BSC Expo 2017 — Our Picks
The British Society of Cinematographers holds an expo each year to give industry professionals, students and general kit-dribblers a chance to gaze upon some of the latest offerings in lighting and camera tech.
Having been to BVE and IBC in 2016, there wasn’t a huge amount of new releases to look forward to, although it’s always good to catch up with old faces, chat to manufacturers and share a few beers with our friends at certain rental houses.
I did like BSC’s decision to hold the event at Battersea Evolution, a large enough space to contain all of the necessary stands, but without the vast open areas that can sometimes be a bit of a chore to navigate. I’d have liked to have seen a few more lit scenarios to help make judgements on cameras, lenses or lighting, as I was a big fan of the way in which RED and Blackmagic did this at IBC, but as I said, it was an adequate space.
As always, certain things caught my eye more than others, so for what it’s worth, here are my personal highlights from the Friday I spent at the expo.
Panavision Stand — Primo Anamorphic
In all fairness, it was hard to even enter the expo without noticing the cascade of Panavision monoliths containing an assortment of mouth-watering, tear-provoking cine primes.
In Wales, it’s hard enough as it is to come by anamorphic glass full-stop, let alone anything Panavised, so it did feel like a special occasion to glimpse upon some in the flesh (albeit behind a perspex prison). I believe this series was recently used on Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which I’m looking forward to seeing upon its UK release this Friday. Mmmmm…120fps.
Kodak — Super 8 Revival
Again, nothing hugely new, but the first time I’ve had a chance to gaze upon Kodak’s latest offering in the fight against the extinction of film.
I’m unable to comment on the unit itself other than saying that it looks how you’d expect and want a modern arrangement of a Super 8 camera to look — a super simple brick with a handle, a flip-out screen and a record button. What’s not to like?
The stand itself was garnished with a healthy stack of Vision3 canisters, as Kodak will be offering three different stocks to choose from along with the release of the camera: (50D, 200T and 500T). To whet your appetite they were also handing out a very textural, well-designed magazine titled “Kodachrome: Art-Film-Analog Culture” of which this was Issue One. As you can imagine, a magazine with “Analog Culture” in the title flies off the shelf faster than scotch eggs at a BECTU buffet. I wish them the best of luck with this one. Fight the power!
Tiffen Effect Filter Seminar / Test Kits
I very recently began looking into skin-softening diffusion filters, with the Tiffen range being recommended highly to me by the good folks at Video Europe. I’d been planning to test some different filters, but getting hold of them to test was taking a little while. As I approached the stand I noticed they had 30 or so boxes of filters marked “Filter Test Kits”, containing the exact filters I’d been hoping to test.
Now, as you probably already know, if you’re at an expo and something isn’t glued down, most of the time it’s free for the taking, but I was a little sceptical that they would just be handing out product for free.
‘Not wanting to interrupt a conversation that the rep was having with another DP, I wandered off to get a coffee. As I took my first few melancholic swigs, Ben (one of our Directors at S&S) pointed out to me that Tiffen was, in fact, giving a seminar on effect filters in half an hour. We headed over and watched a very insightful talk delivered by John Fauer ASC, of Film & Digital Times, who very kindly gave out a code for a free year’s subscription to his magazine. Roughly mid-way through the talk, he announced that Tiffen was giving out a limited number of filter test kits at their stand. I should probably apologise to John because I immediately left my seat, shuffled out of the seminar room and darted over to the stand and grabbed myself a box. As you can see from the above image, I ran some quick tests with the filters, I particularly like the Pearlescent filter (top left).
Mole LED — Tener LED Fresnels
LED Fresnel (or focusable) lighting has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, with both large and small companies investing in research and development for LED replacements to traditional tungsten fixtures. In theory, the prospect of creating a light source that can output a higher light intensity at a much lesser power draw sounds great. It’s immediately clear to see the benefits of being able to set up high-intensity lights on basic household circuits, especially for the lower budget end of the film market, who don’t necessarily have the budget for a team of sparks or a distro unit. It’s something that certainly excites me as a DoP.
As I walked around this year, it was obvious that companies were now investing heavily in finding new ways to implement LED tech into their product line. Long gone are the primitive days of simple panel area lights. Jem Balls, flexible panels, and focusable LED lights were visible at almost every lighting stand.
What really caught my eye was Mole-Richardson’s high power offering: the 1600W Tener LED. Sized at something akin to a 5K tungsten fixture, the Tener 1600W comes in both tungsten and daylite models. After looking at the light performance data, it’s good to see that the light definitely holds its own against traditional popular tungsten equivalents. The Tener Tungsten model pumps out approximately 1.4x as much light intensity at a 9m distance as an ARRI T2 Fresnel*. The Tener is also fully dimmable from 1o0%-0%, DMX controllable and focusable from 10 to 55 degrees. I’m a bit concerned about its IP rating of 30, as having at least some level of water resistance is pretty important. Nevertheless, an exciting product and hopefully we’ll see more rental houses stocking focusable LED fixtures soon!
*Technical data for the ARRI T2 can be seen here. My calculations were very rough based on the ‘inverse square law’ and should not be taken as solid facts as the data across both lamps had a two-degree deviation in spot angle (10 for Tener and 12 for T2). Technical data for the Tener can be seen in the image above.
I know you’re supposed to leave the best ‘till last, and if you don’t have anything good to say then don’t say anything at all, but I couldn’t leave without having a whine about something….
I didn’t like the C700 when I saw it at IBC, and I still don’t like it now. The menu system just doesn’t sink into my brain, no matter how many times I repeat the same steps. It felt too big last time, and it still feels too big now, especially with the recorder box on the back. The EVF did seem pretty good to be fair, and I’m yet to have shot with the camera, but it’d have to produce some pretty stunning images to make me consider it over an Alexa, Amira or even a Varicam LT. Time will tell!
With BVE fast approaching, I’m hoping to spend a little more time researching releases and seminars, it’ll be good to compare the two expos and see how the manufacturers cater their stands for different markets. Stay tuned!