My pal Mike Tosetto and I attended the SMPTE Conference yesterday. From their description it’s:

… the premier event for the motion imaging and television engineering industries in the Australasian region.

In other words, it’s mostly geared toward hard core TV production. There were exhibitors with gear that I really, really didn’t understand – boxes with loads of switches and knobs that look impressive, and cost a small fortune. They had a helicopter on display, for an aerial footage company, complete with a guy whose expression was designed to demonstrate that he was entirely used to helicopters. No big deal, his expression said. It’s just a helicopter.

The most interesting stand for motion guys like us was The Foundry’s, who make incredible software like Modo and Nuke. Mariana, the delightfully self-styled “Da VFX Chick”, was on hand to extol the virtues of all things Foundry, and I in particular was smitten with Modo and its beautiful modelling tools. The best bit: “MeshFusion”, which lets you intersect, subtract, and join surfaces. All 3D software provides boolean operations of course, but apparently MeshFusion “doesn’t suck”.

I had a great demo from Australia’s very own Atomos Shogun, the exernal HD monitor that records 4K from my little Sony A7S. I want one. And another Aussie company, Blackmagic, had an impressive stand with all sorts of toys for cashed up vision nerds, replete with a model who must’ve been exquisitely bored just sitting there doing a crossword puzzle and effectively just providing something for men to point cameras at. I’ll admit: it was a bit weird. Fortunately, having a play with the mind-boggling colour correction “Control Surface” on Davinci Resolve made up for any weirdness, though at $40,000 I doubt I’ll be rushing out to buy one any time soon. Fusion looks incredible too, and they’re releasing a free version for us Mac users Any Day Now.

Da VFX Crew

Afterwards there were the requisite beers as the Irish pub filled up to capacity with the attendees of the conference. Nearly entirely male. Fortunately we were joined by Da VFX Chick herself, which helped to even out the gender imbalance – around our little table, at least.