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The tools of the film trade

Dazzling new filmmaking tools were the stars of a two-day conference at the Marriott Burbank Airport conference center.

Hundreds of film crew members and gear heads walked among the booths at the Createasphere digital technology exposition, where companies from across the globe — as well as Burbank’s own EVS and FilmTools — hawked software, digital cameras, stage lights and more.

“It’s nice to see the local companies as well as the larger companies,” said Nick Lampke, who works for FilmTools, a Burbank firm that sells everything from gaffer tape to cameras.

The expo is a smaller cousin to major events such as the annual National Assn. of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas or Cine Gear Expo at Paramount Studios. Many people said they appreciated the more manageable atmosphere.


“We have a really good mix of folks here, from the education sector to video production,” Ian Yeh of Ross Video Ltd., said.

He was showing off his company’s production switchers — control panels that facilitate real-time shifts from one camera or data feed to another. His target market ranges from sports facilities that use Jumbotron screens to TV newsrooms, and even large religious congregations.

“Mega-churches have sizeable production capabilities,” Yeh said.

Pamela Rosenberg and Moana Sherill of Hemisphere Productions, an independent TV production company in L.A., came to check out the new gear, with an eye on digital-storage systems.


Rosenberg said her company may need a storage upgrade as it starts work on a new TV show. When asked what the show was, Hollywood’s curtain of silence came down.

“Can’t say,” she smiled.

Vendors said attendees were serious about their gear, making the show rewarding.

“Yesterday was pretty good,” Blair Paulsen said Thursday.

Paulsen runs 4K Ninjas, which provides gear and onsite post-production expertise to commercial makers and other clients.

“I met with some real players, people I’ll have meetings with,” he said.

Mark Blaker of Manfrotto, which makes cameras and accessories, came from Hong Kong for the show and said he was pleasantly surprised at the attendees’ know-how.

“The traffic coming through here has been really high-quality,” he said.


Off the floor, the thousand-plus attendees went to mixers designed for aficionados of digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, cameras, as well as sessions on creative camera shots and cutting-edge 3-D products.

The gear is the fastest-changing part of the business, giving amateurs and independent producers capabilities they only dreamed about a few years ago.

“What used to cost you a couple hundred thousand dollars, now you can get it with $800 software and a $5,000 camera,” said Richard Threadgill of Grass Valley, a Northern California maker of video equipment and software. “It’s pretty crazy.”