My last day at the show, Thursday, was more relaxed without back-to-back prearranged meetings, so I had a chance to wander round, seeing new products. Most impressive was the new video monitor from Barco. Although still in the design stage, the pictures were stunning. Both Barco and Sony have shown that LCDs can be used to assess picture quality without distortions added by the display. Although we may mourn the passing of the CRT, the reality is that the broadcast sector represents such a small proportion of display device that it is no longer economic to manufacture the tubes.
The Barco and Sony displays are not those you would buy in the local computer store. For a start they have a 10-bit drive, rather than the eight- or even six-bit displays in consumer gear. Without this, reproduction of blacks is poor, and certainly inadequate for grading. The other differences are LED backlights rather than cold cathode for controlled color gamuts, and 120Hz refresh to minimize the motion artefacts caused by the sample and hold of LCDs.
Apple and Avid did not have booths, but I had the opportunity for a briefing on Final Cut Server. Digital asset management has been a special interest to me since the turn of the century. Back then you needed deep pockets to set up a system, $5M was not uncommon for the software, servers and an enterprise database. Add to that the running costs, on-site database administrators, support licenses.
Apple's offering starts at a thousand bucks. OK it’s for 10 concurrent seats, but for a local station that is just what they need to manage P2 or XDCAM media. It will be interesting to watch the takeup of this product, and whether we will see competition. It’s long been my view that file-based production demands DAM, but for many it has been unaffordable. Such products make clear the advantages of file-based production over tape. It won’t be long before young folks entering the business will understand “tape” to be data tape, and videotape will join the audio cassette as a historical curiosity.