As the year draws to a close and the Christmas party season takes its toll on our collective memory, we decided it was time to cast our minds back over the past year at the tech stories that defined 2013.
We thought about totting up column inches or seeing which new releases returned the most Google results, but in the end we decided to take an informal straw poll of the office and see what everyone remembered (it seemed like the most honest way). So, without further ado, here are the 13 stories that have been uppermost in the Jigsaw24 conscience in 2013, including 4K workflow miracles, Apple’s iPad Air and the cold wastes of outer space…
Avid qualifying Magma chassis for Pro Tools HDX
It took exactly two minutes for our audio department to volunteer the day Avid qualified Magma ExpressBox 3T and ExpressBox 7 for use with Pro Tools HDX as their highlight of the year. Granted, some older 3T models tended to melt HDX cards or explode unless they were given a fan upgrade, but the ability to turn a Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook Pro into a mobile recording setup is genuinely awesome, as anyone who’s ever tried to lug rackmounted gear out of their studio to do location sound will understand.
LunarSail crowdsourcing their way into space
Perhaps not something that will directly impact many of our regular readers, who according to Google Analytics are all fairly earthbound. However, this September LunarSail managed to persuade the good people of Kickstarter to give them $15,817 to put an amateur satellite into lunar orbit.
They’re doing this using a solar sail – essentially an ultra-thin mirror that uses solar pressure to propel a satellite along in the same way that a ship is blown along by the wind. That’s right: people gave money to Kickstarter, and as a result an actual satellite is going to orbit the actual moon that you can see from your window, powered entirely by invisible star-wind. We’re not making this up.
And why have LunarSail done this? To prove they can! And because it’s fun and exciting! And probably to exploit a commercial opportunity they’ve not really revealed and we don’t fully understand! The human spirit is awesome.
The C100 getting dual pixel autofocus
We’ve also sold a fair few Canon C100 cameras to all sorts of filmmakers and educational institutions, so by sheer dint of the number of people affected the raft of updates and discounts Canon have bestowed on the C100 this year should make the list. Chief among these is the update that brings dual pixel autofocus to the camera, giving it the kind of speed and accuracy you’d expect from a traditional DSLR like the Canon 70D.
No, it’s not groundbreaking news and no, it’s not put the fear of God into the government, but the gentle ripple of delight that went through our broadcast department when this was announced was probably one of the best office moments of the year. (One of. Nothing beats that time we let the dunces in marketing unbox a Pocket Cinema Camera.)
We’re not made of stone. Just because our office is stuffed to the gills with MacBook Airs and several of our staff are connected to one iOS device or another for roughly 17 hours of their day, doesn’t mean we aren’t collectively wetting ourselves with glee at the thought of being able to control most of our lives by blinking, and not in a tragic The Diving Bell and The Butterfly way.
Google Glass may cost an outlandish $1500, have a limited number of apps and mostly just make us wish we were skydiving, but we don’t care. It’s one of the releases of the year. (We also recommend this for anyone who’s had to deal with one too many rounds of Office updates recently, even if it is from 2012.)
Apple Maps finding its way
Let’s never speak of that first, somewhat embarrassing iteration again.
The rise of the smart watch
The fact that we’ve all stopped wearing watches since mobile phones became ubiquitous leant the rise of the smart watch a delicious irony that we’ve been quietly getting a kick out of for a while now.
But the overwhelming positive response to cross-platform wunderkind Pebble, the arrival of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and persistent rumours of an iWatch launch next October mean it’s official: the era of the smart watch is upon us. By this time next year I’ll be dictating this article into my timepiece, and you’ll be reading it off an e-paper display embedded in your forearm. Just embrace it.
3.5″ drives hitting 4TB
A watershed moment for anyone wanted to increase the density of their storage, 2013 was the year that 3.5″ drives hit 4TB and officially became a viable, affordable option for big data. A win for infrastructure geeks and creatives who want to be be able to see the desktop under their drives alike.
Valve Corporation continuing to conquer our hearts and minds
In a year where big games launches have been afflicted by irritatingly calculated controversy, compatibility fails, PR nightmares and assorted other meaningless faff, it was reassuring to discover that Valve Corporation would never let us down.
