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Thursday, 09 June 2011 06:00

Cine Gear Expo 2011

Written by  James Thompson
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cinegear_sfwAs technology continues to transform the entertainment industry, Cine Gear Expo 2011 created the perfect setting to look into the future of content creation. Held at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, industry leaders offered their voices and equipment manufacturers showcased their wares to provide a complete education on the current state of the industry.

Featuring a Film Series and Competition Screenings followed by a 3D Symposium and a smorgasbord of equipment during the Expo, Cine Gear had it all — and there was a consistent flow of attendees to add to the event’s success. After receiving their credentials, attendees were guided though Stage 18 where they got their first look at some of today’s leading production equipment and technology. A walk through Stage 17 allowed filmmakers to pick up issues of P3 Update before they entered the lecture stage to attend the informative sessions offered by Hollywood’s leading organizations, including the Society of Camera Operators, International Cinematographers Guild (IATSE Local 600), IATSE Local 728 and Digital Cinema Society.

cinegear_collage_img_6373_sfwAdditional stops included the Paramount Theater, serving as a venue for a variety of manufacturer sessions to discuss techniques and screen footage, and the Sherry Lansing Theater where Kodak set up shop and invited accomplished cinematographers to give insights into their craft. The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) held a session titled “Dialogue with ASC Cinematographers” that was moderated by George Spiro Dibie, ASC and included a full panel of the world’s leading DPs. And at a private VIP reception, visionary Howard Preston was honored with the Cine Gear Expo 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award for his accomplishments with Preston Cinema Systems, a company that has provided the motion picture industry with innovative camera and lens-control systems for over 20 years.

Throughout the event, attendees often found themselves on the New York Street backlot where they received hands-on experience with a full line of equipment and production tools for creating content. And, on the show floor, many exhibiting companies and attendees seemed pleased with the amount of quality equipment on display and the introduction of new technology. “I think this is one of the best years ever,” said Cinematographer Steven Poster, ASC. “I’m encouraged to see this kind of participation in our business again.” Rigging Grip Dale Roberts couldn’t agree more. “I’m like a kid in a candy store,” said Roberts. “Everybody is going to have something to buy from here.”

Cinematographer and Radiant Images Co-Founder Michael Mansouri also had a positive experience. “Cine Gear is a really important event for us because it gives us a chance to meet and interact with the people who work with our equipment and share our knowledge and innovations with them in a venue that is so conducive to creative thinking,” said Mansouri. “We enjoyed the one-on-one interaction and the genuine interest from the many attendees who stopped by our booth to get a closer look at our custom rigs. It was also great to kind of
unveil our new name and logo.”

cinegear_hurlbut-visuals-booth_sfw“It really is a wonderful place to truly see everything [and] it’s a great educational tool,” said Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut, ASC. Hurlbut participated in two capacities, as a filmmaker eager to see new and exciting equipment and as the owner of Hurlbut Visuals, which had a booth to promote the company’s goal to “create, innovate and educate.” The event also served as a “coming-out party” for Hurlbut Visuals DSLR Cinema Rentals.

On Stage 18, the first booth attendees came in contact with was PRG. The company displayed new OHM high-output LED lights that are color turnable and ideal for lighting large areas requiring a large volume of ambient top light. The OHM (Overhead, Horizontal and Multipurpose) fixture weighs 65 pounds; doesn’t lose light when you change color temperature; and draws only 600 watts where other similar tungsten lights draw as much as 6000 watts. “This light not only replaces your spacelight, it replaces your Socapex cable, dimmer rack and generator,” said Paul Kobelja, motion picture account executive at PRG. “I can run three of these off a standard 20-amp circuit.”

cinegear_-chimera-led-lightbank_sfwBardwell & McAlister (B&M Lighting) went all out to introduce their new Mac Tech LED lights that were in development for three years and offer green lighting solutions. B&M Lighting took up a lot of square footage at Cine Gear to build three sets equipped with a full array of LED lights, including dimmable China Lights that come with a 120-watt China bulb equipped with six 2-foot tubes or 80 watts with four 2-foot tubes. Other showcased lights included the LED Sled (available in 720, 360, 180 or 72 watts) and the Slimline, which are five different lights (40 to 320 watts) that are ideal for on-location interviews. “It’s all LED and it’s all color corrected,” said B&M Lighting President Ray Wolffe. “It’s designed and built with production in mind.”

When German Cinematographer Stefan Karle was looking for on-location lighting solutions, he formed the company DoPchoice GmbH and developed the Snapgrid. This soft lighting grid will fit onto 4-foot-by-4-foot frost frames, Chimera softboxes and Kino Flo 4Banks. It can be set up in three easy steps in about one minute.

Chimera made an impression with its new line of Chimera LED Lightbanks that give off a beautiful soft light. They’re also lightweight, collapsible, easy to use and will last a long time. They were developed to help DPs and lighting directors get added value from their LED lights that are the next wave of lighting technology for the motion picture and broadcast industry.

Bender, Inc. introduced a new smaller and lighter LG100. This 100-amp GCFI comes in 120- volt and 208/240-volt models. The unit displays the current leakage that allows the user to see what connected device may be causing a problem. “All of our products, [from] 100 amps up to 3400 amps, are designed to meet the very latest in electrical safety codes that now includes the entertainment industry,” said Steve Brock, rental manager at Bender’s Entertainment Division North America. Its UL943 listing is “Class A” personnel protection insuring that no one can be seriously injured on set by an electrical shock.

cinegear_-snapgrid_sfwRadiant Images (formally HD Camera Rentals) promoted their new name and logo with large booth banners. The company featured hands- on access to the latest 2D and 3D cameras, rigs and gear. Cameras on display included the CP31 by 3D ONE, Sony F3, RED EPIC-M, ARRI ALEXA, Silicon Imaging SI-2K and IndieCam POV 3D. Also featured: SI-2K 2D and 3D custom rigs, an Element Technica 3D rig, P+S Technik Freestyle 3D rig and the HydroFlex underwater 3D setup. The company also featured aerial 3D shooting from SpaceCam and AirWorks RC mini helicopters that created quite a stir.

