It’s a city so nice that they named it twice; an inspiring meld of concrete and dreams, islands and roots, innovation and preservation all colliding in an overwhelming and stimulating way while somehow still providing small yet memorable moments of solitude and beauty.
So how else can one encapsulate the impossible nature of New York but in song. As Taylor Swift says, it’s a new soundtrack. The city, and its many tunes, provide a score to envelop and elevate the delights around every corner. It’s what music does; it sets the mood, both in real life and when we can, at photo shoots. Except this time, where we stand with a Fujifilm Ambassador, a group of fellow creatives, and a model, the only soundtrack is our sneakers on linoleum, and the distant constant lull of an escalator.
Greetings from the floor of NAB NYC, well actually, the hallway downstairs from the doors of the exhibit floor. At this show, the soundtrack is mostly conversations, but sometimes it includes the quiet click of a shutter or the microphone-powered conversations from the insight theater or the panel discussions at the Cine+Live Lab or a demo from a company. It never crescendos to the level of NAB Show Vegas, or even to the level of Times Square or the outside freneticism of 11th Avenue with the newness of Hudson Yards, but it is clear that NAB NYC provides opportunities for connection and a central locus for conversation.
So when we step outside the floor on a Fujifilm Photowalk, it is the opposite of what NAB Show is known for: crowds, announcements, swag, and fighting for floor space. Here, where we are learning and testing the Frame.io Camera to Cloud integration with models and light tubes, we are steps away from the Blackmagic booth, the candy bowls, the literature up for grabs, and the B&H shirts. But it may as well be miles, surrounded by the space frame architecture of Javitz, away from the discussions of AI and the current landscapes of streaming. But standing out (the free Fujifilm hats helped) and having more cameras in public is exactly what I have noticed about Fujifilm over the last few years, as has Victor Ha, Vice President of Electronic Imaging Division and Optical Devices Division, FUJIFILM North America Corporation. Two elements seem to be driving that increased number of cameras: film simulations and the camera to print pipeline: “We are seeing a growth in our brand. I think that our cameras are having a really great moment right now. We’ve got great products, great engineering, great ergonomics and design. And I think our tie-in to our film simulations is a really big key. And we’re one of the only companies in the world that has acquisition through to output. We own the entire pipeline. Being able to print something that we that we create in our cameras is really special.”
Certainly playing with the film simulations made for a fun NAB Show experience, though I am reminded by the passion of the Fujifilm ambassadors, and colleagues of mine that own a Fujifilm camera of the following: those who own Fujis, love them. “We have a very loyal community,” Ha confirms.
Our small walking community was able to send the JPEG images we shot directly into the cloud with a Frame.io Camera to Cloud set up, either utilizing the in-camera integration in the GFX100 II, or others like me using the the FT-XH file transmitter. And of course, as is weirdly the bane of our existence at a technical trade show where we talk about internet and streaming, a mobile internet pack is what allowed for that connection. Being as we had assigned a button for the transfer (mine was the ISO button) and our cameras were not set up to automatically upload to the Frame.io system, I tested whether Camera to Cloud would detect duplicates. I sent the same photograph multiple times, and when I logged into Frame.io later, I only had one file for each. So mission accomplished!Speaking of missions, our Fufjifilm photowalk ambassadors, themselves professional photographers with Fujifilm setups, advised us on the very delicate and creative practice of working with talent. “Building rapport” is essential, as is knowing “what you want;” essentially the ability to set expectations. The same might be said about NAB Show NYC: defining your goals helps to structure your time and set your expectations. Are you here to share your knowledge? Gather new knowledge? Utilize your knowledge to find your next position? Monitor your competition and hold your knowledge close to your chest (because in some cases, they really were set up across the aisle from one another)? Use shared knowledge to gather the best swag? Because in contrast to Vegas, New York gives you the ability to jump right in and make it happen. Sort of like the city itself. Except with more space than most Manhattan apartments offer.
But if you were in a tiny apartment, and needed to light it as best you could, Godox’s KNOWLED Flexible Bicolor LED Mat (F600Bi, F400Bi, and F200Bi), announced in June, could help you out. “You can fold the light pretty much in any direction,” shared Jameson Brooks, Ambassador for Godox. “If you’re in a tight apartment, and you want a 90 degree corner light, you can actually fold this in half.” In fact, he adds, you can even wrap it around a pillar. “It really enables a lot of creativity. You can fold the light pretty much in any direction,” Brooks shared.
