Mitch Gross


[ 00:00:19 ] It’s a fascinating thing because 25 30 years ago there really were not hang out communities spaces and places for people in our industry to talk.

[ 00:00:30 ] I mean you you had trade shows that people get together but you didn’t have a way of people interconnecting and sharing knowledge and moving forward. Now Jeff Boyle is a great guy great T.P. and he basically was the guy who was traveling around doing commercials and was bored having to sit in his hotel room or at the hotel bar just after shooting some commercials so it’s like you know there’s this thing on the Internet I’m going to start an AOL message board just to try and get some other deeper kind of talk. And then it you know grew into its own thing. The Web site now has a mailing list and that created CML which became fantastic because you have this high level industry level of communication real working professionals and these guys were you know. I was one of them and we were all talking to one another. And then you would see at the bottom of every e-mail it’s you know. The first five hundred thousand then up now somewhere like 60000 people are members of this there’s the at any given time 50 or 75 people who are kind of actively posting. But there’s thousands of people watching because what happens is that yes these people were talking to each other. But you know when you’re writing this e-mail you’re talking directly to this manufacturer you’re talking directly to this post facility you’re talking to whatever lab you’re every. Every level of communication is happening. And trust me when I got to the other side of it I saw it like oh we are all paying attention. They all know what’s going on and so it’s a way to have not only conversations between one another but it was a way to have sort of get your message straight through to the people that it really mattered to even if they didn’t you know you don’t hear back. You don’t know you you know that they’re watching and they’re paying attention that stuff is going on. That’s a great level of communication but it’s not the only one because then what happened in social media and throughout the internet happened on its own level in its own way for the film community and the production community. So you have different forums that have cropped out. And there’s I mean there’s several of them there’s TV info there’s TV excuser and then read user which spawned all that and there’s you know numerous others cinematography dotcom was another one that was around from early on a number of these places where everyone talked to one another.

[ 00:02:56 ] And you knew that when you would give information there that you weren’t just talking to one person you might have one guy who asked a question and you answer it. And it’s not just him that you’re talking to you’re talking to 50 other people who are reading it right now.

[ 00:03:13 ] And five thousand people who might reference it over the next six months a year. Who knows what. So it becomes a great living ongoing thing. And what happened for me is that I was just an independent DP. I was a guy in the New York independent commercial you know low budget feature thing and that sort of world. And by being someone who communicated pretty well I thought you know I’d just like to talk to people and stuff and I kind of I was into you know as a kid I read Americans and photographer and stuff and I was just into what was going on how things were made and what it meant. And then I started to get to play with the toys and stuff and started you know really understanding it. And I’m the kind of guy who you know when I was a kid I first got a Rubik’s Cube within about a couple of hours I had dismantled it because I was curious how the thing functioned. How could you keep turning it dirty. You know it’s like I know that’s just the way my mind works. I need to own it mentally. So great. Fine. I now had an outlet where I could talk to people about stuff. That was great for me as an independent cinematographer just to be able to have a way to connect to people what I never realized was that that was actually going to become business for me. I would start making connections with other people and stuff and suddenly some call me up hey you know I’ve got this job I’m you know I’m this guy out in California somewhere but you know they need to do a day of shooting in New York and you do this for me because you know I I can tell you someone knows what’s going on because you know we talked about the net and stuff and then other people will find me and hire me and you start building out a way of networking and I originally it was kind of doing it for fun. But it became a kind of a business continue that on. I have a couple of kids I decide I don’t want to be out there shooting as much as I want to be you know able to be around my family a little bit so I’m going to transition a little I still shoot some but I’m going to go and try and get a job at a facility somewhere. Well I what I realized I was doing.

[ 00:05:12 ] I had been talking to people so much that it became a level of consultation and having a sort of a business of consultation as much as I was shooting.

[ 00:05:25 ] And I kind of was getting paid for the shooting during the consultation for free. So I kind of flipped it and I joined Ableson. It was still called Ableson tech at the time.

[ 00:05:35 ] Ableson in rental and sales and I became kind of an in-house guy who just knew how to do this stuff and you know knew I started in the rental department but quickly everyone realized hey he’s the one who knows what this weird widget is when someone comes in and asked So it’s like I could just be able to talk to people and stuff and I also had been a shooter so I could communicate on the level that people what was meaningful to them as opposed to like you know sort of from the other side and what manufacturers think about and stuff and what a facility thinks about you know it’s a way of talking the language that they need to hear. And so now I got paid for doing that. And you know did a little shooting on the side so to keep kind of freshen it up and it just kind of grew from there so able Sydney as a place as a facility was someone someones who would like to really have a connection with their clientele and build an audience with them enough familiarity and just have a community going. So it became a localized community but then you know I continued on the Internet just talking to people in different ways. Now I wasn’t doing it for myself.