Many products at the event catered to the DSLR market. “Over the last few years people have been asking us for an entry-level option for the DSLR and camcorder market,” said Greg Salman of Polecam USA. So Polecam, a company known for high-end portable jibs, created a new Starter Pak with a wide head that has a payload capacity of 8 pounds. “We’ve broken out the system as a modular system,” Salman said. “You get a fully functional system for under $10,000. Just add a camera and tripod and you’ve got a jib that goes from 4 to 12 feet.” The Starter Pak is light and portable and a single person can rig and operate it with a rig time of less than 10 minutes.

Barber Tech showcased the Barber Boom Stealth TSR 16/20 with a RPT DV Head (which is good for cameras up to 10 pounds). Boasting that it can be set up in under 10 minutes, the company showed a video of a petite woman setting it up in 8 minutes, 20 seconds. Its arm weight is about 46 pounds (plus mounting yoke, remote pan/tilt head, head control, lens controls, dolly, monitor, cables, counter balance weights and more) while maximum height (in the over-slung mode) is 20 feet. Accessories include zoom/focus controls, monitors, rolling cases, weights and dollies.

cinegear_collage_img_6376_sfwThe big news over at the Sony booth was the F65 CineAlta camera to capture the look of 65mm film. The company’s goal is to acquire true 4K resolution and beyond at the point of image capture. Sony’s newly-developed 8K image sensor with over 20 megapixels offers high image fidelity, and its 16-bit Linear RAW output establishes a complete, end-to-end 4K mastering workflow. The 8K sensor currently delivers HD, 2K and true 4K resolution and beyond that as the demand grows.

The Motion Picture Marine team was on hand with a slightly modified “Perfect Horizon” camera stabilization system. According to Motion Picture Marine’s David Grober, the company has made the Perfect Horizon lighter. Now 29 pounds, it still fits in a pelican case that can be taken aboard airplanes as standard baggage. The company has also done a redesign of the electronics, significantly increasing the accuracy of the stabilization. As always, the Perfect Horizon runs on its own external 24-volt battery. Motion Picture Marine had a video of the Perfect Horizon in action on a land rover in rugged terrain in South Africa that made believers of the many attendees who witnessed the stable footage at Cine Gear.

Getting incredible aerial footage has never been easier with Flying-Cam. The company showcased the SARAH, a revolutionary electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Miniature Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS). Weighing 55 pounds, the Special Aerial Response Helicopter System’s features include an 11-pound payload and 30-minute flight time. “You have an autopilot on board,” said Flying-Cam President Emmanuel Previnaire. “This gives us one-inch precision of the system in the air.” It can be operated in fully automatic or manual mode and can be programmed and recorded to keep the exact flight settings. The Gyro Head is in the front end with communication to the board computer. The Gyro Head is also automatic, which means that, whatever the movement of the platform, the picture will stay stable in each axis.

Cinematographer John Sharaf was at the Telecast Fiber Systems booth demonstrating the ARRI ALEXA and Sony F3 Digital Cinema cameras configured with cine-style accessories, including ARRI MB28 matte boxes, FF4 followfocus units and Telecast’s latest Copperhead 3400 and Fiber buddy systems. These state-of-the- art cameras attracted visitors to the company’s booth and highlighted the benefits of Telecast’s line of on-camera fiber systems.

IDX promoted a new universal wireless audio adapter that requires no special tools, but allows extreme flexibility for wireless audio and the AJA Ki Pro Mini. Side or back mounting of the A-MWR Wireless Receiver Mounting Bracket allows users to power both the camera and AJA Ki Pro Mini. The plates have a 50-watt 2-pin D-tap connector as well as a V-Mount battery connection.

cinegear_-studio-vertical-sound-cart_sfwWhen traveling to distant locations to capture realism or take advantage of the incredible incentives, transporting production equipment has become a thriving business. Packair Airfreight is a transportation company that specializes in just that. “We’re a specialized company just for the movie industry,” said Luis Arroyo, export manager at Packair Airfreight. “We deal with transportation to wherever it’s needed internationally — by air, land or sea.”

In keeping with the “smaller, lighter and portable” theme of today’s motion-picture technology, Studio Carts introduced a new Vertical Sound Cart that’s lightweight, collapsible and will fit into the back of a station wagon. Studio Carts General Manager Alden Guzman said that “normally people want to add equipment,” which is why the company made the sound cart modular and customized. “You can build on the existing infrastructure,” Guzman noted. This makes the new cart perfect for on-location sound mixing.

Casey Krugman from PortaBrace, a company based in Vermont that specializes in cases for the film and video industry, was on hand with a full line of quality cases. He featured a few of today’s most sought-after cases made to support and protect all of the new technology that’s shaping the entertainment industry.These included several options for DSLRs, monitor and computer bags, and an Apple iPad case that’s ideal for on-location work.

As this year’s Cine Gear Expo surrounded attendees with an abundance of technological advances, acclaimed Cinematographer Dante Spinotti, ASC wanted to make sure that filmmakers remember that they’re artists first — and that equipment and technology are merely the tools used to create their art. “[Technology] is not to me what makes a cinematographer,” said Spinotti. “[Instead, we should] worry about culture and knowledge and aesthetics.”

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