BSC Expo – Battersea Show is best in breed

Last year I wrote that the Battersea-based BSC show was the best show of the year. Fast forward 12 months and it remains a Show that really understands what it’s trying to do.

Top-end content production is a growth sector, with the FAANGs confirming their collective commitment to the UK. The Studios, production companies, post-production and rental companies in this sector have been given a real boost, and this in turn gives camera operators, crew, VFX artists and all the sectors which support these productions a genuine shot in the arm.

It’s also worth noting the significant boost that the sector gets from the UK Film Tax Relief, which accounts for over £3Billion of inward investment annually. I understand that there are calls from within the industry to fine-tune the tax credit to ensure that it’s the film makers who get the benefit as was originally intended, rather than the big studios who now seem to gain most of the financial benefit. I just hope that we don’t bite the hand that feeds us.

All these factors should ensure that the success story isn’t ephemeral, but a secure, well-founded and well-funded sector.

The mix of exhibitors demonstrated that the show is doing the right things. All the principal manufacturers, Arri, Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Fujinon et al were there showing their wares. And when the conversation moved from interest to action, the customer had a large range of rental companies to discuss hire terms, or sales companies if they wanted to buy. And obviously Adamantean was present to help spread the cost of buying.

It seems that getting the right exhibitors, with the full range of manufacturers, and a good choice of rental and sales companies is quite difficult for the show organisers to pull off. Certainly, this was one of the principal failings of BVE in its latter years, although there were quite a few other failings too. The MP(T)S show (they’ve added Technology to their Show name this year), which is now in mid May, is doing a much better job of getting this mix right, but at last year’s MPS there was still a dearth of camera sales and rental companies, although the major post-production resellers were all present. This may well have changed for this May’s show as I know that it’s expanding rapidly. Feedback from friends of mine who have rental and sales businesses who exhibited at BSC seem very happy with the opportunities that they’ve created by being there.

As for new equipment at this year’s BSC show, it seems that 2018 was probably the sweet spot for BSC new kit launches. The Sony Venice , the Arri Alexa LF and the rental-only Panavision DXL2 were all announced then, which was a bit of a coup for a “small” show. The only newish products that I found this year were the Zeiss Supreme Prime Radiance lenses. With a special lens coating, these T1.5 lenses are designed to give a uniquely controllable flare effect. I gather that they only available for a limited time, so if this is your thing, you need to be quick. And as they are only available in the full set of 7 focal lengths, you might need our help paying for them.

We at Adamantean have funded quite a few Venices and these seem to be continuing their upward trend in popularity. But by far the most popular flavour of digital capture in this year’s Oscar nominations is Arri, with The Irishman, 1917 and the fabulous Jojo Rabbit all shot on various cameras of theirs. What is striking is the number of the major cinema releases that are still shot on film, with my 2 favourites, Joker and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, among them. This is great news for all involved in the digitisation process to get the film in to the post-production workflow.

This year’s BSC was the biggest so far, with more and more temporary canvas-covered stand space at the front. I described last year’s BSC as the Goldilocks size , but it does feel like they are now pushing what is possible in a finite space. The exhibition hall itself was uncomfortably warm, and noisy, but when you’ve got so many sales people talking in a confined space, there will always be the risk of hot air. It wasn’t that long ago that the show was a hobo, with changing locations at Elstree, Leavesden, and Pinewood, before settling in Battersea. I hope they don’t get greedy and lose the focus. It’s better than it’s ever been right now.

I missed all of the talks and seminars. Were they good? And well-attended? I remember the fan-boy queues for last year’s Roger Deakins talk, so they set a high bar.

The housekeeping and organisation was efficient. Quick queues for the left luggage, and the lockers were a good idea, although if you had more than a pencil to leave in the tiny lockers, you would have been out of luck. And the food facilities were good quality, compared to many other shows. The Sloane Square courtesy bus is a necessity. You’d be hard pushed to find a point in central London that is further away from a tube station than Battersea Park

Overall, a big thumbs up from me. If you’re in any way connected to top-end content production, I believe it has become the “must-attend” show of the year.

If you exhibited, do you feel you got value for money? If you visited, do you think it was worth the time away from your “day job”.

Duncan Payne