Element Technica, LLC - Stephen Pizzo, Co-founder
Q. Evaluate 3D one year after it was perhaps over-hyped by various industry types at IBC 2010—what is the reality settling down into?
If 3D has been over-hyped, you couldn’t tell it from what’s happened to Element Technica. Since we introduced our initial Quasar rig at the 2009 IBC, we’ve reached a milestone of delivering our 200th rig. Our rigs have been used exclusively for premier sports telecasts all over the globe, including the FIFA World Cup, Sony Golf Classic, Roland Garros and most recently the Wimbledon Championships, just to name a few. Our rigs are continually being utilized in the rental market through forward thinking rental houses for dozens and dozens of commercial projects, and from low-budget indie films all the way up to major feature wins, thanks to our partnership with Panavision Worldwide.
Tent-pole feature production houses are now seeing the financial sense in owning their own 3D gear for projects, and each production demands no less than four rigs (to as many as seven) on a shoot. Most enterprising production houses have several 3D projects in the works, so purchasing the gear to amortize over several projects has become more the norm. One announcement in particular is the customer receiving rig number 200: the customer collecting rig number 200 is the SAME customer who took a huge chance on a brand new-to-3D company, and bought rig number ONE. That company is Evergreen Films, which now owns 10 of our rigs, and whose reason for thriving is 3D.
So if 3D is losing momentum, we can’t see it from here.
Q. What broad technology trends do you think will be front-and-centre at IBC?
As mentioned above, we think 3D is growing and will continue to grow. For both 3D and 2D motion picture production, there’s a growing array of 35mm single sensor PL mount cameras coming to market, along with high-quality lenses capable of providing exquisite images to these cameras. There will be more of these products, which provide the final link to 4K images through the entire digital cinema workflow, from acquisition through projection.
We also believe that the 3D post conversion trend will grow, and will eventually get much better than what is currently available. The tools and workflow for 3D just keep getting better and better, and are beginning to disprove the common misconception that it takes a soccer team’s worth of technicians to crew every 3D project.
Q. What’s new that you will show at IBC and that broadcasters should look for there?
Element Technica is now delivering our rigs in three sizes: the Quasar for the largest digital cameras, Pulsar for mid-sized cameras, and the Neutron for small form-factor cameras. Since all three rigs share common configuration and alignment procedures, producers can interchange between them to use the best solution for each shot.
For the RED Epic and Scarlet cameras, we will be showing purpose-built models of our Pulsar and Neutron rigs, which greatly simplify the cabling and streamline the rig/camera assembly. These new models are the Electron (for the Epic) and the Atom (for the Scarlet), which follow the form and function that users are accustomed to when using one of RED’s cameras.
We will be showcasing our 3D THC Hand Controllers (both Stereo and Lens version), designed to provide experienced camera assistants with a familiar feel for control of interocular (IO) and convergence (C) for the ET 3D rig, and focus, iris and zoom for the camera lenses.
MetaData and third-party integration has been a major focus for our company in 2011 and we have a host of innovations that are sure to raise a few eyebrows in the broadcast world.
And from our accessory division, we’ll be showing products designed specifically for the Sony F3 and RED Epic cameras that allow those cameras to utilize the thousands of camera and lens tools in use by filmmakers. ET’s accessories for the cameras include the Cheese Plate, a flat aluminum plate mounted to the top of the camera that sports an array of ¼–20 and 3/8–16 threaded holes that are ideal mounting points for various accessories, and the Riser, designed to put the lens mount at the proper height to allow use of ET’s revolutionary Hybrid system, a giant step forward in bridgeplate design because it is easily convertible between 15mm Studio, 19mm Studio, 15mm Lightweight, and Panavision rod standards.
Q. How is your new product offering different from what’s available on the market?
ET’s Technica 3D rigs share a common set of configuration and alignment procedures, and are agile enough to be reconfigured from side-by-side to beamsplitter mode, over/through or under/through, in 10 minutes or less. Our open architecture allows our rigs to provide bi-directional metadata between the rig and stereo optimization engines like the Sony MPE-200 and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft HHS STAN, which allows the rigs to be quickly integrated into multi-camera productions. Where some of our competitors provide proprietary systems that limit the producer’s choice of what other equipment their rigs can be paired with, we supply rigs that can work with a variety of peripheral equipment.
Q. Where are you based, and how many employees do you have? Anything else we should know about your company?
Element Technica is based in Culver City, Calif., with a current employee count of 55. We are an engineering, software, electrical and mechanical company that prefers to design, machine and build all of our systems in-house, making ourselves an asset to any broadcast or cinematic project.
Q. How many years have you been going to the IBC show and what’s your fondest memory? What’s your favourite restaurant or pub?
2011 will be our third venture as an exhibitor at IBC. My fondest memory is seeing the look on my employees’ faces when I showed up to the awards ceremony wearing flip-flops, shorts and a sport coat. In my defense, they were black flip-flops. Favorite restaurant? Any that I could get cell reception in.