[ 00:06:41 ] Now I was doing it on that at the behest of this facility and you never got to talking bad about someone you know. I wouldn’t want to be rude anyway.

[ 00:06:50 ] But now I would also be sort of it became my responsibility for products that were important for us just to make sure that accurate information is out there you don’t want to go and flog anything is all you ever want to do is just make sure proper information is out there.

[ 00:07:06 ] OK I’m doing that on various forums and places and people. It’s great to have interconnection and what you realize is that very quickly other manufacturers and facilities and just places weren’t doing that. We’re dedicating that time because it can take a lot of time but that’s great because I was enjoying doing it so fine. But you realize there’s this desperate need and want for this inner connection because. In our business the one thing that you have to be if you’re a DP or the director producer or whatever it is you can’t be seen with your client.

[ 00:07:42 ] If you’re a GP with your producer director or if you’re a producer with your production company whatever it might be you can’t be seen with your client as someone who doesn’t know you have to be the answer man. You have to know well how do you know. I mean that doesn’t come by osmosis. You have to go and find out somewhere while people work on it a way to get to know they didn’t want to be able to. They don’t want to necessarily ask publicly but they wanted to have a way to find this information. So to have a way to actively get information out there.

[ 00:08:14 ] It became this wonderful back and forth thing and really growing community that people would you know just talk for the sake of it. This was people who are really one to sponge it in and take it this if it didn’t learn and continue that on you had some communities that develop for specific cameras and you’re like whoa you know I’m going to kind of just visit this community see what people are talking about. Well on one in particular was red user red user built this community up. And I would I go and I check out this community originally because I just was like All right. Well here’s a bunch of people they’re talking let’s see what’s going on and what I discovered is there were a lot of people in that community who were moved there were a lot of real industry veteran people who were interested in this new camera. But there were also a lot of independent people who were coming from cameras like Vieques 200 and just smaller level cameras a small Sony yak’s or something like that. And they were not used to the level of. Product that this camera was so they didn’t know about lenses so they didn’t know about tripods and various accessories and what certain filters man optically and through all the processes around post and stuff. So you start talking and what people recognize is hey not just this guy but maybe the company he works for there that’s a resource and it’s a place to go to find stuff out. So it becomes promotional without even thinking of promoting you know as much as just how to communicate you know. Oh yeah there’s this little zoom control thing you can use. Suddenly everyone wants to buy the zoom control thing. Oh great. You know so it helps us it helps others and stuff but it becomes a way to sort of skip past all the noise and get right to the clientele of the people who are interested in learning things and just connect to them.

[ 00:10:05 ] So I find it an extremely important thing to be you know it’s always great to come to a big trade show. It’s always great to have events at various resellers and just in different towns and just. But as an ongoing active thing communicating over the Internet and in these different forms and in different venues and just sort of putting yourself out there so that people can see that there’s a place to turn to. Now I’m working with Panasonic.

[ 00:10:35 ] And at Panasonic It’s like I’m I’m I am the product manager for America. I need to help let people know about them. It’s great for the brand. It’s great for the product. I believe in the product of course but it also means it’s something that people can know. You know I’ve got a place I can turn to if I have any questions about it immediately they can just you know know they can reach out and find information about what what I would say is that as the evolution that we’ve seen you know.

[ 00:11:14 ] First there was two thirds into video and that was news.

[ 00:11:17 ] And you know live production sort of thing. And then you had 60 millimeter film for a certain kind of things and you had 35 millimeter films for you know anything of a certain scale. Okay fine. And then everyone wanted to take that two thirds into video as it was growing and try to make it getting so much better and better and like OK digital cinema question whatever you want to call it. Let’s try to make something more out of it.

[ 00:11:41 ] And the first easy thing to do was not so easy but the first obvious thing to do was try to make it look more like 13:5 because that was the thing. So all these stupid biggest optical adapters were spinning that and all the problems. Oh what a nightmare those things were. But everybody was trying it out because they wanted to try and move your way towards that look. And then you had a couple of companies come in with large sensor digital cameras and instead of having this little to 30 inch electronic sensor. Now you had a large sensor and so it could give that 35 millimeter depth of field field of view sort of depth and look. And now you were at the races. Now it’s like all right we’re getting more in this direction. You even had on the lower end you had the cabin five that suddenly everyone’s like oh my goodness I can get this look for this very relatively tiny amount of money. It’s got this large sensor look and it has a certain sort of cinematic feel. You know there is I mean look cinematic feel. Citizen Kane everything’s in focus from the front the back. You know it’s like what is the cinematic look. You know I mean you can go back and forth on that nonsense for a lot. But it’s what people associate with these things. What happened is that film kind of went away.

