The BSC Expo has drawn to a close for another year, there were more exhibitors squeezed into Battersea Evolution, so many in fact that the whole registration and bag check had to be moved outside into a temporary structure. Visitor numbers were higher than ever before with over 5,600 attendees, obviously it’s not just the numbers that made it a great show, if you followed any of the #bscexpo hashtags on social media you will have seen the huge amount of love shown for the expo.

The cine and tv production world is a strong community and these kind of events provide a valuable chance to get together, share knowledge and catch up with old friends and discover new kit. Add to that the quality of the seminars and roundtables organised by the BSC and it becomes a unique opportunity to learn as well. The queues for Roger Deakins and James Deakins ‘in conversation’ predictably snaked right through the hall, people were nudging each other as he walked through the show as if he was a film star, which I guess to a degree he is.

We recorded around twenty five interviews for BSC Expo TV. Some of them continued the conversations we started at Cinec back in October 2018, in others we started new discussions. These conversations are what we are all about, we’re not a newspaper or magazine reporting on individual developments or products, The Cine Eye all about those wonderful discussions, conversations, opinionated disagreements, subjective arguments and impassioned views that you can hear everywhere when you walk through a show like this.

Cinematography is art, it can never be reduced to a formula or be explained in dull dry terms. It is story telling in the grandest vistas or the most intimate and personal, a collision of incredibly technical and expensive equipment with the desire to entertain the viewer. The equipment in this hall must have been worth over £5 million at the very least, brought here by companies that have invested decades in R&D and production. But they are just the tools used to tell a story.

What wonderful tools though! Deep down there is a gear nerd in all of us. Though judging by some of the excited squeals I heard around some stands that inner nerd is not repressed very well at all. We saw some utterly brilliant equipment; cameras that continue to push what is possible whilst getting more ergonomic and featured around the user rather than the technology. Lenses that take everything good from heritage glass and combine it with cutting edge tech. Grip, stabilisation and movement that offers bold new ways to tell those stories. Then of course the relentless developments in lighting are nothing short of revolutionary.

I have to admit that I am a complete nerd when it comes to all of this, so it was really painful to not be able to spend much time on the show floor whilst we were doing the BSC Expo tv interviews, all day both days, inevitably we could only scratch the surface of what was at the show – However we did get to see some amazing people and share in their stories. One of the most heartening was with Scott Howell and Lyndsey Rodriguez from Cinemoves. We interviewed them at Cinec talking about the groundbreaking Matrix 4 gimbal head, since then they have secured worldwide distribution for the product and been honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Society of Camera Operators for technical achievement. They have such a good attitude to making things work, collaboration rather than competition and sharing knowledge rather than hoarding it for advantage. Plus they are just really nice, decent people and were truly humbled by the award.

Some personal highlights:

We are editing the interviews ready to upload to our Youtube channel (subscribe to make sure you don’t miss them), here are some of my personal highlights from the twenty plus that we did:

In the camera department we had Balazs Bolygo talking to us about the Sony VENICE, he’s been using for over a year and really likes what he can do with it. This also demonstrated the way that Sony have really listened to the users in the design from the ground up. Canon also have a hot contender in the full frame market with the C700 and they brought along Brett Danton a DP who had recently used this and the C200 to shoot a car commercial in Abu Dhabi. A pretty harsh environment, but the cameras withstood the incredible heat and sand getting everywhere. We talked full frame with ARRI and Panavision, in fact we brought it up a lot to gauge peoples perceptions of it becoming the norm – more on that soon!

It is always a pleasure to sit down with Les Zellan, Cooke were debuting the 50mm anamorphic/i prime with their unique Special Flare coating. Zeiss, P+S Technik and Sigma talked us through their latest offerings, all full frame of course. Out on the show floor there were countless other lenses to get to grips with, I noticed the Tokina Vista range on the Cintek stand which are worth checking out. Up on the mezzanine CVP had a very impressive ‘Lens Bar’ where you could test every lens that they stock, in actual fact they had brought everything from Newman and Charlotte Street, rumour had it that the floor started to bow under the weight of visitors they had…

Michael Cioni of Panavision is a really interesting guy, his passion for HDR draws you in, not least from the way he manages to make a pretty complicated subject easy to grasp.

It’s not just gear at the BSC Expo of course, it is also a celebration of the art of cinematography. We had some really interesting conversations with DPs about their work, and also their opinions on the tools at their disposal to tell stories. They do say that you should never meet your heroes, but interviewing Guillermo Navarro was a real pleasure. His unique vision is stamped on so many great films, most of which are on my list of all time favourites (From Dusk Till Dawn, Hellboy I & II, Desperado, Pan’s Labyrinth to pick just a few), so to be able to talk to him personally about his approach to filming was amazing (Huge thanks to @reddigitalcinema for making it possible).

Talking to BSC members Kate Reid, Tim Palmer and Nic Knowland was great fun. Finding out about an individuals approaches to cinematography is one of the most interesting things, add to that their opinions on equipment and we got some insightful interviews. We interviewed the next generation of cinematographers in the form of Diana Olifirova and Simona Susnea, members of the brilliant illuminatrix rising.

There was so much more we could have done, if the expo had been 5 days long we might have got to talk to everyone. We are in something of a golden age for this craft, cinema attendance is rising, streaming has raised the bar for production, and technology enables new ways of telling these stories. What a wonderful time to be a part of it.

Iain Hazlewood