Source: SHOOT Magazine

LOS ANGELES — This past extended weekend’s (6/4-7) Cine Gear Expo on the Paramount Studios lot in Los Angeles provided a mix of new wares on display and in several cases feedback from users of those wares, most notably cinematographers providing assessments of cameras and other technologies. A prime example was DP Gale Tattersall, a two-time ASC Award nominee for his work on the TV series House MD. Speaking during a Cine Gear session before an audience gathered at the Paramount Theater, Tattersall offered feedback on the Canon EOS C300 Mark II camera which he deployed on the Evan Kaufmann-directed short, Trick Shot. Scenes from Trick Shot were screened at the Paramount Theater and Canon highlighted the C300 Mark II at its booth.

Shot on location in Nevada, Trick Shot centers on reformed billiards hustler “Eight Ball” Bobby who is forced to shoot one more crucial game of pool to save his son Devon, who got mixed up in the wrong crowd. Tattersall utilized the EOS C300 Mark II camera to capture the menacing darkness of a seedy pool hall, the stark beauty of the barren desert, and the tense drama of a clever heist film.

Mounted with Canon’s new CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9 Ultra-Telephoto Zoom lens, the camera produced a tracking shot of a speeding car from more than two miles away. Yet when the script called for aerial photography, the camera easily transitioned from sticks on the ground to propellers in the sky. Flying with a Canon EF 24mm 1.4L II USM lens on the Aerigon, a professional cinema drone from Intuitive Aerial Inc., the camera captured the vast landscape of Valley of Fire State Park. Tattersall lauded the versatility of the camera which shifted from hand-held to drone to Steadicam to jib arm to studio mode.

Tattersall also had the XC10 camcorder in his toolbox. The 4K fixed-lens, video-and-still-shooting hybrid served as a point-of-view camera, which the filmmakers put through its paces by mounting it under cars and on pool cues.

Tattersall–whose filmography also includes director Alan Parker’s feature The Commitments, and Steve Beck’s Thir13en Ghosts and Ghost Ship, as well as assorted commercials as a director (via the venerable production house BFCS) and/or DP–said that the extra dynamic range of the C300 Mark II as compared to its predecessor camera is “critical.” He said that the new camera delivers 15 stops per a conservative estimate and that the range in reality exceeds that. Tattersall conjectured that high dynamic range will become more universally valued as producers recognize the “huge visceral experience” it can provide. HDR can make you “feel immersed in the show you’re watching,” making for a totally new experience. Tattersall noted that Canon’s new HDR monitor on display on NAB demonstrates this; unfortunately, he added, the monitor was not at Cine Gear Expo.

Beyond its stated 15 stops of dynamic range, the C300 Mark II features internal 4K recording and dual DIGIC DV5 processors. While the camera debuted at NAB, it is not yet readily available. Distribution is expected to come in September/October. Tattersall said he favored the camera decisively over other digital competitors such as the Red Epic, Red Dragon, and Sony F55 and F65 models. Tattersall used the Dragon on the recently debuted Netflix series Grace and Frankie starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

Rob Hardy, BSC
Sony demonstrated the expanded versatility of its large sensor F65, F55, F5, and FS7 4K cameras, including the F55/F5’s version 6 firmware, implementing Apple ProRes RGB for HD acquisition. Complementing Sony’s technology exhibit were screenings of feature films shot on F65 and F55 motion picture cameras: Monkey Kingdom, Disneynature’s latest nature production; Tomorrowland, Disney’s science fiction mystery adventure; and the sci-fi thriller Ex Machina.

The latter marks the directorial debut of writer (28 Days Later...) Alex Garland and was shot by Rob Hardy, BSC.  Ex Machina also marks the exclusively digital feature cinematography debut of Hardy whose previous film lensing credits include Ralph Fiennes’ second turn as a director, The Invisible Woman starring Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Fiennes as Charles Dickens; Broken directed by noted theater director Rufus Norris and starring Cillian Murphy and Tim Roth; and Shadow Dancer directed by Oscar winner James Marsh and starring Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough.

Garland both wrote and directed Ex Machina which stars Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac. The feature introduces us to a young genius coder at an Internet company who wins a competition to spend a week at the private retreat belonging to the company’s reclusive CEO. On arrival, the coder is thrust into a bizarre experiment which involves interacting with the world’s first true artificial intelligence. This AI comes in the form of a beautiful female robot named Ava, who seemingly becomes human before our eyes.

