The Daily Variety ShowBiz Expo, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center,
June 22-24, 2000 can be critiqued best by comparing it with the one held
the year before.
- Both the number of vendors and the floor space were smaller by
40%. Last year's had a very large separate room that had a lot
of smaller mom-and-pop vendors. This year's had only the biggest
players- all in the main hall.
- Sony's 24P camera, Panavision lenses, and a 24P-based projection
systems replaced the presentation area occupied last year by Kodak,
which was nowhere to be found at this year's event. Last year,
you could sit down in a screening area and see demonstrations of
different types of Kodak film stock. This year the digital
revolution took over. With FilmFX plug-ins available for your
favorite non-linear editing system, having a film-look can be as
specific as you want it to be - but, you can decide after you
shoot - in post! The writing is on the wall for Kodak.
Perhaps that's why they didn't even show up. Panavision has
adapted their 35mm film lenses to the Sony 24P camera and will survive
the transition. Major rental houses are already stocking Sony's
24P cameras. Once digital projection systems become common
(prediction - two years), distributors will deliver their films
digitally. If film is not used in shooting and not used for
prints, Kodak may find itself with no presence in the film
community beyond owning the building where the Oscars are held. Perhaps they will buyout Lexmark and become a bigger
player in the inkjet printer business, which will continue to prosper
as digital still cameras get more affordable and archive inks more
common. Kodak buying the Pantone company and gaining licensing
revenues during what will be a very colorful decade - may be worth
- Nowhere to be found were some vendors from last year that are
players in the non-linear editing arena:
- Adobe (Premiere and AfterEffects)
- Apple (FinalCut Pro)
- ProMax, the Orange County vendor of turn-key Apple non-linear
systems, a big hit in 1999, no aqui. I bet they are cranking out
so many G4-based systems that there was little advantage in
- Play, who makes the Trinity system, were not present. Last
year they demonstrated a wonderful live blue-screen broadcast
capability. Maybe they are putting their marketing
dollars into the Webcasting tradeshows.
- Scaled down presence - Avid. From their last 52-week
dismal stock performance and their market share erosion, due to Apple
FinalCut Pro and Adobe Premiere continued successes, I predict that
Adobe will buy out Avid within the next 12 months. Adobe needs
the high-end and no one will buy Avid PC or Mac-based products when
they can buy FinalCut Pro that includes a lot of the same powerful
features - but, at a tenth of the cost. My guess is that Adobe
will buy it and call it Premiere Pro and sell it at the price of
- Movie Magic, who used to have a great Screenwriter 3.0 to Budget and
Scheduling path, sold their budget and scheduling modules (as well as
their trademark, in those instances) to Creative Planet, who have
turned it into an Internet-based hosting service using Adobe Acrobat
PDF files. Their subscription license model of $299 per year and
their hosting services change the nature of the product to the point
of being great for studio heads who want to see how the shoot is going
cost-wise, but it's terrible for the independent producer who has a
Movie Magic Screenwriter script and wants to import it into a Budget
and Scheduling module. It use to have easy integration
capabilities that reduced problems that came about when the
script changes. This loss of ability is a huge step backwards
for what I see as little gain, especially considering the yearly
license expense and the awkward PDF format. At least they could
have stayed HTML. Oh, well.
- There was a huge blue-screen demonstration area that was always
active. People stood still and in front of the blue-screen and
were compositted into a scene behind a pulpit in a church.
Printouts of the rendered images were given to the participants.
- Mole Richardson had an expanded display of XL1 filter sets.
- There was a dolly tracking system that one vendor displayed that
consisted of a camera dolly on angled rollers and a long and carefully
placed black tube (in parallel), that made for an easy rolled-up rail. Makes
me want to go to Home Depot and and see what I can whip up.
- Monster.com, the behemoth online employment service was here this
year in a very big way. As the film industry spans more and more
of the world, below-the-line production people are joining the ranks
of all other groups and are being handled by companies like
Monster.com. There were also a few other similar services vying
for share of mind. Monster.com had by far the biggest booth/show
ShowBiz Expo, while fun and educational, presented no new whamo
offerings. It did however restate in demonstrations what we already
may have gathered from statements by Mike Figgis ("Time Code")
as well as George Lucas (regarding the next "Star Wars"), that
digital video shooting is here and relevant for film production.
At next year's event, I hope to see the non-linear players back with
larger presentation areas. If these vendors don't return, ShowBiz
Expo will be a show for expendables, cranes, camera and lighting demos, location commissioners. and
honey wagons - something that will surely reduce the attendance to
the most important film business event of the year. Credit
continues to go to Daily Variety for putting in the effort to make it as
good as it is. I'm looking forward to next year's
already. See you there.
James E. Tessier