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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What You May Have Overlooked At NAB 2012

While we were all getting excited about the latest camera offerings at NAB there were a lot of other items that did not get the same hype or exposure but still caught my eye and are worth taking a look at. Some of these offerings are completely new, while others are not as new, but I had not heard about them until this NAB. So take a look at what you may have missed while walking the floor at NAB ...

Della Luce (Great looking threads for the film industry)
Wandering around the show floor was a relatively new clothing company called Della Luce ( ). Not only are they offering a fashionable clothing line that perfectly fits my own personal style and taste, but they have geared their product specifically towards us camera and filmmaking geeks. (Yeah, that's right- we are geeks. Admit it and get over it). Now, not only can we talk about our favorite lens, shooting stop, and the inverse square law, but we can wear it in a fashionable and stylish way! At first glance many of the shirts look like stylish looking clothes, but imbedded within each item is a subtle, or not so subtle reference to some bit of tech. The shirt pictured above, for example, has the aperture F2.8 emblazoned in the crest. Another shirt of theirs has a cross section of a lens on the front, and yet another shirt has timecode scribbled across it in the background. The inner geek in me gets excited about this attention to detail, while the artist in me appreciates the stylistic approach taken in each item of clothing. No longer do we camera and filmmaking geeks have to be subjugated to geek clothing - now we can show off our geeky-ness in style! Keep an eye on this company, as I know they are not only developing great looking clothes, but they are also interested in developing other lines, like set bags tailored toward specific functions.
At the show I picked up one of their shirts and have worn it several times already. And I'm liking the quality and the fit. I can't wait to pick up more clothes to fill out my wardrobe. However, one word of caution- they are a fitted line of clothing, so choose your sizes accordingly. Typically, I wear a medium shirt in loose fitting clothing, but with this fitted line, I wear a large. If I had got a medium, it would have been an uncomfortable fit for me. So if in doubt, go one size bigger than you typically buy, and you should be fine.

Hocus Products (Wireless Follow Focus)
Peter from Hocus Products ( ) was also making the rounds with his Axis1 wireless remote follow focus. This single channel remote follow focus operates off of Sony batteries, has 12 user selectable channels to choose from, and can be fully calibrated by the user. Peter met Eric Diosay and I over at the Letus booth and allowed us to take the unit for a spin ...
After connecting the follow focus to a shoulder rig with an AF100 and a Zeiss CP.2 (which was a rather stiff lens), I proceeded to walk further and further away as Eric monitored the response. The motor had more than enough torque to effortlessly spin the CP.2. Even with all of the unusually high signal interference at the convention, the remote worked up to about 40' away. The convention center at NAB is not a typical shooting environment with all of the added signals being broadcast everywhere for the event. I appreciated that Peter let us take the follow focus for a spin, as other vendors at the show were not allowing demos of the wireless follow focus due to the a-typical signal interference at the show. I think this speaks to the confidence Peter has in his product. Both Eric and I were impressed with the follow focus. It worked reliably, had a quick response, and felt comfortable in our hands. It was small, compact, lightweight, and performed well in a tough environment. What more could be asked of a single channel wireless remote follow focus?

Stype Kit (Motion Control for the Jimmy Jib from Euro Grip)
Also walking the show floor was Frank Brusselman from Eurogrip ( ) showcasing their "motion control" for the the Jimmy Jib. The idea behind this device is that the user targets one or multiple points of interest and the system will automatically zoom, focus, pan, and tilt to keep the subject framed and focused in the shot as the jib operator swings the arm. This allows for more complex moves by a smaller crew which is especially helpful for live events. The system can also fully integrate into a real time graphics engine for use on a virtual set. And it is not just limited to the Jimmy Jib - it will integrate into other jib systems, but to get the most out of it, in the quickest amount of time, the Jimmy Jib is the tool of choice. The demo video they brought with them was quite impressive, as it showed that they could accomplish what they were saying it would do. The move started on a window about 50 feet away, the camera zoomed out, tilted down, boomed up, swung over a hillside, boomed back down, zoomed, tilted, and panned into a close up of a flower that was about 4 feet from the lens. All done by one person - pretty impressive if you ask me. Unfortunately, other than the briefcase they had with them with the physical unit, the laptop with the demo video, and a brochure with some business cards, I have not been able to find the demo video, or other information publicly available anywhere. So I'll be keeping an eye out for them ...