Hardy deployed the Sony F65 on Ex Machina, discussing his selection of camera before a Paramount Theater audience, noting that he tested the F65 against Red models as well as the ARRI ALEXA. While acknowledging that his assessment is highly subjective, Hardy felt the F65 delivered an image which had a “depth of flavor” and unlike the other cameras dovetailed nicely with the off the beaten path choice of lenses he made for the project. Hardy cited the axiom that lens glass is “the new celluloid” and that the F65 was the camera that could best “read the glass” he chose for Ex Machina. He opted for what he described as an old school esoteric brand of anamorphic lenses. Some, he quipped, might regard it as “shit” glass but it was what he needed to do justice to the story–and the F65 had the versatility to adapt beautifully to the glass, and to a project which ranged from intimate interior sessions with Ava to breathtaking landscapes in Norway.

As for how he got the opportunity to shoot Ex Machina, Hardy said that director/writer Garland was impressed by the DP’s work on Boy A (starring Andrew Garfield) and the first installment of TV’s Red Riding (also featuring Garfield). Furthermore, Garland’s brother is a DP on commercials and prompted the director/writer to meet with Hardy.

Hardy himself started his career after film school in Wales on a mix of short films and many commercials. He said that spotmaking taught him discipline and honed his ability as “a psychologist” to read people and understand what they want while putting forth your own sensibilities to achieve the proper vision.

Hardy recalled being instantly smitten when he read Garland’s Ex Machina script. The DP said it read like a novella while offering incredible visual possibilities.

The Hateful Eight
Also smitten were many attendees at a Cine Gear Expo session showing test footage from director Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, shot by Robert Richardson, ASC. Projected in 70mm anamorphic film at the Paramount Theater, the footage received a rousing response from the audience who applauded when Dan Sasaki, Panavision’s VP of optical engineering, said that Tarantino went with an ambitious film medium approach for an epic feel because he “really wants to get people back into theaters.”

Panavision developed a 2,000-foot magazine for the cameras to facilitate the long takes Tarantino and Richardson desired for The Hateful Eight. Furthermore, vintage Ultra Panavision 70 anamorphic lenses were refurbished for the Tarantino picture. Also helping to realize Tarantino and Richardson’s film vision were Kodak and the Fotokem lab.

Exhibit round-up
Among the many wares on display at the Cine Gear Expo exhibit space were:

o Panavision and Light Iron (a Panavision company) shared booth space at Cine Gear Expo, showcasing varied technologies, including an 8K DI demo providing a first look at 8K Cinema with video of L.A.’s skyline and other sites, including City Hall, directed by Light Iron president Michael Cioni and shot by Light Iron mobile services producer Aaron Kroger. The components that went into the demo included 8K Panavision Primo 70 optics, the Red Weapon camera and 8K Weapon sensor, 8K Quantel Pablo Rio (real-time 16 bit 8K DI color correction and playback), and 8K BOE 98” panel with 178º viewing angle.

Other attractions at the Panavision/Light Iron booth included: PanaNet, a high speed fiber network connecting production to postproduction on a global scale; Panavision’s new streamlined and ultra-lightweight OUTPOST system; and Light Iron’s iPad dailies program, Live Play 3, now available on OS X, billed as the only dailies viewing tool that is fully multi-cam aware and can sync and stream up to seven cameras, Live Play 3 also offers a collaborative database that allows iPad and Os X users to make and share notes.

o JVC Professional Video, a division of JVCKENWOOD USA Corporation, showcased its new 4KCAM product line. Led by the flagship GY-LS300 Super 35mm camera, which accepts a variety of interchangeable lenses, the new cameras support a variety of workflows with 4K imaging, efficient encoding, and dual SDHC/SDXC card slots.

Designed for cinematographers, documentarians, and broadcast production departments, the GY-LS300 features JVC’s 4K Super 35 CMOS sensor and an industry standard Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount. It records 4K Ultra HD, Full HD with 4:2:2 sampling, SD, and Web-friendly proxy formats. With JVC’s unique Variable Scan Mapping technology, the camera electronically adapts the active area of the Super 35 sensor to provide native support of PL and EF mount lenses, among many others. As a result, using third-party lens adapters, the camera provides almost limitless lens options without compromising image quality or lens characteristics.

The GY-HM200 is JVC’s most affordable streaming camcorder and is ideal for corporate video or ENG applications. It features a 1/2.3-inch BSI CMOS chip and built-in 12x zoom lens (24x dynamic zoom in HD mode) with optical image stabilizer to deliver 4K Ultra HD, 4:2:2 Full HD (50Mbps), and SD imagery. The GY-HM200 and the GY-LS300 also include dual XLR audio inputs that are mic/line switchable with built-in phantom power, an integrated handle with hot shoe and dedicated microphone mount, and SDI and HDMI video outputs.

