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Wednesday, 05 June 2013 22:52

Cine Gear Expo 2013

Written by  Gordon Meyer and James Thompson
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CineGear SmThe Studios at Paramount recently hosted Cine Gear Expo 2013, where content creators interested in advancing their craft enjoyed three days of conferences and two days of hands on experience with production gear. The event was also an exceptional opportunity for attendees to network while learning about the products and techniques paving the way to the next wave of production. 

While the 2012 Expo focused more on the introduction of 4K acquisition, this year’s event explored digital workflow and working with 3rd-party manufacturers. “It’s about understanding what camera does what and what do we need to do to make it work more efficiently,” says Tim Smith of Canon USA. “We’re continually learning and were trying to get that learning curve out to the users.” Canon, Sony, ARRI and other companies servicing the entertainment industry hosted panel discussions to address the digital movement, and members of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) were on hand to discuss their craft. Fotokem held an interesting panel exploring collaborations from production through post, with Cinematographers, John Bailey, ASC (The Way, Way Back) and Peter Levy, ASC, ACS (“House of Lies”) discussing how they master and control technology and image creation. 

Live events for 2013 also included a panel on digital field recording options hosted by the Digital Cinema Society (DCS) and moderated by its President/Co-Founder James Mathers. The International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 presented a panel on precise color management through on-set communications. Moderated by Steven Poster, ASC, this panel featured DPs and digital imaging technicians. And the ASC hosted a panel with 11 DPs discussing the artistic nature of cinematography. Moderated by George Spiro Dibie, ASC, the panel included Academy Award-winner Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC. “I can suggest to anyone [that] if you want to be a good cinematographer, [you must] study lighting,” said the legendary DP. “Study good movies [where] the lighting is good.” At a special VIP Reception, three-time Oscar-winner Haskell Wexler, ASC received the Cinematography Lifetime Achievement Award for his significant contributions to advancing the art and craft of cinematography. And Cooke Optics was honored with the Cine Gear Expo 2013 Technical Lifetime Achievement Award, which was accepted by Cooke Chairman/Owner Les Zellan. 

‎The Expo also offered Premiere and Master Class Seminars, Film Series Competition and Finalist Screenings, and an exhibit area packed with new products and announcements and demonstrations of the equipment changing the way visual and audio content is being captured. Major manufacturers catering to the Hollywood production community showcased the very latest cameras, lighting and grip products. LED lighting was prominently featured by over a dozen companies, including MacTech LED, Kino Flo and Hexolux, with several companies showcasing energy-efficient Fresnel lighting that stays cool to the touch. Today’s LED technology is so advanced that many vendors now offer lights that can simulate daylight and tungsten at a fraction of the energy costs. 

For this year’s camera vendors, 4K is still a major theme. FOR-A showcased the FT-ONE as “the world’s first high-speed camera designed for super slow-motion acquisition at 4K resolution.” The FT-ONE is capable of shooting at up to 900 fps in 4K resolution, recording on up to dual 2TB SSD cartridges and yielding up to 84 seconds of RAW footage at 900 fps. AbelCine showed off a prototype of the new Phantom Flex4K during a special presentation. With an even faster top speed of 1,000 fps with 4K capture, the Phantom Flex4K won’t ship until sometime this fall. And JVC brought out the GY-HMQ10, a new compact, handheld 4K camera that records at 50 or 60 fps and features an F2.8, 6.7–67mm zoom lens. With a street price of around $5,500, the GY-HMQ10 prosumer camcorder weighs less than four pounds and includes a battery, optional microphone and SDHC cards.

ARRI and Sony both showcased flagship digital cinema cameras. Designed for 4K capture, the ARRI ALEXA has been used on Oscar-winning movies like Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall. Also designed for 4K, the much newer Sony F65 made its feature film debut with the sci-fi adventure After Earth. Sony hosted a special screening of After Earth at the Paramount Theater preceded by a pre-recorded interview of Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, ASC. The Sony cameras used on After Earth were the very first F65s off the line, and Sony executives proudly boasted how well they performed under extreme conditions while on location in Costa Rica and other parts of the world.

Miniature HD cameras were also prominent at Cine Gear 2013. Sony, Radiant Images and GoPro all offered palm-sized cameras that are about one-third the size of most cell phones. And Samy’s Camera and Empire Hobby offered specially equipped, radio-controlled helicopters with mounts for miniature cameras. Video transmitters can also be attached to these flying cameras so DPs can capture live feeds.

Despite the entertainment industry’s affinity for digital content, this year’s Expo proved that film isn’t going away quietly. While most camera manufacturers and rental houses exclusively showcased digital gear, Old School Cameras boldly showed off part of its fleet of 35mm cameras, pointing out that there’s still plenty of life left in analog technology. Eastman Kodak, Fujifilm and FotoKem all underscored that point with presentations extolling the ongoing advantages of using film to capture great images. Kodak went a step further with “Film. No Compromise.” The free promotional packet spells out the specific economic and creative advantages of shooting on film, including Super 16mm and 35mm cameras modified to shoot two- or three-perf frames, to render considerable savings on film stock and processing.

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