[ 00:12:55 ] I mean there’s a little bit of film now that basically film went away and the video split into two directions which was sort of a broadcast Industrial which still is primarily two thirds inches also some smaller sizes. But that direction. And then you had your production did the digital cinema look and so broadcast industrial might be something where you’re going to switch your systems and you’re going for you know televised broadcast you’re going as the price point came down you were going into things like house of worship and more sports things and stuff where you know people who couldn’t necessarily afford to go into that space now are heavily into that space and actually people are spending a fortune in it for because they cannot take in live lifestream and such that you have the you know the churches that can hold 5000 people in it but then they’re like casting out to another 50000 people every weekend. There’s a huge kind of operation that’s going on there it’s really quite amazing in outreach of them. Well but that’s a certain kind of camera technology and kind of production. And Panasonic was actually quite active in that. But this other side of the camera that you would operate on its own and you would do you know one or maybe two cameras and shoot it and it would be a little production there and then you take it back and edited that. That type of production work which is also includes digital cinema but sometimes it’s just short piece production. It’s not what we associate with a live production or multi-cam production so the not so much. It wasn’t as much for Panasonic. So you kind of you didn’t hear that and that’s sort of to a lot of people that’s sort of the sexy side. So it might not be the big business side but it might be the sexy side. And so we’re doing a lot of conversations about that stuff going on and because Panasonic was not as active in it. We didn’t hear about Panasonic as much. And then there was a commitment from Panasonic to like OK we want what we’re doing very well in this space. We want to move back into this space I mean Panasonic’s a huge company that there’s that giant gigabit Gigafactory out in the desert which is. A partnership with Tesla and stuff and you know.

[ 00:15:15 ] We’re we’re doing pretty well but we’re a little sideshow in comparison. That’s a huge huge operation and they’re doing very well in the battery world and other business to business I think.

[ 00:15:25 ] But Panasonic was like are we going to make a commitment back towards this sort of work and they actually had people study it you know came to the U.S. and other major production centers and for a year like you know when I looked into what is it that people might want to develop in there what kind of product they might want to have and then move back into that space with the biggest. I mean part of it sort of slipped into it with cameras like the JH 3D. JH four and a half but then on the big side came in with him and Cam for caid digital cinema camera Super 35 sensor. This gorgeous the gorgeous color.

[ 00:16:07 ] And look that Panasonic has always been known for but now brought into a digital cinema world and it you know unparalleled kind of image quality and stuff. And and then it’s now we’re expanding that line there’s there’s three Actually all you can say for about three different model Panasonic there are Cam cameras and then the system is expanding and adding new products we have a sneak peek now and stuff but it’s expanding out that way.

[ 00:16:35 ] And that’s part of why I’m here as well that’s my product line. It’s also we want people to know that we’re here and we’re going to be working in this area and we’re going to be doing this sort of work and we care about this stuff.

[ 00:16:48 ] Too. It’s not just you know that industrious up into all these Panasonic digital projectors and stuff. Huge business for the company and it does very very well. Excellent products. Not a sexy not as fun to be talking about people. So you don’t really hear about so much stuff for the people in that area. They know that Panasonic is doing fantastic stuff. They’re going to come back into this stuff too and really is an active production community that does very how would I put it very out there you know.

[ 00:17:24 ] Well noticed that’s a way of phrasing it work and so people will see that sort of stuff much more than they’ll see business.

[ 00:17:34 ] That is huge is doing a lot of work but this is stuff that people will you know kind of notice. So so happens now with so good to be back in that well noticed area. But you know company never went away and it’s you know just decided it’s going to focus on activity in that area again.

[ 00:18:00 ] I’ll talk about the Wii are the Wii or 360. It’s an interesting bit of kit that we’ve got. It’s kind of you know some people are looking at ads for sports. Some people are looking at it for industrial use actually. There’s others that are looking at it as an experiential thing. So they like. As for instillations they know whether it’s at. You know like a theme park kind of thing or just up at a space that you would have you know whether it’s in museum or wherever there’s lots of different ways that people are trying to exploit the R and just exploit sounds like an ugly word try to utilize VR is whether it’s a storytelling technique or as something that just you know expands the experience that you’re having. I know that you know some friends of mine work at the New York Times and they’re making this very dedicated work to be like how can we expand report Taj using VR. Is this something that can enhance what is and expand upon the storytelling experience. And now this is not saying that you don’t throw away regular coverage. You do it but perhaps by a form of immersion you can learn more about it. So we have this interesting vr 360 camera system that will do self stitching. So in the camera you know as opposed to taking it in post to have it because of our lives sports and broadcast work that the idea behind this is that it’s all going to happen right at the camera or happen live and then you can utilize the imagery from that whether it is going into a VR environment and you know having a goggles on being able to look around within it or as it happens or alive or be able to extract images to then utilize in a traditional 16 by 9 frame you know an output you know in that way it’s something that you can cross purpose. So that’s something we actually have it. It’s no longer seeking it in the booth we have it as a as a product. So there’s a number of people who are playing vr this one plays to a particular way where you can actually actively use it live Panasonic Hamline. Now let’s say that the Panasonic cinema lineup for case and my cameras.