The GY-HM170 records 4K Ultra HD as H.264 files, and can record HD and SD footage in a variety of resolutions and frame rates. Other professional features include an integrated 12x optical zoom lens with two ND filters, built-in stereo microphone and 3.5mm audio input, and live 4K UHD output through a built-in HDMI connector. All 4KCAM cameras include a 3.5-inch LCD display and 1.56 megapixel color viewfinder, both with smart focus assist functions.

Both the GY-LS300 and GY-HM200 include a built-in HD streaming engine with Wi-Fi and 4G LTE connectivity that allows live HD transmission directly to hardware decoders, the Wowza Streaming Engine, and the ProHD Broadcaster server powered by Zixi. With support for various streaming protocols including RTMP, the cameras can also stream directly to Ustream and other content delivery networks (CDN), as well as popular websites.

o A special 4K screening of Tomorrowland took place on Friday night (6/5) at the Paramount Theater. Directed by Brad Bird and shot by Claudia Miranda, ASC, Tomorrowland stars George Clooney and Britt Robertson, respectively, as a former boy genius and a gifted teenager who set out on a dangerous mission to unearth the secrets of Tomorrowland, an enigmatic location caught between time and space. While the screening was presented by Sony in that the movie deployed its F55 and F65 cameras, back on the exhibit floor another key contributor to the movie, lighting and entertainment production services company DPS Cinema, showed the capabilities of Enhanced Environments, its state-of-the-art photo realistic environment technology.

By incorporating LED screens with pre-shot media, Miranda is providing cast and crew the benefit of working inside seamless, photo-realistic environments while on stage. On Tomorrowland, Miranda reached out to DPS Cinema for the technical support and assistance in building his largest media enhanced environment to date.  DPS Cinema executed an installation of  2200 Barco MiStrips, 400 FLX 11mm LED panels and provided technical support and control for the sci-fi mystery film, which allowed Miranda to engage the actors in an “immersive environment”.

“Actors always sit well being in an environment that’s lit appropriately, and the best thing you can do is put them in that environment,” noted Miranda. “LED gives you that flexibility. In the story the actors are supposed to be in a room that looks like a 3D immersive screening room. They see something blowing up, it might be red, or a volcano erupting, or they’re in a cool place and the whole environment goes cool, or they’re racing through streets, you see all the trees and everything go by them. Utilizing LED panels is the best way, I always feel, to make people stick to the surfaces they’re supposed to be on”.

“The DPS Cinema division provides technical and creative support for filmmakers endeavoring to achieve unique results with advanced lighting and media technology. DPS Cinema’s Enhanced Environments are the result of that technical commitment,” said Paul Kobelja, VP, DPS Cinema.

DPS Cinema is a principal supplier of the latest in state of the art photo-realistic environments. The company’s work can also be seen in Disney’s upcoming live action production of The Jungle Book, and 20th Century Fox’s 2015 update of Fantastic Four. Kobelja also sees creative-expanding and cost-saving implications and applications in other key markets such as automotive advertising. By meshing projection and flexible LED screens with pre-shot media, DPS can create environments opening up new worlds for car shooting. Miranda, an Oscar winner (Life of Pi) who has extensive experience in spotmaking, observed that via DPS Cinema’s Enhanced Environments process, “You can actually place the talent in a lighting environment that is photo real, and the whole thing grounds itself to reality.”

o Blackmagic Design exhibited the Blackmagic URSA Mini, a compact and lightweight Super 35 digital film camera. URSA Mini features a 4.6K image sensor, switchable global or rolling shutter, up to 15 stops of dynamic range, a five-inch foldout viewfinder and dual RAW and Apple ProRes recorders. Blackmagic URSA Mini is available in four models, with a choice of either EF or PL lens mounts and 4K or 4.6K image sensors.

o Wes Phillips and Dale Backus, along with some friends, had been creating commercials for local clients in North Carolina when they entered the first Doritos-sponsored Crash The Super Bowl contest years back, coming up a winner. But this was before there was a cash prize attached to the accomplishment. So they entered again when the cash ante was upped considerably, and Phillips and Backus won yet again–this time using the prize as seed money to launch Small HD in 2009; the Cary, N.C.-based company has since become known as a pioneer of compact high definition field monitors.

