Another April, another NAB. Things got off to a wet cold start as the wind and rain ripped through monday morning set up. Nothing like seeing crazed exhibitors try to get last minute gear into the convention center and out of the rain. Blow dryers were in short supply while exhibitors attempted to dry out wet logic boards.
Last year it was 4k, 3D, cloud and thunderbolt. 2013, all the talk is about 4k workflow and the range of products available is phenominal. Looks like 4k is taking off in the way 3D didn't. All the arguments from last year still hold true. 4k is too expensive now and it's not really going to be viable till next year. Why shoot 4k when it all ends up on my ipad in the end. 4k image looks great but I can get a better looking picture shooting 2k at a higher frame rate. All true statements but it doesn't change the fact that a big transition is in store for business models across the board.
If your looking to build, expand or upgrade to 4k workflow, where do you start. Well let's start with a good work station. There are several options available. The mac pro is at the bottom of the food chain with supermicro workstations and the HP Z-series blowing the doors off apple in terms of processor speeds and PCI slots. Once you pick a work station with a fast processor and a bunch of ram - now you need fill it. You will need quite a few graphics cards depending on your workflow. Nvidia quadro is the choice for any 4k workflow. Usually starting with 1 and going up to about 4. If you go with 4 or more you will need an expansion chasis, Qubix had some new ones on display at a decent price. If you are working with RED footage then it's always nice to add in some Red Rocket cards. Now you have your workstation and your graphics cards it's time to look at a capture card. Last year at this time your choices were slim. Now everyone has a 4k card. The AJA kona 3g is always top on my list but if you are putting in a DaVinci system then you will want to go with a Black Magic Design 4K card. Next up is storage. This is were things get pricey. 8gig fiber storage is best, but there are other options like 10gig and 40gig ethernet as well as 6gig SAS. Choices will depend on your budget but there are a few reasonably priced options if you are doing a sigle workstation with direct storage and don't need a SAN. Sans Digital has a 32 TB raid for under 15k and sonnet tech can put you in a 32 TB 8g fiber raid for around 20k. Now that we have a system we will need to figure out what software we are using. Apple and Avid are still top choices for editing with the new kids on the block being Adobe. AJA wasn't too happy about being left out of the DaVinci workflow but not too worry, AJA has several cards that will work with the Adobe options and Adobe now has speed grade as part of its solutions to give you a full 4k workflow from edit to color to sound. If you are doing color correction and need a control surface there are several options. DaVinci and Pablo surfaces can range in the 30k area. That is a bit high so for smaller budget there is the Avid artist series and tangent devices.element both starting at under 2k. And finally no system is complete without a monitor. I looked at the TV Logic 4k monitor and was impressed with the new glass. Sony unveiled a 30 and 56 inch OLED professional grade monitor. Of course this one is only a prototype with a release date next year but it was nice to look at.
All in all you can put together a 4k workstation with storage and control surface for under 25K . Still a bit pricey but not so high that you have to mortgage your house. Then add in a projector or monitor and if you have some deep pockets get a nice control surface. So buy in now or start saving cause it looks like 4k will be around for a few more years. Hopefully long enough to recoop the money it will cost to build the system.