Cine Gear Expo 2018 Roundup: What Caught Our Eye

Cine Gear Expo 2018 took place on the Paramount lot in Hollywood June 1-2. We checked out the show to take in what’s new in the world of digital cinema and production gear. Cine Gear is a focused show, and is mainly aimed at filmmakers, less so at broadcasters and television production. First, some general impressions. The buzz at the show was all about full-frame cinemas. Long the tool mainly utilized by huge budget widescreen and IMAX epics, full-format digital cinema cameras are now coming down in cost while increasing in choices and availability. The RED Monstro VV, Panavision DXL, Arri 65 LF, Canon C700 FF and the Sony Venice have all led the charge toward full-format imagers. Many find that full format has a different aesthetic and feel from S35 imagers and, undoubtedly, the full-format field of view and depth of field are quite different than what’s obtained from an S35 imager.

Taking that one step further, full-format cameras tend to be larger, heavier and require full-frame lenses and, to a point, support gear, although digital cinema cameras can be configured and rigged in so many ways that an increase in size and weight over an S35 imager camera may or may not be apparent to the end user.

Besides the industry excitement over full-frame cinema cameras, Cine Gear also represents a good opportunity to check out the tools of the trade for filmmakers with every kind of support gear on exhibit. The show is overwhelming, like most industry trade shows, but here are a few of the products that we found most interesting.

Kingston Technology DCP1000 SSD

At first, you may question the wow factor of a small, black metal storage unit, but take a look at what the DCP1000 can do for you and you may change your mind. Which asset is a filmmaker’s most precious commodity when in production? That’s right, time. In production, time is money and the longer it takes to do any particular task, the money it can waste affects the bottom line in numerous ways. Designed for data centers, the Kingston Technology DCP1000 is finding its way onto the data management carts for on-set DITs and data managers alike. The simple reason is speed. The DCP1000 is an SSD on steroids as far as comparisons to existing hard drives and SSDs go. It delivers 1.25 million IOPS with ultra-low transactional latency and high throughput.

In its 3.2 TB version, the DCP1000 achieves sequential read and write speeds of up to 6,800 MB/s. This allows DITs and data wranglers to quickly and efficiently download cards and media from production at a fraction of the speeds DITs and data wranglers must endure today in production. With most typical RAIDs and SSD drives delivering speeds that peak at around 600-700 MB/s, you can see how utilizing this new PCIe Gen 3.0 drive increases efficiency on set, especially when many more productions are shooting RAW files that are huge. Think of this SSD as a whole new category of quick, small and convenient storage for your shoots.

XM2 Sierra Drone

Walking around Cine Gear, we came across the XM2 Sierra. What is it? Why, it’s only the largest motion picture-oriented drone we’ve ever seen! Really, the specs say it all. Maximum payload weight 30 KG/65 pounds. Rated horizontal speed is 37 mph with a maximum climb rate of 16 ft/s. The XM2 drone has a flight time of 12 minutes. Made of carbon fiber and aluminum, it’s powered by six 16,000mAh batteries. The XM2 is set up for Dual Operator camera control and has a redundant power distribution system in a modular design.

Let’s go back to that payload spec of 65 pounds. Think about it, this drone can fly new FF cameras like the Arri Alexa 65 or, as it was shown here at Cine Gear, with the Panavision DXL. This is probably one of the only drones on the market where mounting longer zooms on a full-frame digital cinema camera is a possibility. This drone rates a mention simply because it goes outside of the box and occupies an interesting territory between normal drones and full-sized helicopters. When seen in real life, the XM2 looks spectacular—a mechanical work of art.

Zeiss Supreme Prime Lenses

What good is shooting with a new state-of-the-art full-format digital cinema camera if your only lens choices are older glass that may or may not have the color, sharpness and flare characteristics you’re looking for? Enter Zeiss with the new Supreme Series of digital cinema lenses. With most of the lenses in the line rated at a T1.5, they reveal subtly nuanced detail, deep shadows and bright highlights. While some Zeiss lenses are acknowledged for their razor sharpness, from what we experienced, the new Supreme lenses veer closer to a softer, more elegant look, both in falloff and bokeh.

The lenses feature a unique Zeiss eXtended Data technology that gives the operator, DP and VFX departments key lens data based upon the open Cooke /I Technology standard plus Zeiss specific lens data that contains the precise shading and distortion characteristics of each lens. This is frame-accurate information that includes focal length, focusing distance, T-stop and depth of field. The Supreme line has a release schedule that includes the availability of the 25mm, 29mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 100mm this year with additional focal lengths of 15mm, 18mm, 21mm, 65mm, 135mm, 150mm and 200mm being released over 2019 and into 2020. All lenses except the 15mm (T1.8), 150mm (T 1.8) and 200mm (T2.1) are T1.5. The lenses in the Supreme line are equipped with an interchangeable mount that allows the PL (positive lock) mount to be changed to LPL or to Canon EF Mount. All three mounts pass through the Zeiss eXtended data. Generally acknowledged as one of the finest brands of lenses on the market, the new Supreme Series just adds another layer of goodness to the Zeiss brand.