At Cine Gear Expo, SmallHD showcased the new 501, the second field monitor in its new-platform 500 Series of 5-inch full HD on-camera monitors. It joins the award-winning 502 monitor and Sidefinder viewfinder introduced at NAB 2015 and is available immediately.

Just like the 502, the compact 501 delivers 1920×1080 resolution images with extraordinary sharpness and detail in the most feature-packed camera-top monitor on the market.  Only differing from the 502 in its input/output capability, the 501 simply features a full-size HDMI in/out interface, creating a $300 savings over the 502 due to this reduction in circuitry.

“By eliminating the high-speed SDI interface and signal cross-conversion, we’re able to cut the price below $900,” said Phillips. “The 501 delivers a crisp and color-accurate display that is sharper than the newest iPhone, and high end features like HD waveform and 3D LUTs, making it the perfect professional camera-top monitor for smaller HDMI based cameras—not to mention that it integrates perfectly with the Sidefinder HD viewfinder accessory coming this summer.”

The 501 boasts all the world-class software features found on the highest-end SmallHD products, and makes them quick and easy to access. The 501’s menu system is easily navigated with the flick of the thumb, and can display a huge range of critical features in an instant.  From framing guides, focus assist, false color and zebra exposure indicators, to HD waveform, image capture and 3D LUT import capability, the 501 is the most confidence inspiring on-camera monitor under $1000, giving the user a highly accurate view of what they’ll see in post production.

Same as the 502, the 501 can also be used as the display for SmallHD’s award-winning Sidefinder electronic viewfinder, transforming it into a high definition monitor/EVF combo. The Sidefinder is a union between either of the 500 Series monitors and the SmallHD patent-pending, custom-designed EVF Loupe. The Sidefinder 501 (501 and Loupe) will be priced around $1200.

The 501 has the same sleek 2.95” x 5.78” x 0.80” (75mm x 146.8mm x 20mm) form-factor as the 502, and weighs in at only 7 ounces (0.2 kg). Both 500 Series monitors are rugged, housed in an aluminum frame with a rubberized coating, and extremely portable—small enough to be carried in the pocket. Power comes from up to two Canon LP-E6 style batteries, or LP-E6 style adapters that provide power from the AC wall plug or from a D-tap connector on a pro battery power system like Anton Bauer. Draw is minimal, allowing all-day operation off of two LP-E6 batteries under normal use.

The 501 Monitor is shipping now. The Sidefinder EVF Loupe will be available this summer for $300.

o Known for its popular Area 48 soft lights, BBS Lighting takes remote phosphor LED technology a step ahead with what’s being billed as the first truly modular system in an all-new versatile form factor. With the new Pipeline LED System, lighting designers, DPs, videographers, and gaffers can enjoy the many benefits of BBS’ Remote Phosphor light quality, in an expanded array of modular fixtures to suit their specific requirements.

The Pipeline System provides soft projected light that is fully controllable and dimmable with no color shift or flickering, and an ultra-high TLCI rating (Television Lighting Consistency Index). Whether installed in a multi-lamp reflector bank, or deployed stand-alone, Pipelines provide extremely pleasing soft light for modeling faces and illuminating backgrounds.

Pipeline features include low power draw, high light output (more than 1000 lumens per foot), 180-degree light dispersion, heatless and fan-less operation, long lamp life and optional wireless DMX 512 light control. The lamps, available in 3200K, 4300K and 5600K color temperature output, can be used in a bi-color arrangement mixing different color temperature Pipes (lamps) to achieve mid-range color temperatures.

The new Pipeline System offers a convenient cylindrical form factor of 1” [25mm] diameter and lengths of 1’, 2’, 3’ and 4’ (305mm, 610mm, 914mm and 1219mm). Pipeline’s remote phosphor design provides a TLCI of 95+ in 5600K, 4300K, and 3200K. Unlike standard LED lighting where phosphor is applied directly onto the Light Emitting Diodes, BBS Pipes utilize a phosphor layer, positioned away from the LEDs, providing brighter, higher fidelity light emission.

The Pipeline Remote Phosphor LED System offers one, two and four Pipe reflector housings for each length. Pipes quickly snap into the housings via magnetic locks on each end. Control is provided by manual dimmers or wireless DMX. The optional Smart Control automatically senses individual color temperature. It operates up to 8 Pipes simultaneously and offers DMX 512 in and out and DC input.

With a low draw of 10 Watts per foot, the system may be powered from standard AC outlets 100-240V 50-60Hz or will work off of 14V DC batteries. Cine Gear Expo attendees got a taste of the Pipeline System which BBS partner Toby Sali estimated will be readily available in September.