Back for the third consecutive year, the Media Technology Day cemented its reputation as one of the must-attend events in the industry calendar with over 500 delegates attending over the day. Held on October 31st at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, the Media Technology Day led with a compelling line-up of seminars and panel discussions with more than 30 expert speakers in the hotel’s impressive, state-of-the-art 4K cinema. The Hotel’s stylish rooms also played host to many exhibitors, allowing delegates to get hands-on with the very latest cameras, lenses, lighting and monitors. There are few UK events where you can find both the main camera vendors and leading lens manufacturers all exhibiting in one place and with so much new production kit to explore. Media Technology Day 2019 was organised by the Procam Group - Procam, Take 2, Procam NY, Procam Projects and TLS - and supported by Televisual.
ARRI showcased the creative possibilities of its new ALEXA Mini LF & Signature Prime lenses mounted on ARRI’s advanced stabilisation system with the TRINITY and stabilised remote head (SRH-3). Canon led with the C500 Mkii ahead of shipping this winter and its new range of super-fast (T1.3 and T1.5) full frame Sumire lenses that come either as PL, so you can mount on a wide range of full frame and Super35 cameras, or as EF-mount. Meanwhile, Panasonic came with its VariCam line-up, EVA 1 and its latest 4K PTZ (remote) cameras that are now in constant use across live production, studios and entertainment shows. Red Digital Cinema led with Take 2 Films’ new RANGER with MONSTRO 8K VV, an integrated large format camera system made for high-end production use. Sony showcased the VENICE with the latest version 5.0 firmware that enables high frame rate capture in 6K. Delegates could also get their hands on the FX9 – again ahead of shipping this winter – which brings full frame shooting to a wider audience with intelligent AF, facial recognition and built-in variable ND filter.
The latest full frame and cine lenses were also on display. Cooke Optics presented its Spherical and Anamorphic/i full frame lens series with /i metadata updates. Fujinon showcased its optically impressive Premista 28-100mm and 80-250mm T2.9 large format cine-zooms. Sigma led with its competitively priced full frame and S35 and EF-mount cine-lenses and cine-zooms. Zeiss came with a new range of unique lenses and the latest full frame Supreme Prime focal lengths. TLS also brought a selection of its most popular rehoused vintage glass, as well as Take 2 Films’ newly acquired full frame glass, Vega.
Litepanels presented its Gemini RGBWW LED soft panel range with the latest Anton/Bauer batteries and Sachtler’ Flowtech tripods. Global Distribution demonstrated Atomos’ about-to-ship cinema-grade Neon HDR monitor/recorders and its own brand enterprise-class Symply storage. G-Technology showed its exceptionally fast on-set and desktop storage. Driving Plates demonstrated its updated library along with upgrades to the rig including enhanced monitoring, 10-bit 4K 4:2:2 and upcoming train plate options. Holdan showed a range of accessories from Teradek, SmallHD, Blackmagic Design, Panasonic, Manfrotto and Syrp.
The Media Technology Day included a lively series of seminars and panel discussions, covering topics ranging from creating digital content to shooting on film.
A packed house heard BBC Studios shed light on the innovative technology used in its latest natural history epic Seven Worlds, One Planet.
In the early days of natural history programming, most animal footage was captured through a long lens. But new technology has allowed a “much more intimate portrayal of animals” and “more character driven storytelling”, said Seven Worlds production executive Caroline Cox. Smaller cameras allowed teams to get closer to subjects. Drones were used “a huge amount”, explained BBC Studios head of technology Andy Corp, to tell new stories and capture sequences – whether in caves or forest canopies – that could never have been filmed before. The drones were pushed to the limits too. Ten drones crashed during production, although each was retrieved and repaired.
The first production to use the Red Helium, Seven Worlds also shot in 7K – which improved picture quality and gave more options to frame shots in post but significantly increased the storage needed. “We shot over one petabyte of data, an enormous amount of media,” said Cox. (One petabyte is 1,000,000 gigabytes).
The challenge of building a business in the digital market was underlined by a panel of digital content specialists at Media Technology Day.
“To survive in digital, you need multiple revenue streams,” said Barcroft Studios chief creative officer Alex Morris, explaining that the company produces TV shows, runs its own YouTube channel, creates content for digital platforms, and self funds its own digital content.
Selma Turajlic, the co-founder of Little Dot Studios, explained that “the commercial value of online video is horrendous, so to survive you have to have scale.” Barcroft Studios, for example, produces 40 original pieces of content a month. Turajlic stressed the importance of sticking to a regular production and release schedule, noting that YouTube’s algorithm favours consistency. Thames TV head of digital Athena Witter added “you always have to be on – you need to keep feeding the beast.”
The panel, which included Sundog Pictures’Johnny Webb, also spoke of the brutal nature of the digital market. “You have got one second to capture someone’s attention, and then five seconds to keep them interested,” added Morris.
A panel of experts also advised how to create better looking programming in an HDR session sponsored by AJA Video Systems. Molinare CTO Richard Wilding stressed the importance of involving post early on to test the cameras to help tailor colour work. “The more we get involved ahead, the better the end result.” CSI colorist and consultant Kevin Shaw said the wider colour spaces of HDR can affect the choice of cameras and lenses. “It can be time consuming to deal with it later.” During production, Shaw stressed that HDR “will see things much more realistically.” On set lighting, in particular, can prove distracting for viewers. Rather than provide a blurred, warm glow, a candle will look highly realistic and “can take a viewer’s eye right across the frame.” The panel also noted that HDR is “notoriously data hungry.” Mission head of colour Pablo Garcia Soriano cautioned about HDR’s extra expense in terms of drives. Meanwhile, AJA Video Systems’ Matthew Causon stressed the importance of on-set and editorial HDR monitoring and test and measurement.
Shooting in film has major creative benefits, a panel of filmmakers and colourists stressed in a Cinelab London sponsored session, ‘Why isn’t shooting film a thing of the past?’ Stink Films’ global head of music videos Katie Lambert said the company shoots 80% of its music videos on film. Head of colour at Coffee & TV, Simona Cristea, said film has a subtlety and sophistication that digital cameras can’t match. In other sessions, Panasonic and Procam Projects ran through the benefits and uses of PTZ cameras. DoP Balazs Bolygo BSC, HSC discussed the production uplift and practicalities of shooting in full frame, in a session sponsored by Fujinon and Zeiss. DoP Tania Freimuth provided insights about shooting with Canon’s full frame Cinema Prime and Sumire lenses. Sony chief engineer DMPCE Richard Lewis also ran through the workflow of the Venice and FX9. ARRI’s Milan Krsljanin wrapped the day with a panel of young directors articulating their experiences of shooting on the Mini LF and Signature Primes, aided by Trinity.