Kino Flo Retrofit Kits for Four Bank and Image 80

Part of what was exciting at Cine Gear wasn’t just new gear but also options that make your existing gear more modern and add value. What if you own a stage, grip and lighting truck or a facility with a pile of Kino Flo Image 80 or Four Banks fluorescent lights? While fluorescent lighting is much more energy and heat efficient than Tungsten lighting, it’s 2018 and modern LED technology is a step more efficient and heat saving or fluorescent. You don’t have to sell your older Kino Flo lights, you can now upgrade them to modern LED technology. Kino Flo showed off the new kits at Cine Gear and the upgrades look interesting to say the least.

Repurposing the legacy Image studio series products makes it easy and affordable for customers to transition their used inventory to the latest Kino Flo LED technology that comes standard on the company’s Celeb, FreeStyle and Diva-Lite LED lights. Kino Flo supplies pre-assembled, 5-emitter LED panels along with a specially designed “LED control cover” with all the electronics and controls built in. The new LED cover will replace the existing Image 80/85/87 or Image 40/45/47 covers and will conform to ETL electrical standards.

Repurposing fixtures with Kino Flo-engineered LED panels and control electronics (including the new TrueMatch® Firmware 3.0) breathes new life into the older Image shells. Some of the features include Kino Flo’s easy-to-use menu and color management system, the popular White Light mode >96 photo rendering, full correlated color temperature selection (2500K to 9900K), Hue Angle and Saturation mode, Gel Presets, RGB mode and the new Lighting Effects mode. The new controller covers will also include built-in Lumen Radio wireless DMX, universal VAC input, advanced square wave and linear dimming, plus some added features unique to the Kino Flo retrofit design.

Red Rock Micro DigiBoom

Talk about thinking outside of the box! Red Rock Micro had their new DigiBoom gimbal stabilized camera rig on display and we were even able to try it out. The DigiBoom is sort of a combination of a Steadicam, gimbal and jib with the portability to add energy to your shots during news, events and sports or even with filmmaking. The DigiBoom is perfect for quickly and easily raising your camera height in crowds or over obstacles. The pole extends over 8 feet and there’s an optional 3-foot extension available as well. The other element the DigiBoom adds is movement on any axis.

The beauty of the concept is that DigiBoom becomes an all-purpose moving camera, easily accessible and usable by small crews for BTS, documentary and event coverage. It holds a camera weighing up to 6.5 pounds and includes integrated camera power and control. DigiBoom requires two Sony NP series batteries to power it and also has two XLR ¼” combo jacks for audio input. The DigiBoom will definitely be more flexible and easier to use with small, lightweight cameras. We were impressed with the ease of use, flexibility and versatility of the rig. It’s not the right solution for every production challenge, but for those who want a small, roaming camera with a variety of options for how the camera moves and tracks, check out the DigiBoom.

Anton Bauer Dionic XT Batteries

Anton/Bauer has introduced a new line of batteries, the Dionic XT, with some new, innovative features in performance and reliability. The batteries are available in both V-Mount or Gold Mount. (Yes, Anton Bauer makes V-Mount batteries—a lot of people don’t know that!) The Dionic line is being produced in two sizes: XT 90 (99Wh) and XT 150 (156Wh). These batteries feature a backlit display, P-Tap, USB power out and should maintain good performance over the battery life, which is exceedingly high, up to 1,200 charge cycles.

The new Dionic XT batteries feature an onboard backlit display. Once the battery is attached, it displays remaining run-time hours and minutes for the device. For battery capacity shown in percentage and other real-time diagnostics, users can simply tap the back plate of the battery to scroll through more information. Dionic XT batteries are compatible with multiple brand chargers and they’re also certified as air-transportable. The company claims the XT’s 12A of constant current (175W) brings 10 percent greater runtime and 20 percent more current compared to previous generations.

The XT line features a P-Tap for powering monitors, EVFs and recorders as well as a USB plug for charging phones or smaller batteries. Some key Dionic XT specs are:

  • Capacity: 99Wh (XT 90) or 156Wh (XT 150)
  • Amperage: 12A
  • V-Mount or Gold Mount
  • Connections: 1 X P-Tap / 1 X USB
  • Weight: 0.8kg / 1.76 lbs (XT 90) or 1,1kg / 2.4 lbs (XT 150)
  • Maximum Discharge Rate: 173W or 12A
  • Output Voltage: Nominal 14.4V, Operating 10.0~16.8V

I’ve used Anton Bauer batteries throughout most of my career, going back to the days of Betacam SP as well as Arriflex S16 cameras. They’ve always been reliable and it’s good to see the brand innovate, making batteries easier and more reliable to use than ever before.

Cine Gear 2018: It’s a Wrap!

This was by no means an exhaustive recollection of all that we saw and experienced at Cine Gear, these are just items that, for one reason or another, stuck in our mind and made an impression. Cine Gear continues to be a place to see and experience the latest and greatest, and 2018 was no different.