Follow-up Q&A for the Road to NAB Podcast: Pre-NAB Roundtable

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The following is a Q&A with the Pre-NAB Roundtable participants on the Final Road to NAB podcast. To listen to the podcast click here:

Pre-NAB 2008 Roundtable with Bogen Imaging

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music provided by Dead Girls Ruin Everything, Reignition Recordings

) Featured in the podcast and in this Q&A are Will Holowka, product manager of Manfrotto and Avenger, Doug Feldman, product manager of Kata, and Wayne Schulman, video sales manager at Bogen Imaging.


Will Holowka, Product Manager for Manfrotto and Avenger

Q: There are a lot of tripod manufacturers in the market all offering products that have three legs and hold a camera. What would make a professional or prosumer consider Manfrotto over the others?

A: Let's start with the tagline: Manfrotto – proven professional. That’s our new tagline for the year and it hits the nail right on the head. Manfrotto has a long history in the manufacture of high-quality photographic and video support products and has the proven track record with professionals in various fields. Manfrotto is an innovator and continually strives for perfection in every aspect of its business. Unfortunately, our innovation is often copied by the competition. Professionals and amateurs alike can depend on Manfrotto without hesitation.

Q: As you mentioned in the podcast, the new MPRO tripods are constructed of carbon fiber. With other carbon fiber tripods on the market can buyer's assume that all carbon fiber is the same, or what makes the Manfrotto carbon fiber different?

A: This is a great question. The use of composite materials in the manufacture of support products is nothing new in this industry, and unfortunately, many take carbon fiber for granted. Just because a tripod is manufactured using carbon fiber, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution for pro video applications. The decisive factor in the performance of a carbon fiber support solution is how it’s actually manufactured. Specifically for tripods, there are two main methods for producing a carbon fiber tripod leg/tube, and that’s the rolling table and pultrusion processes. The ideal process, that Manfrotto employs, is pultrusion. For manufacturing tubes, the pultrusion process increases rigidity and stability by using a woven tube design - the woven design is seamless. The majority of all tripods manufactured by our competition, namely those manufactured in China, utilize the roll table design which bonds sheets together with glue and then is rolled and seamed. Unfortunately, the seams which result from this method conduct shock and act as a stress point. The pultrusion method also increases torision rigidity, which is of paramount importance for video applications. Furthermore, Manfrotto utilizes nothing but 100% carbon fiber in the manufacture of all of its carbon fiber tripods. In order to cut costs, the competition typically uses a blend of carbon fiber and other composite materials, including fiber glass. This clearly sacrifices performance – something Manfrotto does not stand for.

Q: Why were the MPRO tripods developed with a single stage design? Is that for specific application purposes?

A: The single stage design of the MPRO series yields a significant savings in weight and offers a much more simple set up, which is ideal for ENG applications. Although these are lightweight tripods, the new 535 and 536 boast an impressive payload capacity of 44 lbs and 55 lbs respectively. The torsion rigidity of the MPRO series is also fantastic, eliminating the need for a mid-level spreader. Even more useful for ENG is the max and minimum height of the tripods. For example, in a situation where videographers are packed in like sardines, a height of 80 inches with the MPRO 536 will ensure that the shooter will be able to rise above the crowd and have an unobstructed view of their subject or event. The 536’s minimum height of 27� also gives shooters the ability to capture some low angle shots as well – something that typically required the use of a hi-hat.


Doug Feldner, Product Manager of Kata

Q: You mentioned that Kata will be launching some new camcorder guards at NAB, as will your competition–what differentiates Kata bags from the others?

A: Materials. One of the main materials used in the Digital Video Guard (DVG) products is TST. TST is short for Thermo Shield Technology. TST is designed into key areas of our bags and protective gear to reduced impact damage. In the DVG line, TST is molded to the shape of the camera. This ability to mold DVG is important, because with smaller HD camera, there is so little surface area without controls, that a molded solution was necessary.

Q: TST is only used in your DVG products?

A: Actually, almost every Kata product uses TST in some form. It is a superior way of protecting all types of gear from impact damage. By strategically placing TST at known impact zones on bags, we are able to provide maximum protection with minimum weight.

Q: Are the guards essentially for certain elements or situations, or are they constructed to remain on the camera for every environment? In addition to the individual user, what other applications would benefit from the guards?

