Exhibitors at the Media + Entertainment Tech Expo 2019, Wednesday 17 July 2019, ICC Sydney, Darling Harbour, Sydney

I dropped into the Media + Entertainment Tech Expo 2019 trade show component on its first day to catch up on recent developments in hardware and software from the point of view of the self-funded independent media producer that I am. 

METexpo, for short, is the rebranded and relaunched biannual conference and trade show exhibition formerly referred to as SMPTE, not to be confused with the Australian section of the organization known as SMPTE standing for Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. 

Although METexpo 2019 aimed to be more inclusive than previous SMPTE conferences and exhibitions, by  “focusing on all aspects of the industry that drives the ‘creation, distribution and consumption’ of media, entertainment and technology”, this year’s version was a much smaller affair than all the previous ones I had attended and many Australian and foreign brands and retailers were missing in action. 

Problems with the METexpo ticketing computer network meant that my exhibition pass could not be printed and thus could not be scanned. I got in the door by photographing the QR code in close-up and the door person scanned that successfully to her surprise. NOTE: Further captions for the images below coming soon.

Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens, equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to 20mm through to 50mm. This is the zoom lens I wanted when I invested in the Micro Four Thirds system but nothing like it existed back then. This lens can pretty much do it all for most documentary stills photography and video.

Andrew Chan of SLR Magic with one of the company’s MicroPrime cinema lenses for X-mount and M43-mount cameras variously made by Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and others. SLR Magic also makes an excellent 1.3 to 10 stop variable neutral density filter solution perfectly suited to the MicroPrimes with their 82mm filter diameter as well as adapted to smaller filter diameter lenses via step-up rings.
SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 25mm T1.3 M43-mount lens with SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 filter.
A luvverly collection of SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine lenses and SLR Magic anamorphic lenses, with admirers. Please make mine a complete set of MicroPrimes in Fujifilm X-mount, comprising 12mm, 15mm, 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm focal lengths. In 35mm sensor format terms, a set comprising 18mm, 22.5mm, 28mm, 37.5mm, 50mm, 75mm and 112.5mm, a near-perfect set of lenses for feature-style documentary and narrative moviemaking as well as stills photography in manual focus.
A luvverly collection of SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine lenses and SLR Magic anamorphic lenses, close-up.

Sigma stills and cinema lenses at the CR Kennedy section of METexpo 2019.

While previous SMPTE trade shows demanded at least one full day to get through all their exhibits, I found I could see everything of interest in the space of a morning due to the many no-shows this year.

I hope that future METexpos will see their exhibitor numbers climb back up but am wondering at the wisdom  of staging it every two years given the high pace of change within all the categories covered this year – “Audio Mixers, Audio Processing & effects, Audio Production, Cameras & Lenses, Capture Devices & Software, Cloud Technology, Delivery & DistributionDigital Solutions, Esports, IP Broadcast Solutions, Lighting, Microphones, Mobile/Vehicle Production, Motion Picture/Virtual Production, Motion Picture/Production, Networking Technologies, Post Production, Set Design/Props/Furniture, Workflow Solutions”.

Two important global Australian-based brands missing from METExpo 2019 were Blackmagic Design and Miller Tripods while the long list of other absent long-established and breakthrough companies in the media and entertainment technology aka MET space included Adobe, Canon, Dedolight, Dell, Dolby, Fujifilm, Hewlett-Packard, Pelican, Think Tank Photo, Vitec Group and its many brands, while Rotolight’s only inclusion this year was one boxed-up product on display in a vitrine in the CR Kennedy stand, a Rotolight Neo 2 HSS and continuous LED light unit.

I had particularly hoped to see, touch and try Blackmagic Design’s breakthrough Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K along with a range of suitable accessories, lenses and rigging, but was disappointed.

Meanwhile other brands of interest had much smaller displays of their products than usual and were minus the on-floor speakers and try-out displays of previous SMPTE trade shows.

A sad loss given the lack of all-in-one retailers in this country and especially Sydney, places where one can see, try and buy items of interest rather than going by word-of-mouth or Youtube reviews before placing back orders or ordering online from overseas.

