I’ve been to IBC once before, taking to the floor with Simon, Matt, Jon and the rest of the KitPlus team to assist with the filming of interviews. This was a lot of fun, but it was hard to find the time to look at the kit I wanted to see. This year with the demise of BVE and unable to make it to the Media Production Show I decided to fork out for a ‘research’ trip to IBC. In the spirit of full disclosure, I ought to note that I have two small children and a very busy work schedule, so the trip had nothing to do with escaping for a weekend of uninterrupted sleep and meal times (honest). Due to these commitments I could only manage one full day and a few hours the next day at the show so it was a lot to cram in trying to see everything I wanted to see!
With a growing video production business one thing you have to do is invest in kit. Some of the freelancers I work with tease me about the amount of money I spend on kit. But in making the leap from freelancer to fledgling production company in an industry that is constantly changing for me everything is about planning ahead for the future and having a strategy for growth. Central to this is investing in the right kit at the right time. So, here’s my quick pick of what was hot at this years’ show and my shopping list for the coming year.
First up and probably my highlight was the hotly anticipated Sony FX9 – the new FS7. For me it did not disappoint. I had the ‘unofficial’ official lowdown chat with Sony ICE Alister Chapman on the new camera. There are a whole sway of improvements on the original FS7; 16 bit RAW recording with the XDCA back, dual base ISO, proxy recording, TC on the camera body, impressive autofocus with compatible Sony E lenses, variable ND, Venice like colour science and of course that brand new full frame sensor with 15 stops of latitude. It’s great that Sony have kept all the mounting threads and holes in exactly the same place as the FS7, as well as the same memory cards and batteries so no need to buy new accessories for anyone upgrading. Unfortunately, the camera body is still quite long (not ideal for the gimbal) and I really hope Sony release an upgradeable viewfinder option and do away with the hideous loupe design they love so much!
Which brings me neatly to mention the other major camera release of the show, which does have a significantly better viewfinder option: Canon’s C500mkii. Now it’s probably more of an F55 owner type purchase since the specs with this camera when fully tricked out with all of the accessories at just over £20k are seriously impressive. There are some major improvements in design from Canon – upgradable (but sadly proprietary) viewfinder, removable rear viewfinder, 5.9k full frame sensor, versatile proxy recording and a well thought out interchangeable lens mount.
Will it be an FX9 killer? The short answer is probably no. The longer answer would be – well it depends on what you are delivering. Do you need 4:3 anamorphic? Full frame 6K? Cinema RAW light internal recording? Are you shooting nature in the wilderness for days on end? Might Canon drop the price next year? One thing’s for sure, the modular nature of this camera is very appealing and it’s great to see the form factor improving where Canon are concerned.
This year the key investment for my business has been in post-production. It’s probably the area where I have the most experience and when you shoot and edit your own content you almost certainly spend more time in the edit suite than you do on location or on set. On my post list was to check out the huge Blackmagic Design stand, the new Media Composer Ultimate, Flim Light’s BaseLight, LTO backup and finally to say hello to cloud platform folks Frame.io.
During the past seven or eight months I’ve been using cloud platform Frame.io for all client feedback and delivery, and also as a means of sharing content with freelancers working remotely. I stopped by and briefly said hello. If you haven’t heard of Frame.io then it’s time you did. At the time of writing they’ve just hired Panavision’s former SVP of innovation Michael Cioni. This is huge news and is affirmation that running with Frame.io is a good move for the future. They have a brilliant knowledge hub / blog full of post-production tips and essential technical information. I had an excellent demo of BaseLight which I’ve since purchased alongside Avid Media Composer Ultimate and really enjoying getting to grips with (it works really well with my Tangent Element panels). Finally, the least sexy thing on the list and in this roundup was checking out LTO 8 as a backup solution. I need a means of backing up large projects over a number of years and seeing it at the show validated for me that LTO 7 or 8 is going to fit the bill. This I plan to integrate into my Sonnet Echo Express III R to save on space in the suite.
Other bits of note.
The Arri Orbiter and its beautifully marketed new ‘six colour light engine’ seems to me to represent a step change in LED tech. With an amazing output and versatility, it will become a staple on well-funded productions for years to come much like the now ubiquitous Sky Panel. At the other end of the scale but asserting the fact that they are now a serious player there were some impressive new fixtures released by Aputure. Namely the LS300x, a bi-colour version of their 300D Mark II, albeit coming at a cost of significantly reduced brightness.
For the first time at the show were the Aussie duo Tom Waugh and Chris Fox who are Ignite Digi. I have already purchased most of the brilliantly engineered and manufactured gimbal accessories that these guys make so it was great to pop buy the Optical Support stand and say hello in person. They were showing a new battery system that provides power for all kinds of cameras and devices off the popular DJI TB50 batteries which they have called the TB50 Hammerhead. For anyone with the Ignite Digi adpaters and a Movi Pro / Ronin 2 and a supply of these batteries that’s an appealing piece of equipment. Also, on this stand the guys from Flowcine were showing a prototype of their new gimbal support system the Xpine Gimbal Vest which, for gimbal specialists, looks to be an interesting proposition. Finally, Bright Tangerine were also on this stand and they have manufactured a fabulous looking cage for the C500mkii. I had just ordered the top flag for my Misfit Atom so they furnished me with a tasteful t-shirt. Result.
So in summary from this very brief write up we can conclude that a single day is not enough time to fully take in everything that’s on offer and displayed at IBC, but you can pack in a lot. It really is very far reaching in scope. I haven’t had time to mention some of the other things that I checked out as I hot footed it around the show: Blackmagic’s ATEM Mini (cheap and cheerful), the new O’Connor 1040 head (pricey but very nicey), Canon Sumire primes (beautiful on the C500mkii), the Sigma Classic Series lenses, and some interesting new affordable anamorphic lenses. I will certainly be visiting again but next time I think I’d try and make it there for two days at least so that I can take in more of what’s on offer. The flights are cheap, the accommodation is expensive, but the beer is cold and the gear is hot. Go check it out for yourselves.