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Daily Variety's ShowBiz Expo, June 2000 - Trip Report

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 considering.
  • 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)
    • Maya
    • Autodesk
    • 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 attending.
    • 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 FinalCut Pro. 
  • 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.
  •, 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  There were also a few other similar services vying for share of mind. had by far the biggest booth/show area.  

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 editor


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Copyright 2000  James E. Tessier. All Rights Reserved.