What was the difference between this year’s Cine Gear Expo and last? About 40-degrees. It’s hard to believe that one year ago at this very event, I was stumbling on cobblestone in a western ghost town-turned sauna in a heat-provoked daze in search of water and Studio Air Conditioning’s booth. This year, I walked on a New York Street in the backlot of Paramount Studios, Hollywood and gazed at the cheerful exhibitors while a cool breeze blew through my hair.
“We came back to our roots,” Cine Gear Expo President Karl Kresser rejoiced. “That’s where we started 13 years ago.” I can see why. Exhibits, seminars and events were conveniently held in the backlot, theatres and stages. “Everything was walking distance,” added Kresser. “The theatres were right next to the event site, so quite often, we had three seminars going on.”
The hard-to-miss Camera Copters exhibited one of their three owned and operated Hughs/MD-500 helicopters, which they prefer because of the high reliability- and power-to-weight ratio, the ability to maneuver in tight spaces and the five-blade articulated rotor system is much smoother than helicopters with two or three blades. The company boasts of a qualified aerial coordinator on staff with numerous credits and their all-inclusive aerial production packages that can be used for features, television and commercials. The company offers helicopters, camera mounts and camera systems, which includes the Cineflex HD, the Pictorvision (formerly known as WESCAM) 35 mm gyro stabilizer and the Tyler Middle Mount II. For transportation of full aerial production units — including the chopper — Camera Copters offer two custom-built Nascar-style 18-wheelers.
Account Executive for Production Resource Group (PRG ) Motion Pictures Paul Kobelja extensively reviewed Gekko Technology’s ringlights: the Kisslite, Lenslite and George, which work as great beauty lights because they eliminate wrinkles, eye shadows and hat shadows. These LED-based lights are dimmable, flicker-free and can run off of the camera’s battery.
Kobelja also introduced Gekko’s kedo, the world’s first fully color-adjustable and focusable single-source, multi-color light. “We believe that the kleer color™ LED engine that is the basis of the Kedo lighting system is the next evolutionary step towards the emergence of universally-acceptable LED lighting for the entertainment industry,” Kobelja said.
PRG System Engineer Bill Daly demonstrated the iZotobe ANR-B Adaptive Realtime Noise Reduction unit. “Oftentimes when on location, your talent is in front of a significant background, [such as a] waterfall, airport, [or] train. When trying to get dialogue, you end up EQ’ing severely to eliminate as much background noise as possible,” Daly explained. “With the ANR-B you simply ‘train’ the device — with regard to the noise — and the incrementor becomes — in effect — a volume control for you to eliminate or add back small amounts of the background to create context with no corruption of the dialogue.”
I saw a lot of made-for-RED and 3-D-inspired equipment this year. As I made my way over to the indoor booths, I was drawn to the 3-D contraptions then escorted by a representative of the Paradise FX team — who shared booths with MK-V — so I immediately threw on the stylish 3-D glasses for a full-on, three-dimensional tour. I got to play with the RED 3-D camera system and the 2K Silicon Imaging 3-D outfit that was used in My Bloody Valentine.
Right across the way was the Panasonic booth offering attendees hands-on demos on a variety of cameras, including the VariCam, which was being offered at a 50-percent discount by Panasonic representatives.
Over at Zylight’s booth, representatives proudly showed off their new IS3, the first panel-type studio light in a series of lights available this summer. They explained that it is four-times brighter than other LED fixtures in its class and combines Zylight’s unique color-mixing technology and high-quality construction to meet the demands of professionals working on location and in studios, who require an extremely bright and wide soft source. Zylight offers lighting technology that is fully-dimmable with no color shift, adjustable color temperature, color-correction, unlimited color control, integrated ZyLink wireless control and rugged construction for years of reliable service. All functionality of the Zylight IS3 can be controlled with DMX through industry standard XLR connectors or remotely by the built-in ZyLink wireless link. A USB port is included for field upgrades and the built-in carry handle and shock absorption ensures rock-solid portability.
Packair, a top airfreight company, specializes in supporting the entertainment industry’s specific and unique equipment transporting needs. In January, the Transportation Security Administration designated Packair as a Certified Cargo Screening Facility, recognizing the company’s seamless service for valued clients. Kathleen Tipton, a Packair airfreight and customs brokers, attributes the quality of Packair’s service to their training and experience. “Having people in-house with the training and experience to handle just about any situation is crucial when working with the entertainment industry,” Tipton affirmed. “Whether it’s a Libra Head mount or a Black Hawk helicopter, our people have done it; we know how to pack it, crate it and ship it to locations and handle any special clearances that might be required.”
