As posted in Televisual's Winter issue
It’s difficult to believe the Media Technology Day is only in its second year. It feels so much a part of the UK production community’s calendar. From a comprehensive list of camera and lens exhibitors to a broad series of packed seminars and a noteworthy upbeat buzz in the bar, there’s little doubt the Ham Yard Hotel was the place to be on November 1st. Attendance was up by over a third from last year at over 400 (excluding the organisers, speakers and vendors). Hundreds of producers, directors and DoPs returned after a positive experience in the first year. The busy day finished with welcoming a further 180 guests, including BSC members and honorary members for a BSC and Take 2 sponsored evening screening of The Favourite, followed by a Q&A with charismatic Cinematographer Robbie Ryan BSC, ISC. At the heart of the day's event was a vibrant mix of seminars and panel discussions, all held in the Ham Yard's state-of-the-art 4K cinema.
The stylish rooms off the Ham Yard Hotel bar played host to a number of exhibitors where delegates got their hands on the cameras being discussed within the seminars.There are few UK events where you can find both the main camera vendors and leading lens manufacturers all exhibiting in one place. Sony demonstrated its flagship CineAlta VENICE 6K Full Frame camera with the latest version 2 firmware and a preview of version 3, adding a dual native ISO and higher frame rates in 4K. ARRI brought the newly launched ALEXA LF and Signature Primes, along with the TRINITY and the enduringly popular ALEXA Mini. Panasonic showed its full range of VariCam cameras and the compact but powerful EVA1. Canon exhibited a broad range of lenses and cameras, leading with its flagship C700FF and introduced the new XF705. And RED majored on its new DSMC2 camera line-up (the MONSTRO 8K VV, HELIUM 8K S35 and GEMINI 5K S35) and the value of more pixels for high-end work.
Zeiss came its 6 new exceptionally fast Full Frame Supreme Primes, with 4 being released in 2019. Cooke Optics showed its latest lenses including its Full Frame range and latest /i technology. Sigma’s competitively priced PL and EF cine lenses and cine-zooms were always a draw. Fujinon demonstrated its Full Frame Expander that works with its existing Super 35 cine zooms.
And TLS shared its Project FF where it’s re-housing existing glass for Full Frame and Super 35mm ready T1.5 optical lenses with up to 12 focal lengths, set to be released in 2019. Procam Projects demonstrated its latest fixed rig and multi-camera cine 4K setup with galleries and remote lens control capabilities with exhibiting camera vendors. And Timecode Systems showed how wireless sync solutions drive efficiency in multi-camera production and post production workflows. There was nothing but praise for a well-managed event from all who exhibited, presented and attended. It was widely agreed to be a valuable, memorable and enjoyable day.
The Media Technology Day 2018 was organised by the Procam Group - Procam, Take 2, Procam NY, Procam Projects and TLS - and supported by Televisual. The Media Technology Day included a lively series of seminars and informative panel discussions, covering factual commissioning through to in-camera CG.
Aaron Matthews is BAFTA’s Head of Industry Sustainability and works with albert - the sustainability programme for the Screen Arts. Matthews opened a topical discussion on production sustainability with the fact that for every tonne of carbon dioxide emissions, we lose around three square metres of polar ice. Each hour of original TV production uses around 13.5 tonnes. Joining him were three panellists who have signed up to sustainable practice: Elephant House Studios’ Head of Production Matt Bailey, Splice’s Facilities Director Kate Higham and Procam Group’s CEO John Brennan. Elephant House achieved its first industry certification with albert on a four-part cycling travelogue Britain by Bike with Larry and George Lamb. “It was all about pre production, looking at the logistics and editorially how to structure differently,” says Matt Bailey. Car shares, public transport, avoiding hotel stays, as well as plastic use were all on the hit list. For Splice, this created an imperative to ensure that all of its three facility locations use 100 per cent renewable energy. “It baffles me why the rest of the industry isn’t doing it,” says Higham. “BAFTA makes it so easy, they negotiate rates; it is no more expensive.” Procam and Take 2 have both achieved Carbon Neutral certification. Brennan described a “daunting process” at first, but once it became a focus, the company reduced its carbon dioxide emissions from 610 tonnes to 400 tonnes per annum, including the use of greener vehicles. Procam also invested in an offset scheme.
BBC Studios explored the innovative technology and creative inspiration behind natural history behemoth Blue Planet II, in a session chaired by Andy Quested, Production Standards, BBC Design + Engineering. 26 different cameras were used to capture footage for Blue Planet II across four years of filming, including GoPros and iPhone footage. The decision to make the series in 4K UHD had several rationales, said Patricia Fearnley, Head of Natural History. Longevity was paramount. “We wanted to capture in the best quality, so that in ten years’ time we can still use it.” Colin Jackson, Series Producer, described putting 4K GoPros onto sperm whales to capture ‘on-board’ recordings. One of the biggest challenges – in the ocean depths - was lighting, especially for time-lapse shots. Jackson is looking to develop robotic movement for high resolution cameras for future productions. Andy Corp, Head of Technology at BBC Studios, detailed the 400 terabytes of data captured for the series. To end the session, the audience was shown a first look at the UHD footage from upcoming BBC natural history show Dynasties.
Rupert Cobb, DoP and owner of Gun Hill Studios, shared his thoughts on working with the Panasonic EVA1 and VARICAM LT, detailing the cameras’ faithful and consistent colour reproduction and how it enhanced the development of a new television series. Charismatic Director and DoP Jonathan Jones, Owner of award-winning Ember Films, revealed how he’d put the new Canon EOS C700 Full Frame camera through its paces to shoot a high quality dramatic trailer for Netflix in just three days. Jones articulated the benefits of shooting full frame, the workflow and grading process to produce stunning high-end drama. ASC Award-winning Cinematographer Balazs Bolygo BSC, HSC discussed shooting the short film Shadow on the 6K Full Frame Sony CineAlta VENICE, with firmware version 2.0. Bolygo explored achieving image clarity and true colour rendition, even in low light, and the camera’s versatility and intuitive design. Richard Lewis, Chief Engineer and Camera Specialist, Sony PSE, revealed forthcoming firmware and hardware updates including an extension unit, a new X-OCN XT codec and faster frame rates. Electric Light Studios MD and co-founder Dan Massie, together with DoP Richard Dunton (on Skype), discussed the creative benefits of working with ARRI’s new ALEXA LF camera, with ARRI’s new Signature Prime lenses and the ARRI Trinity Camera Stabilisation System for the filming of Rudimental’s new single.
Nic Hatch, CEO of NCam, explored how pre-visualisation and real-time visual effects empowered the collaborative creativity on seasons two and three of the TV series Outlander. Moderated by DNEG’s Greg Keech, DoP Andrei Austin, VFX Supervisor Richard Briscoe and Nvizible’s Richard Clarke discussed how techniques enabled cast and crew to visualise key CG elements, alongside real-world objects.