Chicago’s infrastructure got another big boost with the official opening Monday of AbelCine’s new Learning Point at Cinespace — this region’s first-of-a-kind combo interactive showroom, classroom and community space.
Company president/CEO Pete Abel, a modest, low-key kind of a guy for a New Yorker and co-owner of one of the biggest camera companies in the business, was in town for the occasion.
Abel and his brother, Rich, cofounded the camera and camera service company 26 years ago in New York and expanded to Burbank in 1997. Their Chicago entrée was a year in the making and after a lot of discussion with local industry leaders, Abel says.
But Chicago isn’t foreign territory to the Abel brothers. An AbelCine sales office operated in Oak Brook Terrace for six years, led by Kari Hesse, head of production sales at AbelCine Chicago, now at Learning Point.
“Our new facility is an extension of our commitment to the Midwest,” Abel says. “Today’s services include consultation, education and helping our customers figure out technology’s impact on their business.
“We plan to grow our offerings in the future as the market dictates,” he adds.
The AbelCine Learning Point is situated in 8,000-sq. ft. on the top fourth floor at 2602 W. 16th St., in the heart of Cinespaceland and across the street from bustling “Chicago Fire/PD/Med” sound stages.
Cinespace helped with the architecture of the space “and we worked closely together to make the investment affordable for us,” Abel says.
Central to the facility is an open model showroom displaying a full range of camera, audio and lighting gear from all the major image capture manufacturers.
The point of difference, Hess points out, “is that our gear is live, like an active set, with the ability to send signals to any device you want.
“When you combine this capability with the range of products on hand, it translates into a great environment for evaluating gear.”
There’s also a comprehensive inventory of production supplies and consumables, servicing the ongoing needs on Cinespace stages and the Chicago visual media industry.
Surrounding the showroom are roomy offices facing north and on the east side, leading to a café and bar is a long, windowed corridor that Abel says “soon will be outfitted as a comfortable workspace.”
In between the showroom and the café is a 4K training theatre, believed to be a first here, and the province of Camera Technology Specialist Megan Donnelly, a DP and Local 600 member, formerly with Fletcher Cameras. “This is where we offer practical and immersive professional training,” she says, “and our space has been designed to support this method.”
The theatre, with raised seating for up to 90 guests, can be converted to classroom style or hands-on workshops, presentations and events, some of which are already booked for fall and Abel says they’re open to new kinds of events they can hold in the theatre.
“The entire facility is designed to be a communal space,” he says. “The intent is to bring people together over technology, to talk, discuss, exchange ideas and learn.”
An open house for the trade is planned for November.
AbelCine Chicago currently has seven employees and is looking to hire more specialists in Chicago. Phone is 877/880-4267 or 312/973-3909.