New gadgets improve the shooting life

Latest technology features HD cameras, webcasting adaptability

In the past year alone, many new digital tools have come to the aid of aspiring filmmakers everywhere. At this year’s Show Bix Expo, vendors will be offering the latest in affordable, versatile new products. Here are some that will grab attention this weekend:

Panasonic’s AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema (Booth 1200) is this years premiere product, bringing HD cameras into a new era of adaptability.

It allows cinematographers to capture 24-frame, high-definition, progressive scanned images with film-like sensitivity — as well as a wide range of other frame rates. Camera cats can go 4 to 33-fps (in one frame increments) 36-fps, 40-fps and 60-fps, providing the capability to overcrank or undercrank the camera to achieve fast or slow-motion effects. This is the first time this traditional film technique has been applied to a high-def digital camera system.

With these features, the camera is designed for use in a wide range of media, from commercials to documentaries, from television to theatrical release films.

The camera’s progressive images can be directly converted to film avoiding unnecessary frame rate conversions. The AJ-HDC27V can also create “motion-blur” and “warp-speed” special effects in real-time by shooting at very low frame rates without shutter.

Pushing the age of HD camera capabilities even further is Innovision Optics, Inc which is introducing the High Definition Probe Lens System through Century Precision (Booth 1439). It’s the first-of-its-kind long tubular lens system made specifically for HD production. The system’s unique interchangeable straight and 90 degree periscope attachments allow the operators to shoot from an ultra low perspective. The HD Probe is waterproof up to 10 inches from the front lens, and is ideal for HD productions including table top and close up electronic cinematography.

The HD Probe lens system incorporates a 15-inch long lens barrel with a diameter of just 1.7-inches (42mm). Five prime lenses (5mm, 7.5mm, 9mm, 12.5mm and 18mm) are interchangeable at the front mount. The lens is built from the finest glass elements and relay optics for images with remarkable edge-to-edge sharpness, flat field, and extreme depth of field. Multiple lens coatings provide sharp, low dispersion images.

To assist in keeping the images shot on bigger shows organized, Cinelogic, Inc. (Booth 1324) is releasing updates of its Cinelog software and Cinerecorder video-assist recording computer. The updates will allow for up to nine cameras to record simultaneously, with full resolution, and can then simulate any film speed from 2 to 800 frames per second. A comprehensive report generator, accurate speed-ramping, and innovative playback features have allowed filmmakers on the upcoming “Harry Potter” movie to reference and edit material quicker than ever.

Cotts. Inc. introduces its new Satellight-X HMI (Booth 1913) softlight, which features ballasts and switches that are fully-contained within the light. Without header cables, this flexible beacon can be backed into a tight corner, hung overhead, underslung or aimed from floor level. This also cuts down on set-up and wrap-up time, going from case to lights on in under three minutes for two crew members.

Sekonic (Booth 1813) will help make sure your foot-candles are in order before shedding light on your subject with its latest combination digital readout meter, the L-608 Cine.

The meter — its most advanced to date — incorporates a digital display in the zoom spot finder plus built-in diopter adjustment, an optional plug-in internal radio transmitter module that eliminates the need for cord connections while measuring flash up to 100ft away (when flash units are used with compatible radio receivers) and flash/ambient analyzing in all flash modes.

The L-608 can be tailored to the photographer’s preferred settings with 11 custom functions. Additional features include all-weather design, nine memory banks and audible buzzer for non-corded flash.

The Cinematography Electronics Cine Tape Measure (Booth 1638) helps to simplify a camera crew’s job in focusing. Measuring distance between subject and the camera becomes easier with this compact ultrasonic device which shows the distance in feet and inches or meters on an easy-to-read LED display.

In situations where the camera is mounted on a crane or in an isolated location, a remote display unit is available. The Cine Tape Measure system is small and lightweight, compatible with all film and video cameras, and easily mounts to cameras, support rods or matte boxes.

For those trying to film extreme water sports but hoping to avoid shaky camera results, Motion Picture Marine (Booth 1110) is introducing the Hydro Gyra digital stabilization head. Designed to mount between the tripod and fluid head in about five minutes, the system provides steady footage on water. It is also waterproof up to 30ft and can be vertical or underslung.

The unit can also be used to take the shake out of rough shooting on vehicles or even in mid air. A basic two-axis system as well as a three-axis system — which enables remote control of 360 degree panning, with target lock — are available. The Hydro Gyra system — used on the film “X-Men” — weighs 32 pounds, can handle lenses up to 550 mm in length and carries loads up to 150 pounds.

Webheads no longer need to go through the multiple steps of shooting images, capturing them into a system, editing and exporting to the web. The DivaX- iStream system from T.S. Microtech (Booth 1233) is a total solution for live web-casting, on demand web-streaming and non-linear editing systems all-in-one. With mobile systems the size of a suitcase, you are able to have your own web-casting station anywhere connecting to the available bandwidth on site even from a phone line. With training, almost anyone can edit a film in under three hours. Custom configurations can be created depending upon need.

Have the attempts to learn your new screenwriting programs proven futile? Script Werx (Booth 1118) can help. If you are already proficient in Microsoft Word, ScriptWerx seamlessly converts your MS program with 12 templates and three new toolbars.

Feature film, corporate and informational videos, live tape television and three-camera script formats are all available.

Also, the conversion makes it possible to draft story boards, write treatments, make shot lists, do teleprompter files, as well as create headers, footers and coversheets for finished scripts.

Case studies and examples of finished scripts are also included in the package. Script Werx is endorsed by Microsoft, with the company launching new versions each time they update their Word program for Windows. A new Mac version was released in January.

Finally, after all the film– or digitally taped footage — is in the can, Sonic Desktop Software’s Sonic Fire Pro (Booth 1333) improves on their already established SmartSound software to help add a blistering soundtrack.

The Sonic Fire Pro allows importing of multiple video formats, including DV, AVI, MPEG and QuickTime, and with a click of a button creates an accurately timed soundtrack. Now you don’t have to leave the program to see exactly how your soundtrack plays with the picture. Maestros can preview soundtrack ideas as you watch your video, or make changes and adjustments immediately as the footage plays.

Owners of the SmartSound program can upgrade to Sonic Fire Pro for less than buying the new software. CDs of royalty-free content are also included in the bundle.

Guerrilla filmmaking was never easier.