After last year's crashing camera crane drama, the 1998 ShowBiz Expo Los Angeles exhibition and conference seemed fairly placid. Not that the show floor wasn't busy: According to Reed Exhibition Companies, which co-manages ShowBiz Expo with Variety magazine, 21,000 industry professionals visited the Los Angeles Convention Center June 12-14. Four hundred and fifty attended the conference program, the theme of which was "The Evolution of Production."

Production, not to mention technology, was certainly evolving at many of the exhibitor booths. Airstar Lighting Balloons dominated the view of the hall along with helicopters, camera cars, and Musco Lights. But some of the more innovative items at ShowBiz Expo were too small and quiet to be taken in at first glance.

If not for the size and front-and-center positioning of its booth, for example, Eastman Kodak's PreView System, developed with Panavision, might have escaped casual notice. But this complex previsualization system for the cinematographer has the potential to transform the DP's prep process, providing what Kodak touts as "instant dailies." Using digital camera images, PreView software selects and emulates everything from film stock, lenses, gels, and filters to lab processes like color timing and flashing. PreView affords the cinematographer more choice over locations, look, and experimental techniques. It should be available through Panavision by this fall.

Another new digital tool for lighting professionals in film and video is Rosco's FilmShop, a software system that creates light plots using a 1,000-item inventory of instruments, grip equipment, and electrical distribution equipment and set pieces, with features for power distribution, equipment orders, expendables, and photometric calculators.

Though digital technology was, as usual, a major presence at the show, most products and services were not contained in a computer module. GAM Products Inc. introduced new products for both floors and faces. GAMFloor provides a 4-mil-thick, dyed vinyl alternative to paint. Speed of application, durability, and easy clean-up are just three of the advantages of GAMFloor, which is available in 4'x100' (1.2x30m) rolls and a variety of matte and gloss colors, including Chroma Key Green and Blue. GAM's Naked Cosmetics line of color filters are designed to enhance or modify skin tones, in combination with GAMFusion.

The big lighting manufacturers were all present and accounted for. LTM showed the Cinepar 12kW, featuring the Triple Lock bulb support system; the Cinespace 575, a multipurpose HMI convertible to space, fill, or softlight; and the Video 18, an 18W HMI light designed for video camera mounts. Mole-Richardson unveiled a 6,000W Skylight, while Arriflex showed the final version of its Arrisun 120, a 12k PAR with 500mm lens.

Sunray introduced its flicker-free 200W SE HMI PAR/Lantern Combo, as well as a 12k extension to its 6k single-ended PAR. From K5600 Lighting, the Softube is an accessory to the Jokerlight, which transforms a spotty narrow beam into a soft, even source. LP Associates and Lightning Strikes! showed the SoftSun 50k, a continuous daylight softlight, and the SoftSun Direct 3.3k, which provides broad soft output directly from the source. Incidentally, Tek Lighting Corp. is giving Lightning Strikes! a run for its money with its new Striker-Lite, a 50kW, 120V, 240V xenon long arc for flashing effects.

In the fluorescent realm, Kino Flo showed its new Flathead 80, an eight-lamp fixture similar to the Wall-O-Lite, but operated by a pair of remote 4-bank ballasts. The light from the Flathead 80 can be controlled in half-stop increments, and the fixture is fitted with card holders. The company also introduced a Trans-Flo Dimming System, KF29 Mini-Flo lamp, 6'x6' (1.8x1.8m) Blanket-Lite, and Lollipop Mount with baby receiver. LightTech's entries were the CFL 1655N, a 16-lamp soft source providing 400fc at 10' (3m), and the CFL 155N, two 55W lamps in a carry case for remote film or video setups.

Lights Up Industries showed its modified Airstar helium balloon light source, and talked up its participation in recent films like Titanic. From sea to sky--Pace Technologies also worked on James Cameron's Oscar winner, and at ShowBiz Expo the company introduced a 4,000W underwater HMI and 8,000W underwater cyclight. Its main competitor, Hydroflex, showed its 35-3 Remote AquaCam Waterproof Cine Camera System, featuring an Arriflex 35-3 body, designed for use on cranes and jib-arms either in the water or on its surface.

Finally, a new division of Xenotech-Strong International, Nocturn Ultraviolet Visual Effects, was officially launched. Nocturn's System-FX UV products include 600W, 400W, and 250W flood fixtures, a 250W spot, high-intensity UV-A lamps, fluorescent paints, clear coats, sealer, and plastics. The company will also provide UV design and production services to the film, television, theatre, and themed entertainment industries.

And to try to ensure that the professionals using all of the above equipment do so safely, IATSE Local 728 announced that the latest round of classes in its training and safety program for studio electrical lighting technicians will commence this month, to be held weekly at Hollywood Rentals space donated by Matthews Studio Group. Classes cover electrical codes, lamp operation, rigging, repair, and other areas, using equipment donated by all of the major manufacturers.