Back outside, Element Technica representatives were introducing the V-DOCK, a new professional mounting system designed to replace the messy and insecure practice of using velcro-type material to attach camera accessories. VDOCK can be a good solution for working with popular digital cameras, including the RED.
The company’s 3-D division, Technica 3-D, debuted a stereo camera platform for full-size digital cameras. “[The] system can be configured as either a beam splitter or side-by-side system to cover inter-axial distances from 0- to 12-[inches] and all types of photography from a wide lens — with a nearby subject — to telephoto shots of a distant subject,” described Co-founder Stephen Pizzo. “Both configurations can utilize our own integrated motors and controller or the popular Preston FI&Z for stereo and lens control.” Pizzo explained that despite the system’s light-weight, its rigid design ensures precise alignment, regardless of shooting conditions. He said that the system will initially be available as a rental item and will soon be followed by a medium-size for cameras, such as the Sony 1500 or RED’s new Epic with a full-size zoom lens, as well as a subminiature version for tiny cameras like the SI-2K and the Iconix with C-Mount primes. All three systems share the same user interface and the same ease of use.
Our next door booth neighbors, the CINEPED team, were flagging me down to check out their “hot-off-the-assembly line” panoramic 360-degree camera support system that they were unveiling at the show. A RED camera was perched on CINEPED’s 42-inch 360- degree rotational sliding camera plate, extendable automatic positioning telescopic column, digital remote-control and a diamond-style mobile base with heavy-duty rubber wheels. The camera support system was designed for a wealth of camera angles and is ideal for smooth transitions, extreme close-ups and POV shots. “The show was very good,” said Sales Manager Don Houston. “We’re getting a lot of exposure. Attendees were very impressed with the product and we’re getting great response for upcoming productions.” DP Bobby Mansouri, who gave us an extended demonstration of the apparatus, says that this dolly-slider-pedestal works wonders for commercials that require a focused shot of a product with a soft moving out-of-focus backdrop. He demonstrated with a bottled beverage, which was quite impressive. He also points out that the CINEPED can reduce postproduction costs by avoiding green screen shooting. When equipped with receptor accessories, the CINEPED can be positioned on stairs and balconies.
LEX displayed its new 6KW, 12KW and 24KW Portable Dimmers, its 19-inch Rolling Rack, and its 400-amp Film Combination Box, all geared for feature film or television use. Western Territory Manager Bob Ferra explained how the portable 400- amp Film Combination Box services four power requirements. He added that a few of these boxes could handle a stage’s power outlet needs.
Panavision debuted the Louma 2, a 32- foot telescopic crane, and new colors for Lee Filters’ 700 series were displayed.
LibertyPak has become an industry leader in providing battery technology for filmmakers with battery belts, on-boards and custom packs that are being used on the most popular shows, such as “30 Rock,” “The Tonight Show,” “Oprah” and the NBC News. The Little Genny, a solar rechargeable portable power supply that will run any 115 VAC device up to 600-watts. According to a company spokesperson, it was the power supply of choice used by Sports Illustrated to shoot the March 2009 Swimsuit edition on location in Turkey.
The company exhibited fast charging packs for digital technology and LED lighting and provides high-density battery belts and packs for the RED ONE Camera Systems. You can also turn your LibertyPak into a free power generator with one of their new Solar Charging Stations that provides electricity — day or night — as long as there is some sun to store up some power.
Sachtler displayed several new products, including the Reporter 8LEDim, a new on-camera LED lighting fixture that can be dimmed continuously from 100 to 30 percent, and the Cine 7+7 HD fluid head. This 100mm system offers a host of cine-style features, including a front pan bar. And there was the DV 10 SB fluid head, the smallest 100mm bowl-mount head in the Sachtler DV line, as well as their new FSB 8 75mm fluid head.
Litepanels, an LED lighting pioneer, has now teamed with Hollywood-based underwater motion picture specialist, HydroFlex®, Inc. to develop a family of next-generation underwater lighting fixtures and unveiled the Litepanels SeaSun®.
Regardless of the successful, star-studded Produced by Conference event that competed for the same weekend, this year’s Cine Gear had “a new attendance record,” said Kresser, who was just beaming when I last saw him (and probably still is). “We had a good experience and [are] getting fantastic feedback.”
Camera Copters: www.cameracopters.com
Cine Gear Expo: http://cinegearexpo.com
Element Technica: www.elementtechnica.com
Lee Filters: www.leefiltersusa.com
Paradise FX: http://paradisefx.com
Produced by Conference: www.producedbyconference.com
Production Resource Group (PRG): www.prg.com
Silicon Imaging: http://www.siliconimaging.com