One long-established MET trade show tradition that remained in full force is exhibitors’ tendency to ignore females on the show floor in favour of almost exclusively paying attention to the males of the species.

Useful if one is going about making documentary photographs as I was, standing up close to my subjects while they engage with each other and ignoring me as if I am invisible, but not so great if I wanted directly engage with exhibitors to ask questions and try out new items.

The METexpo 2019 modus operandi as I and a number of attendees I watched experienced it was essentially one of being left to our own devices to gaze into display cases or accost passing floor staff in search of answers about the items within.

I enjoyed a little face time, though, with Andrew Chan of SLR Magic, discussing his company’s range of MicroPrime cinema lenses in their Fujifilm X-mount and Micro Four Thirds mount versions as well as its apparently excellent SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 and 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhancer Filter Kit (pardon the long-winded product name!).

With Fujifilm taking Super 35 video production more seriously with its X-T3 and X-H1 cameras, and hopefully even more so with possible successors X-T4 and X-H2, the need for geared cinema quality prime lenses like SLR Magic’s MicroPrimes can only increase.

As a documentary person, 1.3 to 10 stops variable neutral density solutions like this one by SLR Magic are a must and even more so with recent cinema and video cameras having higher base ISOs than on previous generation hardware.

Given my other duties as a carer and limited funds I was unable to attend the METexpo 2019 conference and had to miss out on the Women In Industry Function and Women in Media and Technology Breakfast but hope that they may prove to be turning points for female inclusion and visibility in the MET industries and especially METexpo itself.

Tech Notes

I made all the photographs illustrating this article with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 equipped with a Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens kindly loaned to me by Fujifilm Australia’s PR consultancy, and also carried a loaner Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens as well as three of my own Fujinon lenses.

The 16mm lens’ fast back button focus and autofocus proved more useful in the circumstances than the much older 18mm lens, despite the 28mm equivalence of the latter being my all-time favourite focal length for immersive in-situ documentary photography and video.

I found that the 16mm “Fujicron” allowed me to quickly lean forward and back, left and right, in order to reframe my images as human elements constantly moved position relative to each other, and it proved quite a pleasurable experience.

Normally I would reserve the 24mm equivalence of 16mm for superwide establishing shots though I much prefer 21mm equivalent focal lengths for that purpose.

However, the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR’s width proved an asset under the trade show floor’s oftentimes difficult lighting and limited space and I rarely needed to crop my images to exclude extraneous details.

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  • FujifilmB&H
  • SLR Magic B&H
  • SLR Magic 82mm Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density 0.4 to 1.8 and 86mm Solid Neutral Density 1.2 Image Enhancer Filter KitB&H
  • SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine lensesB&H
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Opening Night, The 2019 Loud and Luminous Exhibition, St Leonards, NSW, Australia, April 11 2019

I attended the launch of the 2019 Loud and Luminous Exhibition by the Loud and Luminous collective of Australian women and non-binary photographers at Contact Sheet, “an education and mentorship space, a gallery and a co-working space” in the Sydney north shore suburb of St Leonards, located in a complex of creative spaces supported by TWT Developments, Building Hope Foundation and Brand X. 

This is the first time I have encountered these organizations and there may well be some intriguing stories and documentary subjects to be found within them. 

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The Guardian: How today’s female directors broke out of ‘movie jail’

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jan/31/female-directors-movie-industry-gender-discrimination

“Not one woman was nominated for this year’s best director Oscar. But some of the hottest forthcoming movies are female-led – so has gender discrimination in the industry been busted?…

… “I think you have a generation of women who will never know if they could have been successes because they never had the opportunity,” says Melissa Silverstein, founder of Women and Hollywood, which campaigns for diversity and equality. The factors preventing women from having sustained movie careers are numerous, Silverstein says. There is institutional sexism, conscious and unconscious, as well as motherhood….”

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National Geographic: How women photographers access worlds hidden from men

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/2019/03/how-women-photographers-access-world-hidden-from-men

“There are benefits to being a photographer who happens to be a woman: you’re welcomed into secret worlds, invited into homes, and trusted with the most delicate subjects. Then there are the downsides: fighting to be taken seriously by a male-dominated industry, entering dangerous and unpredictable situations, and tackling stereotypes about where women should go and the topics they should cover. We asked National Geographic’s women photographers from across the world for memories and reflections on how gender is intertwined with their work, the opportunities for young women coming after them, and the future of their field….”

