Like I said last month, January promised to be a big one with CES, Macworld & NAMM all taking place within days (and several hundred miles) of each other. But in the event…or before the events, January came early with an announcement by Yamaha that they had bought Steinberg, the makers of Cubase & Nuendo. Until a couple of years ago, Steinberg were an independent company, but shortly after Apple acquired Emagic (the makers of Emagic Logic…aka Apple Logic) video software company Pinnacle snapped them up…and despite lots of talk, did very little with the company. Steinberg & Yamaha are both audio technology innovators so what happens next should be something worth watching…though let’s not forget what happened the last time the Germans and the Japanese formed a partnership…
Next came CES (The Consumer Electronics Show) at which Sony announced their first CMOS DV camera. CMOS ain’t new. In fact it’s pretty old, but then so are CCDs, which until fairly recently were used by everyone for capturing images digitally. That all changed when Foveon started making high end digital stills cameras with CMOS chips. Cannon followed suit with their SLRs, then the entire industry followed Cannon.
CMOS chips offer lots of benefits over CCDs. First off, unlike CCDs, which require additional chips to process the signals they output, CMOS chips are self contained doing all their image processing on board. Secondly, as a result, they are cheaper and easier to produce. Third, this means control over things like ISO which simply aren’t an option with CCDs. Fourth, unlike CCDs, they don’t suffer from vertical smear, which has always been a problem in video cameras and fifth, they crucially offer the ability to change between interlaced/progressive scan and to alter frame/field rates natively, potentially paving the way for affordable multi region variable frame rate progressive scan cameras…finally.
Sony will release the DCR-PC1000 in April and although it is a ‘handycam’ rather than a VX model, it is nevertheless a 3 chiper. Add to that Sony Japan’s announcement in late December that they would be would be investing 50 billion yen to build a new CMOS chip production facility and a report back in September 2004, on Japanese website Nikkei Electronics Online, that the (CMOS) sensor for Nikon’s high end D2X digital SLR is being manufactured by Sony and it seems inevitable that CMOS is the future direction of the video industry.
Hot on the tail of CES was Macworld, at which the big announcement was, of course, the Mac Mini. For $500 you get a little box 6.5” square & 2” tall that incorporates a G4 processor and CDRW/DVD drive. If it proves to be half as successful as the iPod…screw Bill Gates…and if not…screw Bill Gates…
Rounding off the month’s events was NAMM with mo software and hardware announcements including: Reason 3.0, an M Audio’s interface designed by Roger Linn, a soft synth version of Hartmann’s Neuron synthesiser, Wayoutware’s Arp 2600 soft synth emulation, Steinberg’s Groove Agent 2.0, the eagerly awaited Access Virus Ti, Korg’s brand new Krossfour VJ mixer…and their very old (ten years in the making) OASIS keyboard, a combined DJ & VJ audio/video mixer from Neumark, Ableton Live 4.0, Apple Garage Band 2.0 and the announcement of a partnership between Roland and Universal Audio, to bring classic Roland effects and modules to the UAD-1 platform.
Oh…and just one more thing…in between trade shows, Gemini announced a hybrid turntable/CD player…exactly what DJs have been praying for…now that’s what I call convergence.
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