The British Society of Cinematographers held it’s annual Expo at the Battersea Evolution Centre in London this weekend just gone. The Expo is a great opportunity to see new products being showcased and to catch up with colleagues and acquaintances.
Having been in attendance for a few years now, I often find myself seeing many familiar faces, of both visitors like myself and of course the exhibitors themselves. Whilst the Expo is primarily for manufacturers to show off their new goodies, I find that the one on one discussions with the manufacturers themselves is far more valuable.
It was great to say hello to old friends at Zeiss, Sony, Cirro Lite and A.C. Ent among others, plus wonderful to be acquainted with new faces at Arri, Fujinon, Angenieux and many more. Having the ability to chat face to face about any of their products and ask specific questions to the very person who designed said product is just awesome, and in return they benefit from real world feedback from users too.
As far as new products are concerned, the Arri Alexa 65 and the RED Weapon VistaVision (Dragon 8K) probably compete for the top spot in terms of popularity. Whilst the Alexa 65 has been seen at the Expo in previous years, on display were Arri’s range of large format optics, including their ‘DNA’ line - which I am told humorously (though probably not officially) stands for ‘Do Not Ask’. Each set is essentially built to order by any given cinematographer, who requests a lens with a certain ‘look’, appropriate for whatever film they may be using them on. After a few years Arri may stop taking ‘orders’, and so every set of DNA lenses will be completely different.
On the Saturday, RED had one of their VistaVision cameras on show. One of only ten currently in the world, it garnered a lot of attention; the RED stand even had a reception of wine and beer to further draw in onlookers. Suddenly the famous white ‘Stormtrooper’ Weapon Helium (of which there are only a very limited number) doesn’t seem so rare. I counted three at the show.
Across both days are various seminars covering all sorts of topics, including Arri's Trinity stabiliser, Sony's new X-OCN format, to a panel of BSC members in discussion. The latter of which I was unable to get in to as people were literally pouring out of the doors - it may have had something to do with Bradford Young BSC being in attendance - recently nominated for an Oscar for his work on Arrival. I did however manage to attend a talk on underwater cinematography by Mike Valentine BSC - who had many amusing anecdotes from his vast career.
With so many new products on show it’s impossible to write up all of them. The best thing you can do is follow them on Twitter and register for next year’s show. See you there.