A: The smaller the camera, the more mobility it provides. This is a benefit of the latest generation of HD offerings from all manufacturers. Unfortunately, increased mobility means that cameras are being subject to increased exposure to damage and the elements. The DVG is meant to be placed on a camera and left on the camera for life. For an individual and institution, this means protection from damage. If the camera gets damaged in the field, then valuable shooting time could be lost. There is another benefit to the guards. There is a strong resale market for video cameras. By protecting the camera from nicks and scratches, in addition to impact protection, the resell value of a camera is maintained. This is of extreme benefit to rental house as well as individual users. Schools can definitely benefit from DVG use as can rental houses. When you have camera in a "loaning" environment where many individuals are using it, there are more subject to damage.

Q: Is TST the main separator between Kata and competitors at NAB?

A: Well, I think there are two things that separate Kata from other manufacturers in the industry. 1) History and Military Legacy. The first products that Kata produced 20 years ago were for the Israeli military. They created carrying solutions for uber-expensive military equipment and personal protective gear such as bullet-proof vests. The severe requirements of for products used in military implementations pushed Kata to continually push the limits on materials and design. This mentality has never left the design team at Kata. TST is a good example of a manufactured material that is simply better because its use in military products required it. If Kata can protect military equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, imagine what they will do for your video gear. 2) Design Mentality. Kata focuses on three elements when designing protective products; Protection, Weight and Ergonomics. Our designed focus on finding the perfect balance between protection and weight. This creates solutions that ensure that your camera and gear will be ready for that one award-winning, and that you will be mobile enough to get where you need to be to take it. Because gear in our industry is still heavy, ergonomics is another key element. This again comes from our military background. Our harnesses and carrying solutions are tops in the industry and ensure that carrying gear will tax your body as little as possible. Our backpacks for example use military grade harnesses that our customers rave about. Solutions like this come from keeping focus on these three key elements in all our designs.


Wayne Schulman, Video Sales Manager at Bogen Imaging

Q: You said in the podcast that MicroLite is the perfect solution for K-12 schools. Why?

A: The price is less than 1/2 of the professional unit. It will work with all of the smaller cameras and with photo.

Q: When looking at Reflecmedia’s Chromatte fabric, it’s gray – how does the camera see a blue or green screen?

A:Chromatte is a fabric designed specifically for use as a background for chroma key production. Unlike conventional chroma key fabrics that are usually blue or green in color, in ambient light Chromatte is grey to the eye. The fabric contains millions of tiny glass beads that act as reflectors: when any light - such as the directional light from Reflecmedia’s lens-mounted LiteRing – hits the fabric, it is returned on the same path back into the camera’s lens. This retro-reflectice process means the camera ‘sees’ the apparently grey fabric as a perfectly even blue or green background. We feel Chromatte offers unrivalled benefits in Lighting--the only light required to light Chromatte comes from the LiteRing; Ease of use--quick, simple, effective and consistent; Portability--chromaFlex takes the chroma key shoot out of the studio; Adaptability-- Chromatte drapes and panels can be custom manufactured to fit virtually any environment; Flexibility--LiteRing colour determines whether the production is shot against blue screen or green screen. If circumstances change and the alternative color is required, the LiteRing can simply be exchanged without any need for repainting or relighting; Space--Chromatte can be installed into the largest of studios or the smallest office – there is no ‘spill’ in a Chromatte installation; Time--unlike conventional chroma key installations, installing Chromatte takes very little time, freeing up production time to concentrate on other elements like scene composition.

Q: Besides the MicroLite solution, what other products does Reflecmedia offer that will be at NAB?

A: Last year we announced the release of Basematte, the latest addition to our award-winning range of Chromatte products. Basematte is intended to be used specifically on the floor and will even further expand the company’s Chromatte capabilities. We developed Basematte following an increasing demand from customers to have products for head to foot keying; using the Chromatte fabric with a rubberised backing. This prevents the product from slipping, enables it to be rolled up, is crease free when unrolled and when placed against a curtain of Chromatte; provides the user with a key-able ‘Infinity Studio’. One of the issues we have addressed in the development of Basematte is safety within studio environments. Keying from the floor has always been difficult and while it is possible to use Chromatte this way – and many clients do – it’s not ideal as the wear and tear on the fabric means it’s costly to replace. It was recently used in a natural history shoot where the production team needed to film a snake over an extended period of time. By using Basematte – along with the rest of the Chromatte range - the light levels within the studio were kept to a minimum, creating a more comfortable environment for the snake thus enabling the crew to get all the shots they needed on the ground and in a cool environment. We are also announcing Chromatte Tape. This ingenious tape allows you to temporarily connect Basematte tiles for location shooting or to repair Basematte or Chromatte materials.