By Wendell Scot Greene
Archimedes said, ‘If you give me a lever and a place to stand, I can move the world.’ He would have felt right at home last weekend in Universal City at the 2004 CineGear Expo, held June 11 and 12.
Standing on the back lot of Universal Studios and surrounded by dozens of tools provided by Panavision, Arri, Dalsa, Thomson-Green Valley, Kodak, Kino-Flo, J.L. Fisher and several other noteworthy manufacturers, many in attendance for the two day event may have indeed left inspired to go forward and shift the axis of their respective worlds.
I thought it would beneficial for the readers of MV Wire to read about a few of the tools displayed at CineGear and to also read comments from working professionals and fellow members of MV Wire community to see what equipment caught their attention at this year’s Cine Gear Expo.
There was a tremendous buzz prior to the event about Panavision who unveiled its new digital camera: the Panavision Genesis. Based on Sony’s CCD technology and designed jointly by Sony and Panavision, the Genesis is a large format digital camera that uses a Super 35mm single chip sensor. This allows the Genesis to retain the same depth of field as regular film based cameras. Genesis also allows you to use existing 35mm lenses, including Primos, primes, and other lenses support.
Some of the features of the Genesis include full bandwidth, dual link 4:4:4 High Definition Serial Digital Interface outputs, single HDSDI monitor output and dual viewfinder outputs, fiber optic camera adaptor, intergrated lens control, and speeds up to 50 fps. With a 12.4 mega pixel, true RGB sensor, and 10 bit log per color output, this camera has a great dynamic range.
In a press statement made available at Cine Gear, Bob Harvey, Senior Vice-President of Panavision World Sales commented: “Filmmakers asked for a camera not tethered to a recording system and free from excessive cables. With Genesis, the docking recorder [Sony SRW-1 VTR ] travels on the top and rear of the camera to simulate the look and feel –as well as convenience of the [Panavision] Panaflex.”
Attendees at Cine-Gear were given the added privilege of viewing a screening of Genesis footage photographed by 5 Time Academy Award Nominated Cinematographer Alan Daviau, A.S.C.
“For me the new Genesis camera from Panavision was a real development”, said Cinematographer Kevin Zanit. “I think it is several big steps in the direction I was hoping digital technology would go towards. The viewing system was great, good enough that I would not feel out of place operating, whereas with past HD gear I would would sit at the monitor”. Obviously the Super 35mm chip size is great as well. It addreses the DOF issues, and allows us use lenses and their accessories we’re accustomed to using.”
The Genesis will be available as a rental item only from Panavision at the end of the year.
Go to just about any music video shoot today and you’re almost sure to find one camera on the set, The Arri 435. Arri has become a mainstay in world of music video production. Director of Photography Johnny Ching attended Cine-Gear and spent a great deal of his time at the Arri booth. I asked him to share his impression on the two new cameras from Arri:
“Well, Arri has done it again by adding a new addition to its already stellar arsenal of cameras: The Arri 235. The 235 is the younger brother of the 435. The 235 is half the size and weight of the 435, and it comes with a Super 35mm gate and 3-perf. I love the bright viewing system and the IVS (integrated video system).
The camera also allows you to change frame rates from 1 to 60fps and you can use film loads up to 400. And the 235 also works with most Arri accessories. This little guy has most of what you’d expect from a modern day motion picture camera. It’s small size, and low weight allows for handheld, steadicam, and any rigs that require a small sized camera. This camera fits over the shoulder perfectly.
The second new camera on display was the Arri 435 “ Xtreme”. Aside from the cool yellow “Xtreme” logo, it’s basically an Arri 435ES (electronic shutter) Advance with the integrated Functional Expansion Module 2 (FEM-2). The FEM-2 gives the X treme the functions you’ll find on the Arricam, such as LDS (Lens Data System) LDD-FP (Lens Data Display), which is available through a wireless handheld console. The previous FEM functions such as Remote Control Unit (RCU, for shutter, and frame rate control) and Iris Control Unit (ICU) are there as well. So if you need a camera that will give you precise control, for complex shot, the 435 Xtreme will deliver.”
There were several lighting companies exhibiting at Cine-Gear, although in this writer’s opinion they would have been better served by having an indoor facility, perhaps a tent or soundstage so we could see some of their tools in action.
I was impressed as always by the growing range of LED lights becoming available in the market place in particular the Kino Flo Koloris DMX system. The Kino Koloris are high output lights designed for color effects. They use (RGB) Red, Green and Blue Light Emitting Diodes (LED). Now you can hand hold or place the lights close to actors or other items in the set without worrying about too much heat on the set or people or having to use heat shields or HT saturated gels You can place them on a dashboard of a car, or on the floor lighting or use them on walls as practicals.
Gaffer Barry Gross who has worked on features, TV shows, concerts, commercials and music videos offers his thoughts on some of the tools that made an impact on him:
“Well first up, I agree that the lighting equipment should be displayed indoors next expo. Arri is making an HMI based Sky Panel light that looked useful. They give off very little to low heat and you can ganged several units together.
Another cool item was the Kinoflo Parabeam, which with the metal honeycomb grid in place can throw a focused beam up to 25 feet. The Parabeam is a wonderful soft source that took the Diva and just ran. I’m buying one.
Power 56 is working on an 18k version of the Alpha 4k. The Alpha is an open face HMI with 2 Fresnel lenses that slide in like a PAR. This is an incredibly bright unit, comparable to a 6k PAR, and is only the size of a snare drum. I can’t wait to see the 18k.
I bought a mini Cardellini clamp from Steve Cardellini. It has a cool adjustable baby pin or the clamp fits into the small pin of a gobo head. Perfect for mounting a “little something for the eyes” onto the camera.”
There were a few other items I saw on display that I feel are worth mentioning:
ZGI “Hummingbird” Monitor
ZGI, which distributes Cooke Optics here in America, demonstrated a new field monitor called the Hummingbird which gives you a bright completely viewable image with fine detail in SUNLIGHT without using a hood. The monitor has a wide-angle view, which means you can see the image standing off to the sides and instead of having watch it standing dead center.
Cooke S4HD 8-46mm T1.7 zoom lens
A mainstay on film cameras, Cooke Optics moves into the world
occupied by Fujinon, Canon and Zeiss. Obviously I’ll have to shoot with this lens to really speak about it with authority and detail, but given the standard of quality in the S-4s, this is about as large a leap of faith as a blind date with Halle Berry’s twin. Clear markings for focus with a viewing window, settings in both metric and feet and a special cam mechanism for back focus adjustment.
Panasonic’s AJ-HD1200A VTR
Now material shot on the Varicam HD or from DVCPROHD VTRS can be transferred via Fire Wire into Apple’s Final Cut Pro HD without any generation loss. Footage maintains it camera original quality because the Fire Wire interface transfers the native DV-HD hi def files as originally recorded on tape in the VTR or Varicam directly to the Power Mac G4 or G5’s internal hard drive, where the captured footage is instantly available for real time editing. Final cut pro users can automatically do a 3:2 pull down from any 24fps HD Varicam footage, saving 60% in disk storage.