Swedish Chameleon (Stabilized Camera Support)
The last of the nomads walking the show floor, were the guys from Swedish Chameleon ( ) who were showcasing some rather unique camera support for smaller camera rigs. They let me try on their should rig which was surprisingly comfortable, and I could see it coming in handy for the event videographer who has to shoulder their rig for most of the day. In addition to the shoulder support, it features a small brace that goes around the waist to move some of the weight onto the hips. As you can see from the picture above (on the left), this also allows the user to completely let go of the camera if needed. (In the event of needing to change a battery, or some other camera issue).

What really caught my eye was their gyro stabilized shoulder rig. Similar in concept to the Easy Rig, the unit attaches around the waist and has an arm that comes up over the shoulder to support the camera. But that is where the similarities end. The arm is fully metal and features multiple pivot points to allow the user to place the camera where needed. Underneath the camera is a small gyro that keeps the camera stable as the user walks around. Unfortunately, this was a beta version, so I wasn't able to wear the unit, but from the quick demo I was given, the resulting movement looked very smooth. I equate it to a steadicam look, however, the range of motion is more limited by the articulating arm than the moves a traditional steadicam can get.

MYT Works (3 in 1 Sliders)
I've had my eyes on these guys for awhile now. Based in New York, it was great to be able to finally put my hands on their gear and give it a test drive for myself. MYT Works ( ) makes very robust camera support and 3 in 1 sliders. The fully integrated units can go from a hi-hat to skater dolly, to a slider in a matter of minutes. And what impresses me most is that the rigs are lightweight, yet sturdy enough to support a larger camera. Most sliders these days are built around the DLSR camera, and for that purpose, they work great. However, I have found them to be lacking as soon as you put a real tripod head on there like an O'Connor 1030. (Which isn't really all that big ...) When those sliders encounter a head like that, they become too top heavy and unbalanced, making it difficult to get precise compound moves. This is NOT the case with MYT. They had fully built up broadcast cameras on their sliders and I was able to get precise compound moves effortlessly. And I loved it! I didn't have to fight the rig, or have to over compensate - it was solid from the start - allowing me to concentrate on the shot, not the equipment. (Which in my opinion, is how it should be). Needless to say, I'll be adding one of these to my kit in the very near future. They may just be my new favorite slider manufacturer ...

TV Logic (Electronic View Finder A.K.A. EVF)
For those of you who have worked with me, or have spoken with me much, you know I am not a fan of EVF's. (Except for Arri's implementation on the Alexa). I have found them to be cumbersome to work with. The resolution has never been there for me, and there have been weird anomalies like rainbow artifacts in the display. In short, they have been over priced for what you get, so I'd rather just use a second LCD to operate from. (Not ideal, I know, but I found it better than putting up with the other problems ...)
Well, I think I may have just found an EVF that I can be happy using- the TV Logic EVF-035W-3G. This little 3.5" EVF features the same high resolution screen as the iPhone 4 providing a crisp enough picture to judge focus from, the great color rendition that TV Logic is known for, HD-SDI in & out, HDMI in & out, and it will convert from HDMI to HDSDI for you - all for about $1,400. While I was impressed by the specs, it wasn't until I placed my eye in the view finder that I became convinced. I didn't experience any of the nasty rainbow effects, the screen was tack sharp, and it felt comfortable to work with. Granted I still want to take it out in an actual production environment, but I haven't felt this good about an EVF - ever. The only other comparisons for me, would be the EVF from Band Pro (around $10,000), but at that price, it is a rental only item, not something I'd consider owning, like this TV LOgic EVF.

Kino Flo (Compact Florescent Practicals, A.K.A.CFL's)
This product is about 2 years old now, but until NAB, I had not heard about it, or seen it around. It doesn't help any that I can't find it listed anywhere on Kino Flo's site, and the only real details I could find about the CFL was through Jon Fauer's Film & Digtial Times...