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Screen Australia: Meet the 15 ACS Accredited Women

https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/sa/screen-news/2019/03-08-meet-the-15-acs-accredited-women

“We put a spotlight on these acclaimed Australian technicians – including their career highlights and how they shot them – as part of International Women’s Day.

To gain accreditation from the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) is no mean feat.

It requires a minimum number of years working within the industry and a body of work which represents not just that you can do the job, but with a level of creativity and innovation that exceeds the norm.

A sub-committee then assesses the work and from there you may be awarded your ‘letters’ – the ACS that appears after your name.

To date, 15 women have been awarded that elite title (only 5.6%), and the ACS hopes that will grow. As part of International Women’s Day, we celebrate their achievements, and hear in their own words about career highlights, cameras, lenses, and what draw them to cinematography (in order of accreditation year)….”

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BBC: International Women’s Day: Women behind the lens

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-47441572

“Photographers Jennifer McCord, Iulia David, Holly-Marie Cato and Amy Shore are leading the charge to get more women behind the lens. They will be passing on their knowledge at the Women Who Photo event to be held at The Photography Show in Birmingham.

Here we showcase a selection of their work and learn what inspires them….”

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The Guardian: Women battling sexism in photography – a picture essay

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/mar/07/women-battling-sexism-in-photography-a-picture-essay

“Push-ups and photography aren’t normal bed partners. But when Cybele Malinowski was starting out as a young photography assistant in 2005, she was told to do 100 push-ups a day. The reason? To “match the strength of a man”….

… As her career gathered pace, Malinowski battled discrimination beyond heavy gear. Often when she arrived on set, the client would assume that her male assistant was the photographer, or that she was the makeup artist or stylist. More recently, when she became pregnant, Malinowski suddenly found herself losing jobs: clients told her they feared she just wasn’t “up to it”….

… Trying to get sexism off the couch has become Malinowski’s mission. Last year she co-founded Agender, a platform for female photographers designed to exchange ideas and advance careers, with the former investment banker turned entrepreneur Angela Liang. Their second annual exhibition, Balance for Better, will open on 9 March to mark International Women’s Day, with 50% of sale profits donated to Sydney Women’s Fund.

“This exhibition, on the one hand, is held to celebrate women and it’s also trying to put a mirror up on the industry itself: [to say] look at these incredible women, why are they still a minority?” says Malinowski….”

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ELLE Australia: Make #IWD2019 Plans To Check Out Some Super-Cool Female Art

https://www.elle.com.au/culture/agender-female-photography-exhibit-sydney-march-2019-20024

“Want to spend International Women’s Day with your BFFs, taking in some ~art~ and toasting to female empowerment? If you’re in Sydney you’re in luck, because an exciting new (free) exhibition filled with work by local female artists is opening this week and running for the whole of March.

Agender, an Australian-based collective that champions the work of female photographers, is putting on its second annual International Women’s Day show. With work by established and up-and-coming artists including Anna Pogossova, Cybele Malinowski, Cara O’Dowd, Leila Jeffreys, Yasmin Suteja, Michele Aboud and Carlotta Moye (among several others), the exhibition will have its opening night on Friday March 8 from 6pm to 8.30pm, then run from March 9 – 31, at Sydney’s Sun Studios….”

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Broadagenda Blog: Loud and Luminous: Empowering female photographers

http://www.broadagenda.com.au/home/loud-and-luminous/

“…Women continue to be underrepresented in the photography industry – can you tell us about the Loud and Luminous project and how it attempts to address the imbalance? 

Loud and Luminous is a project that celebrates Australian women photographers. Our mission is to inspire and empower women and girls.

The project came about because myself and my co-creator of the project, Melissa Anderson were a bit frustrated with the photographic and visual arts industry and the fact that it was still male-dominated in many areas. We had read all these statistics about gallery representation for female artists, photojournalists in news media were mainly men, as were art directors in museums and galleries…so we wanted to do something positive….”

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