After defining our childhoods with Half-Life, making gamers of even our most sceptical friends with Portal and bringing us the wonder of the Steam platform, they chose 2013 to launch their own box, the Steam Machine, and its Steam Controller with no muss, no fuss and plenty of transparency. We may not be a games company. We may not be a gadget company. But we are a group of people who book holidays to coincide with major release dates, and we like to know that our precious days off won’t be wasted. We can only hope our televisions are worthy.
It may not be as flashy as Google Glass or have grabbed as many headlines as, say, the NSA leaks, but it’s fair to say that pretty much every creative with a computer was affected by Adobe’s decision to move from Creative Suite to Creative Cloud to some extent.
The decision to discontinue a piece of software that was a staple of many design, photography, imaging and videography workflows and replace it with a subscription-only SaaS package obviously angered a lot of users, but now that the initial rage has died down and we’ve had the chance to explore some of the new features (did someone say free CINEMA 4D plug-in?), we’re actually pretty happy about this. It’s flexible, it’s reliable and it makes our design team happy. Nice one, Adobe.
Apple’s latest crop of mobile devices
As massive Apple fans, we get a warm fuzzy feeling we get when we see the 2013 MacBook Air, iPad Air and the iPod touch with Retina display rocketing up everyone’s year end lists. The general ‘there’s never been a better time to buy a MacBook Air’ vibe makes us all warm and fuzzy inside, not least because proves that the era of the notebook isn’t over – as long as that notebook is ultra light, has a 12 hour battery life and syncs with your iPhone.
The Odyssey 7Q future proofing our 4K workflow (and changing how we purchase firmware forever)
Another one for the video crowd. Convergent Design’s Odyssey 7Q would probably have been on this list even if it was only a 7.7″ OLED monitor that could record, play back and perform HDMI-SDI conversion, but it also comes with a revolutionary new workflow that lets you rent support for codecs as an when you need it, rather than buying a firmware upgrade outright to support a codec you only need for a specific client or project. As we explained when Convergent Design first released the Odyssey 7Q:
“When you’re ready to move up to 2K, 4K, HFR or Canon, Sony or ARRI’s various RAW formats, you can simply buy a firmware update from Convergent Design to unlock the format you need. And if you’re only going to need it once, or only for a few days, you can save yourself a few pennies by renting it from them on a day-by-day basis, so you’re only ever paying for the option that you’re using. If you’re not going to need ultra high resolution just yet, you can still buy in recording options for 10-bit compressed 1080p YCC 4:2:2 at up to 120fps, 12-bit compressed 1080p RGB 4:4:4 at up to 60fps and uncompressed 10 or 12-bit 1080p RGB 4:4:4 at 60fps.”
If you’re shooting 4K RAW all the time, you can buy the 4K RAW firmware. If you’re using 4K RAW for the next six days and then avoiding it because you don’t have the capacity, then you can rent the firmware for six days then stop paying for it (you should also see our earlier point about 3.5″ drives). All of which makes the Odyssey 7Q a brilliant option for anyone who is in the halfway house between UHD and 4K.
Edward Snowden becoming an American hero/the Devil’s right hand, depending on your point of view
The definitive political tech story of the year (dare we say the decade so far?), Edward Snowden’s massive revelations about the NSA and GCHQ’s monitoring of, well, everything, is so far out of our remit that we almost feel silly commenting on it here. It’s not like the Jigsaw24 blog is synonymous with cogent political thought. But on the other hand, given that this is a story that affects everyone who’s ever been within three feet of a computer, there was no way we could really leave it out.
After three years of minimal updates, a ban from the EU and then months and months of silence, we were starting to think that maybe the new Mac Pro just wasn’t going to arrive. We worried. We fretted. We did things to an iMac that no iMac should suffer. But then our patience was rewarded. With six Thunderbolt 2 ports, 4 teraflops of computing power, dual GPUs as standard and support for a 4K display (we’ve got our eye on models from Sharp and Canon as perfect companions), the latest iteration of Mac Pro is the creative workstation we’ve been waiting for.
An honourable mention needs to go to PROMISE for being the first company to ship a Thunderbolt 2 storage device, the PROMISE Pegasus 2. Yes, there are loads more due to come in 2014, but credit to them for being first off them mark (and thanks to them for letting us have a demo model to take round with our Mac Pro).
Want to know more about the year’s best and brightest? Give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.