NAB: Avid, Dolby Team to Drive Atmos Mixing

With the NAB exhibition floor set to open on Monday, manufacturers such as ARRI also revealed plans.
Robb Cohen Photography and Video

The annual National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference began Saturday, and while the exhibition floor doesn’t open until Monday, manufacturer news is already pouring in.

The April NAB has traditionally been the time of year when broadcast and production technology developers make their biggest announcements, as the show is expected to attract 100,000 to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Making it easier for rerecording mixers to create Dolby Atmos immersive sound is the goal of a highlighted collaboration between Avid, the maker of the widely used Avid Pro Tools audio postproduction system, and Dolby.

Announced Saturday at NAB, the companies are working on a soon-to-be-released next version of Pro Tools that will offer new native Atmos mixing capabilities for the multichannel and object-based audio format. Dolby is bullish on its format; upcoming Atmos releases include Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Alien: Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and War of the Planet of the Apes.

For Avid, its cloud strategy is also a big part of its NAB talking points, having formed a strategic alliance with Microsoft to develop cloud-based apps for the media and entertainment industry. Per the agreement, Avid also chose Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud hosting platform for its Avid Media Central (Pro Tools, Media Composer) platform.

Among the technologies that should attract attention from cinematographers, camera maker ARRI will be showing an upgrade to its widely used Alexa SXT camera (best picture Oscar winner Moonlight)  that will allow cinematographers to go wireless. To make working on set more efficient, ARRI has integrated a HD video transmitter and a Wi-Fi radio into the new Alexa SXT W model ("W" for wireless), which will replace the Alexa SXT Plus and Alexa SXT Studio models (upgrade options are available).

According to ARRI: “Having a video transmitter built into the Alexa SXT W makes the camera smaller and lighter than it would be with an external transmitter, and avoids the associated cable problems. Camera setup will be quicker and productions will be able to move faster, freed of the necessity to route video cables. In addition, the integrated Wi-Fi radio opens a whole range of options, starting with wireless color management on set and continuing with wireless camera remote control with the Alexa Web Remote.”

To address demand for high dynamic range (HDR) monitoring options, Australian tech developer Atomos unwrapped a 19-inch HDR (1200 nits) production monitor that it said could also support 4K 12-bit raw and 10-bit Pro Res/DNXHD recording, and 1080p HD live switching and recording. Dubbed Sumo, it lists for $2,495.

Exhibitors including Sony, Panasonic and SAM are set to reveal their plans at Sunday press conferences.

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