB Edition of Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan. You can check out the entire guest lineup at NABShowbuzz.com. So tune in to our live stream for all the latest!

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.