BSC Expo 2018: Show Highlights

The BSC Expo took place last weekend for another year, and did so repeating venue due to the success of the last edition at Battersea Evolution.

The show, which is organised by the British Society of Cinematographers, is a staple event in the industry where the latest advancements and trends in professional equipment for TV and film productions are announced, and the latest technologies and innovative products and services are showcased. Attended by top-tier manufacturers, high-profile professionals and enthusiasts alike, the event is the perfect occasion to network, keep up to date with information about the industry and even expand one’s knowledge.

This was especially possible thanks to the seminar programme that took place over the two days, where cinematographers and technology specialists covered different topics in both creative and technically-driven presentations.

Relative to the former, the highlight event was the seminar hosted by John de Borman BSC which included a panel comprised of world-class cinematographers Barry Ackroyd BSC, Guillermo Navarro ASC, Jose Luis Alcaine AEC and Mátyás Erdély HSC, who discussed their approaches to the craft and how their nationalities and upbringing may have influenced their work and vision.

Another very interesting and informative seminar was the conversation hosted by Vanessa Whyte with cinematographers Kate Reid and Petra Korner, who talked about their creative approaches to shooting drama, both for TV and feature films, their preparation routines before a job and their working relationships with other key production members, such as the director or producer.

The seminars and masterclasses related to technology and technical aspects included presentations from ARRI, Panavision, Fujifilm, FilmLight, Sony, Zeiss, RED, Mission Digital and Mytherapy.

It was precisely on one of these talks where ARRI gave in-depth details about their new large-format camera system, unveiled at the beginning of the first day.

The Alexa LF (Large Format), their first 4K camera, has a slightly larger sensor than full frame and comes with the new LPL mount (Large Positive Lock). According to ARRI, these two features open an array of possibilities. With the large format sensor, the camera can record in three different settings. The first, LF Open Gate, uses the full size of the sensor and records in true 4K. ARRIRAW is therefore available, though this requires a Codex drive due to the large amounts of data this mode produces, making it also tough to handle it in post. The next mode –in 16:9- informally dubbed “The Netflix mode”, records in 3840×2160, the minimum resolution admitted by Netflix as 4K. With this mode, ARRI intends to join the competition to have their new cameras working on Netflix productions, which are becoming more and more popular, against the cameras that are being used currently from manufacturers such as RED and Panasonic. The last mode, perhaps the most interesting out of the three, is in 2.39:1 and allows for anamorphic recording without the need of a 4:3 aspect ratio or image de-squeezing.

This system is also comprised of a new set of lenses, the ARRI Signature Primes, whose selling point is a shallower depth of field with an improved bokeh due to the LPL mount, that makes faces look better. Thinking of maintaining compatibility with current lenses from third-party manufacturers, ARRI have designed an LPL to PL adapter, allowing to continue to use both Super 35 and Full Frame PL lenses. In addition, the camera has completely functional built-in wireless, ready for monitoring and lens control. ARRI accessories stay perfectly compatible with this camera and so do the current workflow solutions for post-production. All of these advantages come at a price of course, one of the camera’s main disadvantages with the camera rounding £80k for purchase, along with its heavy weight around 8kg.

16 large-format ARRI Signature Prime lenses

But ARRI weren’t the only ones displaying large format. In fact, this could be identified as the trend that the industry and camera manufacturers are likely going to follow, according to what could be seen at the show.

Panavision also unveiled a new full frame camera, the DXL2. The camera, built in conjunction with RED, features RED’s 8K Monstro sensor and includes all of the REDCODE recording codecs. This camera offers a dynamic range of 16+ stops, a native ISO of 1600, a wider colour gamut, and ProRes 4K up to 60 fps. The camera comes with a built-in Preston MDR, which readily facilitates lens control. It is also possible to introduce flare with spherical lenses thanks to its anamorphic flare attachment (AFA).

Despite of their collaboration with Panavision, RED brought their newest Weapon cameras to the show, exhibiting them with all three different sensors: the Monstro 8K Full Frame, the Helium 8K Super 35 and the Dragon 6K Super 35. The body of the Weapon, much smaller in size in comparison to the DXL2, allows for easy mounting onto gimbals, drones and other types of handheld shots. Much like the LF, the Weapon also comes with built-in wireless peripherals and control and offers an array of lens mounts to make it as compatible as possible.


Sony, the last of the full frame competitors at the show, also had their latest Venice camera on display, unveiled long before ARRI’s LF and Panavision’s DXL2. This 6K camera, similar in size to the latest REDs, offers several recording modes such as full frame, anamorphic, widescreen spherical 2.39:1 or Large Format Scope, as well as Super 35 17:9 and 16:9. The camera also features a Dual Native ISO of 500 and 2500 and a high speed readout sensor which minimizes “jello” effect.

Even though full frame developments mainly “stole” the show this year, other highlights included Hawkwoods’ Mini V-Lok batteries, Bright Tangerine’s products -mainly showcased as accessories on other products as they didn’t have their own stand- and Kino Flo’s LED tubes prototype lighting.







Finding Voice through Words

Voice is an odd concept. It’s elusive, slippery, hard to hold between two firm hands and define. It’s even harder to describe. Yet for scriptwriters, it’s everywhere. It’s tossed about in blog posts, praised (or condemned) in film reviews and loosely referred to in interviews. Voice is clearly a determining factor in every writer’s style, something that can make or break you, but… what is it?

