Once again I'm a short time from being thrown out of the press room for another year, so here's a quick wrap up of things I've seen over the past few days.
First, spotted in the wild, our own M. David Mullen, shown shortly after appearing on a panel sponsored by the ASC:
He gathered a larger crowd than either Tom Green or Penn Jilette, who appeared in this lineup of somewhat well-known people on another panel discussion of what I guess we'll have to call disruptive media:
This was sponsored by Newtek and included rather disturbing amounts of mutual agreement that the end was nigh for conventional media and we're doomed to a future of what's rather charitably called user generated content on youtube. While I have no objection to videos of skateboarders being greviously maimed and cats falling over, I'm one of those people who rather likes production values, so I find all this rather disturbing.
What's also slightly strange is this:
These are the LED flat panels which are being widely discussed. They didn't know about TLCI (a more accurate colorimetry assessment than CRI) when I asked. They're also not that bright, being a four square foot light source being driven by only 50W of LEDs. Not unusable, or anything, but not exactly a small star in a box, either. And despite their claims of hand-picked consistency, I notice that the four panels in their two-by-two rig actually weren't entirely consistent, with visible output mismatch. Somehow they've managed to get themselves onto the Band Pro stand and they've got all the high end ASCs talking about them, but I don't think there's any reason to believe they have any particularly greater level of technology than anyone else. It's just a TFT backlight without the TFT on the front, and despite their claims to the contrary, until I see a spectrometry done I shall continue to believe that they're subject to exactly the smae white LED limitations as everyone else.
By way of comparison, shipping in the next few months is Zacuto's comparable "Plazma Light", which we've seen before at IBC but which certainly does have new technology. To recap briefly, it's a xenon discharge light, which is difficult because xenon emits a different spectrum than the mercury that's used in fluorescent tubes, so making the phosphors is more complicated and hasn't been developed nearly as much. This is interesting as a movie light, but it's also interesting in a wider sense as it would be really, really nice to be able to make xenon fluorescent tubes for more everyday applications too.
Finally, of course, the toast of the show:
Despite a lot of whining from people that you can't tilt (you can, it's externally controlled, they're talking about making it a thumbswitch) this is interesting for several reasons. First, it makes it obvious that the success of things like Steadicam is more due to the gimbal than the arm, which is well known in the field but not quite so well known outside it. This has no stabilizing arm and produces results that're closer to well-operated steadicam than you'd anticipate. They have apparently put it on a Steadicam arm, which makes a certain amount of sense as one of the bugbears of steadicam operating is the maintenance of a level horizon. I think it may make even more sense for UAV (that is, quadrotor) pilots, who have to contend with the necessary and inevitable pitch excursions of the aircraft as it moves around. Only a big quadrotor would accommodate it, though, and it seems unlikely that the technology could be extended sufficiently - at least in a handheld format - to work well with full size production cameras.
Now, sadly, I have to go. I'll be in LA for a week if anyone wants to say hi, although I shall probably be asleep for the next seventy-two hours.