Tech shows are exciting aren’t they? We see them on the news, featuring the latest generation of AI robots, ultra lifelike holograms and wearable technology that will mean pesky things like thinking and remembering stuff will soon be a thing of the past. So when we sent New York Head of Post Production Guy Hixon to the recent NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters) at the Javits Center in, Manhattan, we were all excited to hear what piece of mind blowing tech had turned his head.
In years gone by he might have been able to enthrall us with tales of tapeless cameras, 360 filming or drones, and 2017 would be no different. Sorry, that should read, but no, 2017 would be different. In the absence of any huge new developments all that exciting tech we’ve seen in previous years has merely evolved. Sure it’s all better, smaller and faster, which is great…but there’s nothing that makes you say “I didn’t know they could even do that” or even better make you fear for the future of humanity.
In the absence of that sort of exciting advance you’d think Guy would have come back empty handed and rather glum, but that is to underestimate the true nerdy nature of Guy. Not only did he return clutching a bag filled with branded fidget spinners and USB sticks, but he was brimming with excitement about two things in particular – the new Canon C700 camera, and cloud storage. Not on the edge of your seat yet? You will be. Well, maybe.
First off the camera. Since the dawn of digital photography Canon have led the way in terms of affordable HD workhorses. The C300 is ubiquitous across the corporate film business, and it’s fair to say that the 5D (a DSLR camera that could shoot HD video) was fundamental in democratising high quality filmic video, giving many of us the first decent tool for the job we were lucky enough to own. The C700 is different though. It’s high end and has all the bells and whistles you could want and plenty you’ve never even thought of. If the C300 was a workhorse, the C700 is a racehorse. It’s a 4K cinema grade camera designed to compete with Hollywood favourites like the ARRI Alexa and RED and the footage it shoots is absolutely stunning. We want one. Of course we want one. The only problem is the price tag, so if you’ve got $28k lying around and you want to treat us for Christmas you know what to get.
Right, hang onto your hats, because now we’re getting into the really exciting stuff – storage.
Okay, so you might have detected a subtle hint of sarcasm there and in fairness data storage is hardly the most thrilling of subjects, but it is an incredibly important one. As camera technology advances we’re lucky to be able to shoot at higher and higher resolutions, and shooting at 4K has great advantages – incredible detail, stunning colours and a huge amount of visual real estate to play with in the edit, but it comes at a cost – and that is storage. These days an average project can take up to a terabyte (1,000GB) of space, and that doesn’t come cheap either financially or in terms of physical space. Naturally we like to archive our previous work, but we don’t want an office full of hard drives or tapes and traditionally having petabytes (1,000TB or 1,000,000GB) of offsite (or cloud) storage has been prohibitively expensive. The result of this has been a delicate, challenging and time consuming balancing act. But no more!
Thanks to the superfast internet speeds we can now access and a couple of companies Guy encountered at NAB our storage is all going to be taken care of via the cloud and without costing us an arm and a leg. As they’re about to start changing our world for the better, it only seems fair that we give them a bit of a shout out.
First of all there’s Archiware – their software turns the surprisingly complex and often time consuming business of archiving data into a straightforward automated dream. Then there’s storage providers BackBlaze who can backup our data for as little as 0.5¢ per GB per month – and you don’t need to be great at maths to recognise that that’s incredible value. That’s not to say the era of backing up to tape is over just yet, but our options are certainly growing.
All our media, safely tucked up at affordable prices, it’s a dream come true. It’s a functional and relatively dull dream, but still…