Anyway, I have been using CFL's in practicals, as well as in small home brew lights for a while now. And my biggest frustration has been their color rendition. Most of the lamps you can buy at hardware and lighting stores do not have the greatest CRI. But that is no longer the case when buying them from Kino Flo. At 27w each they put out about 100w of light, and last a lot longer than their tungsten counterparts. They come in 3200k and 5600k flavors, so they should integrate into whatever lighting environment you need. This was a cool little find for me. I can't wait to start using them in production ... now if I could just find where to buy them ...

Sekonic Incident Meter (L-308DC)
If you don't know already, I'm a big fan of light meters - yes, even for digital. (Check out why, and get training on their use here). My favorite meter is the L-758c, however, one of the biggest hindrances to owning this meter is the cost- especially for people who are just starting out - which is understandable. So, let me introduce you to the L-308DC. This little meter is much more affordable, and is a great place to start for those just getting into metering. You can pick up one of these meters for about $250 - $280 new, and for less than that if you get one used. It offers both flat, and domed incident metering, and it has settings for the cinematographer, all in the form factor of something that can easily fit in your pocket. It doesn't offer spot metering, nor does it have custom profiles that you can load into the meter, but for a much more affordable price then the 758c, it is still a solid place to start. If you are limited on funds, start with this meter. But if you can save your money, I'd still recommend getting the 758c as it does everything you need it to in one light meter.

Zeiss Anamorphic Lenses (Modern Design with a Classic Look)

Zeiss glass has always had a special place in my heart- they are only surpassed by Cooke's in my opinion, but that is a purely aesthetic choice for me. Zeiss has been designing high end cinema glass for years and their technical precision is surpassed by no one. This is why I'm excited to see them working on a line of anamorphic lenses. The expertise that Zeiss brings to lenses combined with the "anomalies" that the anamorphic format brings with it should make for a beautiful paring. As you can see from the picture above, the lens that they had on show was a prototype. But even in this stage, when I looked through the Alexa that it was attached to, it was a beautiful site. It still had a nice anamorphic lens flare, and the bokeh looked great. I tried to take a picture through the EVF to show here, but none of them turned out well enough- this is just something you are going to have to see in person. I'm glad to see that the anamorphic line of glass is not dying out. Come on Cooke- now it's your turn - where is your set of modern anamorphic lenses .... ;)

Rotolight (A New Take on LED lighting)

Rotolight has been making LED ring lights for awhile now and they are just about to release their next LED, the Anova series. Den Lennie and I walked over to their booth to check this out for ourselves, and we were impressed by what we saw. This flood light offers a nice soft light that doesn't have the typical stair step shadow pattern that is typical in most LED lights. (Which I do not care for). It offers high output for a low power draw (38w draw, and 1000w output), and it can operate from AC, DC, or battery power. It is bi-color, offering any value from 3150k to 6300k. And it has full control via DMX or WiFi. The WiFi option really interested me, and I had that feature demo'ed for me at the booth. Using an iPhone / iPad app a whole slider board is available to your finger tips. You can control all the settings on the lamp from one app, and control each light individually though the virtual slider board. Taking this control one step further, you can even program in lighting changes over time, for example you can have the light dim down over 5 seconds. But most importantly, to me, is the CRI. This unit has a CRI of 90+, and looking through a spectrometer at the light I could clearly see an even band of colors throughout the range, which is what I would expect from a 90+ CRI lamp. (I also looked at some other lights nearby with the spectrometer, and those lights were less then satisfying ...)

Well, that wraps up the gear at NAB that impressed me and that you may have missed.

Until Next Time - Get Out There And Shoot,
Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer 


  1. Hey Ryan,

    I missed NAB this year, so I really appreciate your round up. Couldn't agree with you more on viewfinders, I haven't met that sits well with me. Looking forward to seeing the TY Logic.

  2. No problem- glad to help. :) Yep- the TV Logic looks promising. I can't wait to put it to use in the field! :)