The NAB conference in Las Vegas is where hardware and software companies producing tools for the video and animation industries show off their new kit for editors, artists and animators.
Whether you're producing content for feature films, TV, the web or corporate videos – here are the key stories from the NAB 2016 show.
NVidia Quadro M2000
Nvidia's latest workstation-class graphics card is an entry-level, compact board. The Quadro M2000 has 768 CUDA cores, 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, PCIe 3 support, a 128-bit memory interface and a memory bandwidth of 106GBps.
The M2000 replaces the K2200, which was based on the older Keplar platform (the M2000 is based on the Maxwell platform). That has 640 cores, an 80GBps memory bandwidth, and connected over PCIe 2.0.
The Quadro M2000 can drive four 4K displays over DisplayPort.
LaCie 12big Thunderbolt 3
Looking more like a high-rise tower block than a storage device, LaCie's latest desktop storage box is designed to make the most of the speed of Thunderbolt 3 connections, while maintaining the reliability of RAID redundancy. The 12big Thunderbolt 3 can hold 12 drives for a total capacity of up to 96TB (in a RAID configuration).
The drive can let your video applications read files at up to 2,600MBps using RAID 6, or 2,400MBps when the drives are configured using RAID 5. And there's enough spare bandwidth on the Thunderbolt 3 connection to allow you to daisy chain two 4K monitors (or a single 5K one) as well
LaCie says that the 12big Thunderbolt 3 can run 24/7 and comes with a five-year warranty. It'll will ship this summer in 48TB, 72TB and 96TB versions.
The Foundry Nuke 10 and Cara VR
The latest version of industry-standard VFX software Nuke has a focus on making working in the application easier day-to-day.
The Foundry says that the three versions of the tool – Nuke, Nuke X and Nuke Studio – are all faster and more stable than before. There are performance boosts to nodes including Roto Paint and Vector Blur (above), as well as making adjustments to the timeline and transcoding footage – plus support for multiple Nvidia graphics cards (in the nodes that are GPU-accelerated).
Nuke X and Studio also gain Smart Vector tools for clean-up and replacement work. The Foundry says that the tools "generate high-quality motion vectors from image sequences and use them to automatically push or warp paint or textures across a range of frames."
Nuke Studio gains new Soft Effects for use when editing on the timeline, including real-time chroma-keying and colour correction (below).
Updates are due "in the coming weeks", says The Foundry.
The Foundry has also launched a beta version of Cara VR, a new plug in for Nuke for working with 360-degree video. The plugin offers stitching tools for bringing shots from multiple cameras together, removal tools for rigs and other production elements that shouldn't be in the final shot, and the ability to 'playback' footage using an Oculus Rift.
Autodesk Maya 2016, 3ds Max 2017 and Flame 2017
Autodesk has unveiled the 2017 versions of 3ds Max and Flame - though only a Service Pack update for Maya 2016. This includes new motion graphics tools (above), a 'quick rig' tool for faster rigging (below), and improved render management.
Flame 2017 includes Camera FX tools for 3D compositing, colour grading from Autodesk's Lustre tool and better colour management. 3ds Max 2017 gains an updated interface that supports hiDPI screens, the Autodesk Raytracer Renderer physical-based rendering engine, a new asset library and more.
All three updates are available today.
Google's Zync Render platform has announced better integration with Maya 2016. The platform lets you render scenes on cloud-based servers instead of on your own servers or your computer - whether so a freelancer can use their computer to keep on working or some an animation studio can increase capacity when their own servers are working flat out. You can render using Arnold, V-Ray or, now, Renderman.
A new plugin for Maya 2016 connects to a version of Maya running in the cloud, which Google says makes uploading up to 10x faster. More info
Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects CC 2016
In the next few months, Adobe is going to release updates to the video editing and effects tools within Creative Cloud: Premiere Pro, After Effects, Character Animator and Audition. There are new colour tools across AE and Premiere – plus After Effects gets a massive performance boost and a improved Cinema 4D workflow.
This was announced last week, but Adobe is showing off the features at NAB 2016. See: Adobe reveals 2016 updates to After Effects, Premiere Pro, Character Animator & Audition.
Mettle VR plugins for Premiere Pro
Mettle specialises in Premiere Pro and After Effects plugins for editing and compositing 360-degree video for VR output (as well as 360 video on Facebook and YouTube). The new Skybox 360/VR Transitions let you cut between scenes in different ways from a standard fade to black or jarring jump cut.
Transitions include an Image-Based 360 Gradient Wipe, 360 Random Blocks, and 360 Iris Wipe - proving you can be just as cheesy in VR as in editing flat footage (what do 360 Barn Doors). 360 Mobius looks more useful. It lets you 'take over' the viewer's 'movement' and pull them from one space to another.
Iray for Cinema 4D
Previously available for just Maya and 3ds Max, Nvidia’s Iray physically-based rendering technology is being offered to Cinema 4D users for this first time.
The plug-ins allow you to see – and interact with – highly accurate versions of your scenes in application's viewports, as well as render final output. The plug-ins tap into the company's graphics cards to deliver a very high-level of performance – both Nvidia Quadro boards on your computer or the company's Quadro VCA boxes that live on your network.
HP Z1 G3
Smaller than its predecessor - it's based around a 24-inch screen rather than a 27-inch one - the third-generation all-in-one workstation boasts Skylake processors, up to 64GB of RAM, a new Nvidia graphics chip and fast storage. See: HP’s iMac-rival – the HP Z1 – is now smaller, cheaper & more powerful
Lytro Cinema Camera
Following the launch of the Immerge VR camera in November – which is still a prototype – Lytro has launched the Lytro Cinema system. This lets filmmakers capture footage with the 'light field' information for each pixel. De-jargoned, this means that you know how far each pixel is away from the camera – called Z-depth – as well as its colour and brightness.
The simplest use for this would be to remove the need for shooting against a greenscreen to capture actors, props and scenery to be keyed and composited with CG and other footage later. With footage from the Lytro Cinema camera, you just select the pixels with a certain distance from the camera and, voila, an instant perfect key.