When’s the last time you saw a cool invention? Something that made you say, “Yes — what a good idea!”? We had that feeling a lot at Cine Gear Expo in Brooklyn’s very impressive new Industry City, a new creative hub and shopping center near the waterfront of Sunset Park.
From pocket-sized smoke machines to robot dollies to monitors that take the guesswork out of color, we found ourselves constantly in delight as we wandered the Cine Gear Expo booths. Attracting everyone from seasoned filmmakers to newcomers sizing up equipment that will save them stress on their first feature, the event, held March 10-11, was a no-attitude, friendly affair where movie lovers shared their coolest tricks of the trade.
We also operated our own booth, where we handed out candy, copies of our Michael B. Jordan issue and details on MovieMaker Production Services. (Nice to meet you, everybody.) The next Cine Gear Expo will be in Los Angeles June 1-4, where you’ll be able to see some, but not all, of the cool devices we’re about to cruise though like a remote-controlled camera through a crowd.
So with that, here are 10 cool things we saw at Cine Gear Expo. Some of them are very affordable, and others you’ll want to rent.
Vosentech Mini Smoke Machines
Walking into the Cine Gear hall, you couldn’t help but notice clouds of smoke. They came courtesy of Ivan Avenesov, founder and CEO of Vosentech, which makes incredibly prolific smoke machines for $330 or less that can also fill a room (or film set) with smoke in a matter of minutes. They also include filters that control how thickly the smoke billows, and in what pattern.
The devices, which he started manufacturing a few years ago via 3D printer, are small enough to fit in a pocket, or under a cape if you use them for cosplay, as some customers do. But pros use them too: Vosentech’s customers have included Netflix and CBS productions that saw no need for bigger, more expensive smoke machines.
Flanders Scientific Monitors
Plan to do a lot less color correction in post production if your set includes Flanders Scientific’s on-set monitors, the latest of which are the 16″ DM160 (priced at $4,500) and 22″ DM220 (at $6,500).
Both provide reference-grade OLED monitoring from production to post. The DM160 is especially lightweight at 5.8 lbs, and both monitors are ideal for eye-popping, crystal-clear imagery, and include an LUT Interpolation Engine with a wide range of calibration and Look LUT memories for accurate color.
The DM series of monitors all offer reliable volumetric auto calibration thanks to their AutoCal functionality. The process is powered by the monitor itself and requires only a supported probe, with no need for a powerful computer or expensive software. Here’s a look at the DM220 at the last Cine Gear Expo in Atlanta, before Brooklyn.
Nanlux 1200B Light in the Cine Gear Splash Zone
Nanlux found a fun way to show off its new bicolor light’s Kelvin range from 2700 to 6500K: a series of demos in which Cine Gear passers-by could drop Lego figures or pop balloons over a water tank while a high-speed TMX7510 Phantom Camera recorded at up to 875,00 frames per second.
The result: happy crowds of lighting enthusiasts geeking out over hyper-artistic, richly articulated slow-mo splashes, without the slightest flicker. The Nanlux Evoke 1200B LED Bi-Color Spot sells in a kit with a fresnel lens and flight case for about $5,800.
TMX7510 Phantom Camera
About that camera: It was operated by high-speed DP Ryan McIntyre, owner of CineSpeed Productions, who specializes in ultra-slow speed, beautifully detailed content. Ever wanted to watch a BMX stunt, cannonball explosion or an Oreo dunking into milk with hypnotic, majestic sloooowness?
In an industry that is understandably so often focused on efficiency and speed, it was almost meditative to watch McIntyre relive small, exquisite little movements, again and again, with help from the Nanlux 1200B.
Phantom says that its backside-illuminated high-speed sensor enables heretofore impossible resolution and speed combinations, and stellar data management that ensures you won’t lose a single splash.
Some examples of Ryan’s work outside of Cine Gear:
We’ve seen the Vortex4 at a few other shows, including Cine Gear in Los Angeles last year and the NAV Show in Las Vegas, but it never stops impressing us.
Creamsource’s Vortex8 won immediate love from gaffers when it debuted three years ago, and Australia’s Creamsource responded with a smaller version, the Vortex4, which last year won a NAB award in the location/studio lighting category. Each unit is astonishingly easy to move around.
The company often douses its lights in water to show their resilience, but kept them dry this time. CreamSource has nothing to prove: The Vortex4 and 8 both boast a near-perfect IP65 rating, which is the measurement of how much light and dust the lights can keep working in. The Creamsource Vortex4 RGB LED Light Panel sells for about $2,800.
The Bolero Wireless Intercom
It looks like a walkie-talkie… and then you start noticing extra features. This elegant, wireless and very portable intercom system started drawing industry attention when it was used on the set of The Mandalorian, and has since come into wide use on other large-scale projects.
It can connect a team of up to 250 people, and its cool features include six intercom channels and a “Reply” button to quickly reconnect with your last caller. Each beltpack can be used without a headset, like a walkie-talkie radio, or can be used with a Bluetooth headset or a smartphone.
Using a smartphone also allows you to operate it hands free, and to slide phone calls easily onto intercom channels, all with exceptional clarity. The Riedel BL-BPK-1006-19-US Bolero 6-key Beltpack with Color Display Intercom System sells for about $2,800. and this video highlights its ability to withstand accidents:
The Panasonic AK-PLV100
Powered by VariCam — Panasonic technology designed to provide the feel of motion-picture cameras — the AK-PLV100 is perfect for recording live events in a way that looks cinematic.
Yes, that sounds ambitious, but while shooting live events, you can set the camera to display green focus squares within the monitor to show you exactly what’s in focus. (The bigger and more squares, the better your image.) We had a lot of fun zooming around the Cine Gear rafters, in perfect focus.
The camera has a Super 35mm 5.7K sensor, baked-in options for a more filmic look that can even make live sporting events or concerts look like carefully-lit cinematic sequences. It’s designed to play seamlessly with Panasonic’s Kairos live video production platform for managing multiple screens and streams. It sells for about $39,900, so it’s probably a renter.
Motion Impossible’s Agito Dolly + Arri’s SRH360 Roams Cine Gear
We never got a stronger sense of “yup, we’re in the future now” than we did following around a robot-looking remote controlled apparatus that carried a Sony camera around the Cine Gear Expo floor, recording the crowds as a technician followed behind, operating it from several feet away.
Motion Possible, a UK company founded by BAFTA award-winning cameraman Rob Drewett and Remote Control expert Andrew Nancollis, provided the wheels and Arri’s SRH (that’s stablized remote head) kept the shots fluid and elegant. The arrangement was provided by Xizmo Media, a New York-based company that specializes in renting drones for all types of filming, from aerial footage to concerts.
Here’s the Agito in action recording an Ava Max show:
Main image: The focus squares of the Panasonic AK-PLV100.