Another year, another Cinegear. This year was a little different from other years. This year, I actually had a product in a booth. Since Norms Studio has started producing the Nerd Clamp, they had a hi-hat and a cute little two step ladder showing off the newly redesigned clamp. It got a lot of attention at the Norms booth and was very well received. For that and other reasons, I decided to go to both days of the show this year. I'm glad I did because I think I've decided that Friday night is really the night to go. I also decided that two days is too many. Unlike other years there was actually a decent amount of interesting grip stuff. Enough stuff that this post is going to be about what I saw that I liked versus last years post which was all about how boring LEDs were.
Starting things off by the entrance and the Filmtools booth were Cherry Boxes. These guys were there showing off a new take on an old classic, plastic apple boxes. Using the same kind of plastic that makes up your standard port-o-potty these boxes are surprisingly strong and durable. The full apple on first floor(or texas, or #1) can hold up to 400lbs in the middle and 600lbs around the edges, although they said they haven't actually tested the max breaking strength the creator Ernie props up his truck with them so he can work underneath. They come in a variety of colors and all of the standard sizes. You can even screw into them just like their wooden counterparts, and after removing the screw just push the curly q back into the hole and melt with a lighter and the hole is gone. They are also going to be offering infusion printing so you can put your logo on them. While they are pretty awesome, I do think they have a few downsides that will prevent them from replacing wooden boxes as the standard. First of all, they are a little bit pricey, with a full coming in at $55, $25 more than one from Sun Valley Cabinets. Secondly they are a bit slippery. They offer grip tape that you can put on the first floor side of the box, but seeing as boxes end up in all sorts of positions grip tape seems like a band-aid on a larger problem. That being said, if I worked in the corporate video world and only carried two boxes with me and appearance was a factor, I would totally make those two boxes Cherry Boxes. Likewise if I were a boom op that brought his own box or one of the many other departments that see the need for a box in their kit I would totally make that one box a Cherry Box in my favorite color so the grips would never accidentally take it. So while they aren't perfect they are pretty rad and I know I'll be buying an orange full with GRIPNERD printed on it to keep in my car.
The next thing I saw that grabbed my attention was actually a camera accessory. It's a Kydex holster for a follow focus unit. They didn't have a booth, just a dude walking around wearing one on his belt and then a bunch more on his backpack in the other colors they offer. I was interested mainly because they are made using Kydex. Kydex is thermoplastic acrylic-polyvinyl chloride and it's used to make gun holsters and knife sheaths. Its a hard and light plastic that you can melt in the oven and then form by hand or using a press or vacuum forming. Known as Hartware Holsters, these guys are made for a FIZ3 in a 2 channel configuration(whatever that means), but they plan on making more versions soon. They looked really well designed and super useful in keeping your FIZ from banging into things when you aren't actually pulling focus. If you want more information contact Michael Hart and more information can be found here(pdf).
Litegear was there with a really good looking booth that displayed all of their fancy LED products but that wasn't why I hunted them down. I was on a mission. Litegear made an app a few years ago called Tech Scout Touch. It was an app for making equipment lists on your iPhone and it was amazing. You could throw together a list while you were still in the passvan on the scout. Sadly though, it was aimed at the electric side of things. Sure you could add grip gear on your own, but it was a huge pain. After a year of not having a grip version of this glorious app they posted some progress screenshots of the grip version! My mission was to find out when if ever that version is coming out. I got good and bad news. The bad news is that they scrapped the work they had done on the grip version. The good news was that they scrapped it so they could redesign both versions from the ground up to be cloud based. No more sending lists to your best boy as plain text. You'll be able to share lists and collaborate with the DP or even add production to the list as view only. Mission accomplished, look for new Tech Scout Touch around the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015!
Chapman was there with a small booth behind the In-N-Out truck. They had a spiffy new pedestal dolly called the Cobra. It has an extremely small footprint and the pedestal goes from 22" to 60" effortlessly. With a 250 lbs carrying weight it's a pretty powerful little dolly that can go pretty much anywhere. While it seems like they are focusing on studio work I think with some beefier tires it could have a future in location work.
There was only one company at the show that managed to get my money(other than In-N-Out) and that was Gruvgear. They make a line of folding dolly/hand trucks that really grabbed my attention. As someone that moves stuff around for a living(among other things) I'm always looking for things to make my job easier. Way back at my first job I fell in love with my first cart, the U-boat. Stocking frozen food at Weis Markets the U-boat could hold an extremely huge amount of boxes while remaining extremely narrow and nimble thanks to it's center mounted fixed wheels. Flash forward to 8 years ago when I bought a Rock N roller Multi-cart. It folded down to carry-on size and opened up to be a pretty huge cart. Unfortunately it had pneumatic tires and was pretty poorly built, lots of sharp edges and plastic bits that broke off quickly. I got some good use out of it but it eventually ended up living in my junk pile with two flat tires. Enter the Gruvgear flagship, the Muver 6. It's a folding U-boat style cart that can also fold into a bunch of different configurations. It's built really well with lots of smooth edges and solid tires. They also make two smaller carts that aren't quite as versatile but are a little smaller. My cart should be ready in about three weeks, I can hardly wait!
The last booth that interested me was actually an effects company. One of their employees also makes grip gear on the side and along with some super mini gobo heads he had some of the sexiest "doggicam blocks"(5/8" swivel clamps) that I've ever seen. Springs between each set of jaws and registration pins that keep each pair aligned make them super easy to use. In addition to a nylon washer the surface in between the two pairs of jaws is ridged to prevent twisting. He also makes speed clips for 5/8" rod and has a few other pretty rad little toys including the "doubleini" a double ended cardellini. His website seems to be very under construction, but you can probably contact him through Reel EFX.