ETECS 2012 featuring Shane Hurlbut
Once a year Snader and Associates (snader.com) hosts the Emerging Technologies Expo and Communication Summit at the San Mateo Event Center. So, every year, I hop on CalTrain to check out this free gear-gasm. I was especially excited to go this year, because one of my favorite filmmakers, Shane Hurlbut, was giving a talk about DSLRs. The convention hall is filled with vendors pushing everything from cameras, to monitors, to lights, and everything in between. It’s a great way to check out some of the new equipment and services.
Camera Shootout with the Canon C300
Before I went anywhere else, I went to the camera shootout. It’s always packed by 11, so I wanted to get some quality time on the cameras before the crowds started showing up. I knew the Canon C300 (canon.com) would be there, and I was blown away by the versatility of this camera. When you compare it to other cameras at the same price point (F3, HPX3100, etc (which are also great cameras that I would love to have and work with)) the advantages just stack in the C300’s corner; at least for me anyway. For shooters looking to upgrade from the DSLR field, into something of a higher grade, the C300 is a reasonable jump. It’s a fantastic cinematic camera that shoots well in low light, has great depth of field, and an amazing color range. On top of having a similar shooting style to DSLRs, the C300 also shoots to CF Card and can use the same glass as the 5D/7D; which means there isn’t a lot of upgrading of your post workflow and you don’t need to invest in a new set of glass.
Monitors: Marshall Electronics vs. TV Logic
Like most field shooters, I use monitors to make sure that those that need to see the action, can. ETECS had two monitor makers that I was really interested in: Marshall Electronics (marshall.com) and TV Logic (tvlogic.com). Marshall is a brand that I know well. I’ve used a variety of their audio and monitoring products, so I was excited to see if they had anything new… they didn’t. TV Logic is a brand that I’ve heard a lot about, but never actually used. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of their product. A proper comparison of the two would look like this; Field Monitor: Marshall, Rack Mounted Monitor: Tv Logic. While TV Logic has field monitors, I feel that Marshall has more variety with more input/output options. The Marshall field monitors also feel more durable; plus they have HDMI Loop Through, which is essential for DSLR shooting. But, Marshall doesn’t even get close to TV Logic’s rack mount monitors. The crispness and color quality of the TV Logic rack mounted monitors is absolutely stunning.
Lighting: LitePanels vs. FloLights
LED lights are all the rage right now. They’re cool to the touch, don’t use a lot of power, and have high ranges of output. ETECS had two manufacturers with LED lights that are worth mentioning: LitePanels (litepanels.com) and FloLights (flolights.com). Both are great brands with unique product lines. LitePanels is a powerhouse when it comes to LED lighting. They are perceived to be the biggest, most professional brand of LED lights. Their Sola Series is probably the best LED fresnel light on the market. Their one downside: price. Their Sola 4 light will run you upwards of $1100. One alternative to LitePanels is FloLights. Based out of Campbell, Ca (which makes them a local company for me), FloLights offers both fluorescent and LED style lights. They a have a remarkable product, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. A four-light kit (4 1×1 lights with total 4000 watt output) that would cost over $10k at LitePanels is only $4k from FloLights.
Shane Hurlbut on the DSLR Revolution
Beyond being an amazing Director of Photography, Shane Hurlbut (imdb.com) is a terrific speaker and educator. I had the privilege of watching him speak at ETECS this year. Before I get into it, let me just say that Shane speaks with the enthusiasm and energy of a stand-up comic; which made the lecture very enjoyable to watch. Shane was at ETECS to discuss the power of DSLR filmmaking. He showed clips from his new feature, Act of Valor (imdb.com), and talked about how most of the shots and sequences in the film would’ve been impossible to shoot on any other camera. They allowed him to minimize crew, shoot more in less time, and get angles that have never been used before. A lot of Act of Valor was shot in first person, and form the clips I saw, it has a similar feel to playing Call of Duty.
Part of what I really liked about his lecture was that he didn’t knock on other cameras. Instead, he showed how multiple types of cameras (DSLR. C300, Alexa, and traditional film cameras) can be used in conjunction. The end of the talk touched on the C300, and how he’s come full circle with DSLRs (shooting on them in their infancy, through maturity, and now on the C300). I respect Shane’s work a lot; and one of my key lighting principles I learned from him (light in layers). I can’t wait to see Act of Valor when it comes out on February 24th.
Convention season is well underway. Already we’ve seen amazing new technology at CES, new app developments at MacWorld, and now I’ve seen some awesome new gear (all of which I want to get) from the Snader Emerging Technologies Expo and Communications Summit. Seeing Shane Hurlbut speak was an added bonus that made ETECS a can’t miss for me this year. The rest of convention season should be a fun experience, and all of it culminates in Las Vegas for the NAB Show in April. Until then, I’ll be trying to get my hands on some this awesome gear.