[ 00:20:29 ] You have you started with 35 and then we added the computer which is you know purely purely a digital raw signals only and such as the 35 as you know the same exact hammerhead but it has for video recording.

[ 00:20:47 ] And so you know more CBC-TV versus features if you will. It does either cut it that way. And then we have had the LTE with the MLT is you know much of the same exact same tensors and gorgeous image but limit’s certain other features so that we’re able to shrink the size and the weight and the cost make the camera which means that we can sell it to people for less. And then we had a big jump big gap. So you got down to the little cameras that were like the divi x 200 or the five you know little mirrorless camera that’s sort of a big you know you had you know a few thousand dollars to you know 10 times the price kind of thing that for the next step and it was a big open space there so we really thought you know it takes a lot of time to develop camera systems. You know this has been in the works for quite some time but it’s like we need to re-enter this space we need to have cameras in this zone if you will that you know certain kind of price point but also really it’s about a certain kind of size certain kind of feature set a certain way certain kind of media so that it appeals to a certain type of use. Well that’s what we’re sneak peaking right now. So it’s just has a little cover over it you’re like oh you know just letting people know. Here’s the lineup of stuff and there’s going to be this thing here you know we’re not quite telling what it is but only five weeks from now. We’re recording this at this moment we are going to be unveiling it at our next show. And then it will actually be shipping in the fall because it’s not like some vaporware thing like this has been in product development and we want to let people know. Right now it’s like hey you know it’s like think about think about like when a new car is released I go.

[ 00:22:26 ] They don’t want to just drop it on the market. Here it is. You know you guys want to buy it. You know where where it got a factory going and they’re making 200 yea. I hope you want to buy them because we’re going to stack them up.

[ 00:22:37 ] No no no we want to let people know that these things are coming so we tell them a little bit about it beforehand. We kind of give you and here’s what it’s going to look like. And then you know here’s some more you know when we get a little bit closer we’re going to give you lots of information about it so you kind of really get to know. And then you know then it’s becomes available you can order it from your favorite dealer and you will get your product. So you’ll soon and get to know more about the camera. You know but you were showing it with our digital cinema lineup. So you know it’s going to have that sort of cinematic look. These are all cameras that have larger sensors so it’s going to be a cab with a larger sensor. It’s going to be something that’s small and lightweight and kind of show people you know roughly the size of this blob that we’re kind of showing. And then it also is going to use you know we’re saying it use an inexpensive type of me. So and the workflow will be relatively inexpensive. So more comfortable for people to be able to work and then after that it’s like you know where. You can get some more details in a little over a month than in another four or five months after that. It’ll be out there and you can buy it. Be my guest but we’ll get some more information along the way. It used to be a thing and a B that you would show a product and say you know what. And then you get some feedback. They never came to exist it never happened. There was one product that when I was still working at the former job we were all we were like OK this is you know we went through the whole process and went through a development thing with them because we were interested and we got right up like we need to order these things now and they’re like yeah we just decided last week we’re not going make what what are you wasting my time for. And you know I can understand where people you know companies needed to see how the market reacted. You know are people going to be interested you know or maybe they see this like we are really I would buy it except if it just did this instead of do that or maybe you should think about this. Oh that’s a good idea. OK. You had a development process there that used to happen in a very public way at any b. Not so much anymore. Now what did they do. I mean they’re so people do it but it drives people crazy because any be as huge as it was was a space for professionals who had a lot of experience with things and the Internet kind of wasn’t out there is a thing now so much of what an A B is. There’s a lot of this. I mean you have a lot of yeah there’s people at the show and that’s important but there’s a heck of a lot of the value of an A B is a giant promotional Internet savvy event and it’s just a way of getting everyone together so we can all talk to put things out to the rest of the world.

[ 00:25:33 ] So if you show something and it don’t exist and it ain’t gonna exist that’s a real problem because it kind of reflects poorly on you.

[ 00:25:42 ] It looks like you’re the boy who cried wolf with your products kind of thing. So that happens and it still happens.

[ 00:25:48 ] You know people are developing they want to get a response that kind of happens behind the scenes in know private rooms and such doesn’t happen on the show floor where some companies puts out an array of little plastic boxes and none of them actually do anything and they never will because they never show up. I got one that was always kind of interesting and fun but that kind of went away.

[ 00:26:09 ] And I think thankfully so I think that we need to mitigate you know the message of you know this is a real product this is going to be a real product. This one we’re just kind of looking for feedback in looking for feedback. Let’s let’s pull you in and let me show it to you in private instead of just putting it out there like that.

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Backstage Conversation Season: 2017