The ideal goal, the one that drives us to trade shows and inspires us when we leave, is the ability to enable and foster creativity at every scale with high quality products. Whether be mobile production or studio focused or aerial shots or 3D renderings, the ability to expand our storytelling using the best-and-brightest-and-newest-and-maybe-also-the-lightest tools at our disposal is what keeps driving us, 12,000 of us to be exact, to shows like NAB NYC. Inspiration here, though, comes from alternative sources outside of the gear: seeing familiar faces, walking along the Highline, determining a new workflow, deciding on a new course to take, or managing our material differently. We somehow apply Nick Harauz’ philosophy and goal for his students in his Post Production World session towards everything we do: Walk away with something that inspires you. Maybe, as Harauz suggests, we find ways to slow down, even in the city that never sleeps (and you might find you’re king of the hill, or top of the heap).
Inspiration may come from the “firsts;” the first time something happens or something is debuted. 2023 NAB NYC was home to the first U.S. unveiling of Vū One studio, a portable virtual production studio with built in AI creation and more. The demonstration was powered by Puget Systems.
I stumbled upon another first, tucked in the back corner of the B&H booth, set up to capture a ballerina: the new Sony Burano, a powerhouse camera in a relatively small package. The Venice 2, on display across the way at AbelCine, felt monstrous in comparison. The camera has “all the things and then some,” as I put it. The Burano is the first PL-mount camera to offer in-body stabilization, which it features alongside a built-in variable ND filter, and more. It of course has a built in fan, although it did seem slightly warm to the touch, even though it was only set up to capture live at 24fps, and not something higher like 120fps, which can cause more heat. Ideally, I would have loved to put the Burano through a stress test, not unlike the HBO Camera Assessment Series (CAS), a screening of which alongside a workshop was presented at NAB NYC.
At its base level, the HBO CAS is a professional video shoot out at a massive scale. Utilizing cameras employed on recent HBO shows, the documentary-style project showcased skin tone tests, low light tests, fabric tests, and more with six different setups: ARRI Alexa Mini, ARRI Alexa 35, Sony Venice 2, RED V-Raptor, Kodak 5219 film, and somewhat surprisingly, the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 12K, which has used on HBO’s Our Flag Means Death (actually they used five) and for VFX plates on HBO’s The Gilded Age.
Suddenly, with the inclusion of a 12K camera that comes in at $4,999, we’re back to the magical inspiration+creativity equation from earlier; creating high quality media with the newest tools. We have the ability to dive into storytelling with unique products – now more than ever. And the HBO CAS helps bring that to light, and showcases their cameras so you can make the best choice for your production.
“At the end of the day, you need to tell a better story, but you don’t want to be held back by your camera,” Bob Caniglia, Director of Sales Operations, North America, at Blackmagic Design, shared in regards to Mini Pro 12K’s inclusion in the 2023 HBO CAS. “I think that our offerings prove that you can shoot what you want, and it’s up to you to tell the better story.”
The Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K, announced in September, was on display next to the URSA 12K at a wedding…well at least the scene of a wedding bar. And so let’s say you WERE to film at a wedding, and because the stakes are so high, you wanted to go to the cloud directly from your Blackmagic device….well… more options seem to be coming, specifically, using your phone as an internet hotspot to send material to the Blackmagic Cloud Service. “What we’re heading towards, and we kind of did a sneak preview with the Blackmagic camera app…where you can shoot and then send files directly from the phone to a Blackmagic Cloud account, we’re going to add that to other cameras,” Caniglia detailed. “You’re going to obtain internet access through a phone by tethering it to the cameras in the USB-C port.” This will come through a software update in the future.
And suddenly we feel like we are in the clouds, high above Manhattan. Because where else should one watch a screening of the HBO Camera Assessment series then Warner Brothers itself, located around the corner from Javitz and mere steps away from the futuristic New York City in Season 4 of HBO’s “Westworld.” It was a cushy seat in the sky.
Viewers of the HBO CAS were treated to an artistic interpretation of the theme to Succession six times. A mock recording session of the song was used for the skin tone test, providing yet another soundtrack to the New York experience.
New York, and all its many soundtracks, are a stress test itself, pushing us to define what the city means to us, and simultaneously what this trade show is to us. Registration on the NAB NYC site invited us back: Photographers + Independent Creatives, Welcome Home. In 2023, New York is about nostalgia and remembrance. It’s about that odd uncomfortable moment when you look up a favorite restaurant to see if it still exists. It’s reconnecting with people, or putting name-to-face of those you only knew before by email. And it begs the question about what we need from a trade show in a post-lockdown world. “You know you need unique New York” the tongue twister said (not a soundtrack, but close). And as you walk away, with B&H bag full of swag and brain carrying new songs, a pedicab slowly trudges by with “Empire State of Mind” echoing off buildings, slamming a final song into your NAB NYC playlist.
Because, as Alicia Keys’ reminds us: These lights may inspire you, too.