10 trends, tools, and tech updates you should know about

All of the leading vendors in all areas of digital creation have descended on Las Vegas to show their latest and greatest at NAB. Here are our picks of the trends, and new tech and software that is appearing around this huge show.

01. 4K with HDR is the new 1080p

Dell announced a new 27" 4K HDR monitor

While it has taken a while for many to see why they would need to jump to 4k resolution for production, the addition of HDR to many monitors, phones and TVs has made the benefits worthwhile. HDR has enabled many content creators to show colour in a way never previously thought possible for mainstream output. And with multiple HDR formats and monitors with 8K on the horizon, 4K and HDR are definitely the new ‘normal’.

02. VR is now a true output platform

VR has a whole pavilion dedicated to it at NAB

VR and AR still has an entire NAB pavilion dedicated to it, and clients are now expecting VR experiences to be part of an agency's offering. VR has become a major part of Android with certain handsets offering VR headsets, and the latest Windows 10 Creators Update comes with VR in its core. This, coupled with the recent Oculus Rift price drop, means the industry is now busy building out VR content.

AR is yet to become as big, but with Apple rumoured to be releasing an AR-equipped iPhone 8 later this year, we can expect it to start attracting more attention in coming months.

03. Adobe Creative Suite updates

Although it was announced before NAB, Adobe has released updates to its Creative Suite that make the most of 4K, HDR, VR and with Adobe Sensei – the other current hot AI. With this update, most of the love has gone to Adobe Premiere Pro, with a new ‘Essential Sound Panel’. 

Adobe Character Animator gets walk cycles as well, and After Effects will gain a Camera Shake Deblur. There are also updates to Illustrator and the much-anticipated Project Felix.

04. Autodesk updates creative software

Attendees were excited to learn Arnold 5 would be integrated into 3DS Max 2018

Autodesk has announced updates to its creative applications. Flame 2018 includes 16-bit floating point depth support for batch paint; Maya 2017 comes with new features, including a live link with Adobe After Effects; Arnold 5 is now integrated with the new 3DS Max 2018 as well as Maya; and there are speed improvements for Shotgun.

05. Foundry announces Elara and MODO 11

Foundry's cloud-based service Elara launches in the summer

Along with offering a sneak peek of NUKE 11, the main announcement from Foundry is Elara: a new, cloud-based service that allows artists to use a range of creative applications through a browser. It's not just for Foundry applications either – Houdini, V-Ray and Blender are available on Elara too. 

Just before NAB, Foundry also launched the latest release of MODO, with major new features including better support for OpenSubdiv 3 to enable faster deformations, as well as new selection methods in the Item List.

06. DaVinci Resolve 14

Facial tracking is one of the new features in Blackmagic’s DaVinci Resolve 14

Blackmagic Design has brought the latest version of the very popular NLE and grading tool DaVinci Resolve to NAB. Resolve remains free for HD, and the full version with collaboration tools has dropped in price by a third to $299 – a steal! We hope to see Blackmagic's Fusion drop in price as well. 

DaVinci Resolve 14 comes with Fairlight audio and face detection for colour tracking, as well as huge speed improvements, amongst many updates.

07. Corona Render 1.6 for 3DS Max

Corona Render gets big new improvements in version 1.6

Corona Render has been getting more and popular thanks to its low price and ease of use, and the team has just announced version 1.6 with features including a 200% speed boost for scenes lit predominantly with HDR. There's also a new stratified random sampler to help get rid of noise faster, and a reworked distributed rendering system.

08. Razer Hacker Development Kit 2

The HDK2 is designed to be taken apart

Even with the recent price cut on the Oculus Rift, VR headsets for development are still expensive, especially for many smaller outfits. Tackling this issue, Razer has finally released the Hacker Development Kit 2 for $399. And while it's not as full-featured as the Rift or HTC Vive (it comes with only one tracker, and no hand controllers), the viewing experience seems similar and it’s intended to be taken apart and modified as you see fit.

09. DJI Goggles

You can now fly drones with your head using DJI Goggles

This is probably my favourite announcement from NAB: DJI Goggles enable you to control your DJI drone through a FPV headset. The Goggles allow you to move the camera with your head as well as showing flight path data, and the screens are at a higher resolution than a typical VR headset. DJI Goggles are available for $449.

10. Avid Media Composer First

Avid Media Composer: First aims to introduce Avid’s workflow to new users for free

Avid’s Media Composer has always been seen as the the ‘premium’ choice amongst NLEs. With competitor action such as the previously mentioned DaVinci Resolve 14, Avid has wisely decided to announce Media Composer: First. When First is launched in the summer it will be free, and with a streamlined interface, this could be a great way of introducing new users to the Avid workflow, which is used in many feature and TV productions throughout the world.

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