Going back to basics, voice doesn’t refer to our actual spoken voices. It’s more of a metaphor to represent our individual style and tone as a writer. It’s something distinctive that no amount of mimicking or studying can truly replicate. Voice is your own distinctive personality that shows up through your writing – it could be inherent, it’s definitely environmental and purely exclusive. Put it this way, if you gave three writers the same plot device, the same character and antagonist and told them to write out the same idea, three very different stories would still emerge. Be it vocab choice, technical prowess, sentence structure or dialogue, those three voices would differ to the point of opposition.

This is because everyone’s voice is different.  The following are steps to develop your voice.

1. Be Honest and Experiment

Honesty is an important factor. I don’t mean that everything you write should be honest to the point of memoir nonfiction, but you should write from experience. If you tap into your own emotions for fictional situations, your writing will be powerful- it usually is when a writer’s experience filters through, it’s noticeable in the quality. Even if it’s just a sentiment that you empathise with your protagonist because you’ve experienced it, the reader will sense the power behind your words and feel the punch it packs. Your imagination will fill in the rest of the gaps for you.

2. Know Thyself

This goes hand in hand with the whole honesty thing. If you want a distinctive voice, you need to know what you care about. You must take note of how you notice the world, your own perspective, your own beliefs about things you might not even have thought about noticing before. What is your take on religion? Or death? How do you think people experience betrayal? How would you experience betrayal? Thinking about your own reactions to situations that don’t arise in everyday life will help you develop your voice.

Your voice will be most distinctive when you’re writing about something that fires you up. Take Gillian Flynn, for example, writer of Gone Girl and its film adaptation. Her infamous cool girl description, which she admitted to writing as part of an exercise to clear her thoughts, was something that came from within and poured out of her in a moment of deep reflection. She developed her voice by writing what she truly felt, what she knew.

The actual passage goes a little something like this:

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool  Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding.

Flynn’s voice focusses on the darker aspects of humanity through a very casual, conversational style which is at once readable and thrilling.

3. Be Inspired by writers

It’s okay to mimic your favourite writers’ style because you love their voice. Chances are, you like them so much because you share certain aspects of voice. This is an excellent way to outgrow a certain style and create your own distinctive voice, by moving beyond what you loved about them.

Write out a passage of someone you love, try to understand the dynamics of that sentence. Is it the structure, the length, the vocab choice? All those things? Analyse and maybe write something that is similar in tone and voice. Frank Darabont, for example, loved horror when he was younger – inspired of course, by Stephen King, and this shared passion helped him develop his own voice in drama.

His love of the author’s work was a defining turnstile when it came to voice, as he went on to adapt Stephen King’s short story into the Shawshank Redemption. He even broke the golden rule of show, don’t tell by using Red to narrate. This technique was a driving force of the story, and a real defining mark of Darabont’s writing voice.

RED (V.O.)

               I must admit I didn’t think much of

               Andy first time I laid eyes on him.

               He might’a been important on the

               outside, but in here he was just a

               little turd in prison grays. Looked

               like a stiff breeze could blow him

                over. That was my first impression

               of the man.


               What say, Red?



               Little fella on the end. Definitely.

               I stake half a pack. Any takers?


               Rich bet.


Darabont’s voice, portrayed through the characters is immensely rich and distinctive– it takes talent to write like this, and a unique voice to portray something so realistically.

4. Voice through Collaboration

Collaborating is not everyone’s cup of tea. Especially if you’re shy or self-conscious about your work. But it is true that collaboration is a fast-track ticket to developing your own voice, in more ways than one. First, you use your real voice to agree, disagree, voice your thoughts so that all in all, you become a more critically aware writer. You end up knowing what you like, what works for you and what doesn’t.

Even if you’re two writers with two very different voices and you end up clashing, the process will still have been positive. At least now you have a more defined awareness of your voice, whereas before you might not have been able to pinpoint it. Besides, if you know your writing partner well, and there is a certain degree of trust between the two of you, then harsh criticism and constructive feedback can be some of the most effective solutions to developing voice.

Wes Anderson, for example, developed his unique voice and style through his collaboration partners. He wrote Bottle Rocket, Rushmore and the Royal Tenenbaums alongside actor Owen Wilson, with whom his decades-spanning friendship produced a great number of projects. After this, Anderson’s voice was further punctuated in Darjeeling Limited, blew fans away with Moonrise Kingdom, both of which he wrote alongside Roman Coppola. His latest and perhaps most popular script, The Grand Budapest Hotel, was written alongside close friend Hugo Guinness, so it’s easy to assume Anderson’s voice is forever flourishing and developing throughout this collaborative process.


The nine other guests of the hotel each observed from a respectful distance: a frail student; a fat businessman; a burly hiker with a St. Bernard; a schoolteacher with her hair in a bun; a doctor; a lawyer; an actor; and so on.


What few guests we were had quickly come to recognize one another by sight as the only living souls residing in the vast establishment — although I do not believe any acquaintance   among our number had proceeded beyond the polite nods we exchanged as we passed in the Palm Court and the Arabian Baths and onboard the Colonnade Funicular. We were a very reserved group, it seemed — and, without exception, solitary.


As you can see, Anderson’s voice is delightfully debonair. It’s quirky and idealistic. Classic and polished. Some say his voice speaks five degrees beneath reality, but isn’t that what makes him so appealing?

A unique writing voice is something that makes your script stand out – it’s as natural as your own personality, rare as your own individual imprint. Voice takes time and effort to develop, but it’s something (the main thing, really) that your readers, viewers and future fans will learn to recognise. To familiarise themselves with. And to crave.