Thursday, 29 November 2012

ScreenHI at BVE North - The Tech Event of the North

Tom Duncan
Tom Duncan


By Tom Duncan, Director/Producer, ScreenHI

Part 1:  Arrival and First Look at Cinema Cameras

The Broadcast Video Expo in London is the go-to tech event for the media production industry. BVENorth however, is an offshoot of the main event which brings all the big names in production up to Manchester for 2 days in November. ScreenHI sent our resident Producer/Director Tom Duncan along with frequent collaborator and aspiring Cameraman Kevin McAloon to get the lowdown.


Manchester City Centre
Manchester City Centre
Venue for BVE North - Manchester Central
Venue for BVE North 2012 - Manchester Central
Tom: Over the next couple of days I'm probably going to learn a million new things I'll need to forget by this time next year. But Kev and I are going to do our best to filter through the sales pitches to narrow down the most relevant info: what hardware and software out there just now is worth investing in? As far as I'm concerned, I'm a selfshooter with tight turnarounds, mostly for the web. I need cost effective lightweight kit which can work in all environments and still look impressive. I'm interested in DSLR technology and 35mm filmmaking but it won't heavily impact my day-to-day workflow.

Kev: I'm a self-confessed camera geek so I want to see the biggest and best of BVENorth. I'm hoping to further my career in the camera department and being up to date with kit is a key part of that. I'm particularly interested in finding a camera which fills the gap between the DSLR and pro camcorder ranges. What is the next step up for a DSLR user?

Manchester Central
Manchester Central

Cinema Cameras - Blackmagic and Sony

Kev at BVE North in Manchester

Our first stop on the Tuesday morning was the Creative Video stand where they were exhibiting the Sony F55 and BlackMagic Cinema Cameras. Over the past year, the camcorder market has been playing catch up with the DSLR revolution and these 2 cameras can be considered game-changers in their own right. The Sony F55 is lined up to rival the RED workflow which has dominated low budget digital cinema production over the last 4 years. The BlackMagic, retailing at under £2000, brings 2K RAW recording to a new market.

Tom: (Gripping BlackMagic Cinema Camera) This feels awesome. I'm impressed by the ergonomics and feel of both this and the F55 but the obvious drawback of these contraptions is the convoluted rigs required to maximize their output. I'd be worried about the internal battery too - always having to recharge on location could be difficult. The F55 shoots 4K and although it's not released until January, is expected to be priced aggressively to challenge RED's dominance.

Kev: Hmm the Blackmagic Camera, I've wanted to get my hands on this thing for a while but I've read mixed reviews. Lets start with the sensor; 15mm 2.3x crop; this means that your image is reducing your field of view by over two times. It's going to be hard to find a lens which will give you a nice wide shot. Also, it's not an “out of the box” camera. It requires plenty of add-ons, like a cage system, before you can go shooting. Many thought it was going to be a killer camera, leaving DSLRs and even some higher end cameras by the wayside but the more we learn this seems less likely. Peeking through the viewfinder however, one thing is killer and that's the image, and above everything else, people buy killer images.

Kev testing the camera
Camera testing


Panoramic inside BVE North in Manchester

The busiest stand throughout the morning was undoubtedly the Canon exhibit. With a plethora of new models encircling an extravagant C300 ice sculpture, Canon have firmly established themselves at each price and production point in the digital cinema revolution.  We sidestepped the throbbing crowds and snuck around to the HireACamera stand, where their C300 model was rigged up to a Zacuto Recoil.

Canon Stand
Kev at the Canon stand
More camera testing


Tom: This is an incredibly compact camera system which again requires a beast of a rig. Part of this rig is a Samurai Ninja breakout box. It's used to capture higher bit-rate broadcast output - I just don't understand why this functionality isn't built in to the cameras.  The electronic viewfinder and wooden grips add a legitimacy and ergonomic feel to the rig but ultimately I struggled to get to grips with it, clattering into the nearby jib and almost knocking out one of the HireACamera staff.

BVE North in Manchester
Kev: Being a Canon user myself I wanted to have a look at the toys on display and something caught my eye. It looks like the C300 but noone is having their photo taken with it. Upon closer inspection it's a C100. My first thoughts are: “Cool, it's what you buy if you want the C300 but cant afford it”. Priced at about £4,000+VAT, Im intrigued. It has the same sensor size as it's older brother, ergonomically it's a little smaller, but the devil is in the detail. This has limited options in terms of frame rates compared to the C300.  Realistically I would want that for the money I'd be parting with. The search for a legitimate step up from my DSLR continues.

Part 2 coming soon


ScreenHI is a not-for-profit oragnisation and is one half of Creative HI. The organisation aims to provide unique job, training and netowrking opportunities and to encourage local economic activity within the Creative Industries across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, specifically in the Music, Screen and Broadcast sectors.
See more about ScreenHI on their website
Follow ScreenHI on twitter @ScreenHI

Tom Duncan is a BAFTA-nominated freelance director/producer who develops, shoots and edits factual content for broadcast and business.
See more of Tom Duncan's work on his website
Follow Tom on twitter @Tom_Duncan

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