In 1989, Peter and Richard Abel formed a fledgling film camera service company in Staten Island, NY that was granted status as an official service site in the US for Aaton motion picture cameras. Aaton, based in Grenoble, France, was widely regarded as one of the most innovative camera manufacturers in the industry.
By 1992, Abel Cine Tech would achieve full Aaton agent status, handling all business on the East Coast of the States. In 1993, a resurgence in the popularity of the 16mm film medium helped Abel expand to include a full-fledged sales division. This increase in new camera sales greatly assisted Abel Cine Tech’s steady growth.
In 1997, a joint decision was made by Aaton / Grenoble and Abel to re-establish the Burbank office under the Abel Cine Tech flag in order to provide a more unified and singular vision for Aaton in the States. In August of ’97, Abel Cine Tech / LA opened its doors, and Abel was thus instituted as the sole US agent for Aaton camera systems.
Abel began to offer a range of complimentary sales equipment in addition to Aaton, such as Cartoni, OConnor and Sachtler tripod systems, Canon and Fujinon lenses, Losmandy portable jibs and dollies, and Chrosziel matteboxes and follow focus systems.
In the fall of 2001, Abel took a first step into digital and High Definition camera sales by signing on as a Value Added Reseller of Panasonic broadcast and HD equipment lines. They have since become a Panasonic Specialty Reseller.
Their successful expansion into the broadcast and HD markets led to more than 15 significant new reseller contracts for Abel over the next few years—most notably the Sony CineAlta rep contract, Sony Broadcast Equipment line, Canon Digital Video line, JVC Professional line—as well as exclusive US reseller contracts for Munich-based Panther Broadcast equipment and Hedén lens motors from Sweden.
In 2003, Abel opened its Post Services department in NY – offering up / down / cross conversion and frame rate conversion services, including all major HD and standard definition formats.
In 2004, Abel expanded its LA services to include equipment rental, focusing primarily on film and HD camera systems.
In October 2004, the New York operation relocated from Staten Island to 609 Greenwich St. in the West Village. This move put Abel in the heart of the NY film, commercial and broadcast communities, and in proximity to their key rental and sales clients.
This prime NYC location, coupled with the new mix of products that included low cost, high performance cameras, gave Abel the opportunity to move into specialized retail sales.
In the Spring of 2006, the West Coast operation relocated to a 12,000 sq ft space in Burbank, CA, offering a similar concentration of specialized sales, retail sales, rental and technical support.
In March of 2007, Abel Finance Services was launched to provide customers with in-house leasing and lending services that matched the level of customer service, expertise and customized solutions found in all other departments.
In May 2007, Abel was tapped as the exclusive North American sales agent to the entertainment and production industry for Vision Research’s Phantom camera line. The breakthrough digital high-speed camera was well received by cinematographers and industry creatives, and opened the door for the company’s move into true digital cinema.
In March 2008, Abel acquired the sales division of Fletcher Chicago, solidifying a presence in the Midwest region and paving the way for a more unified national sales strategy. In the Fall of 2009, Abel’s Chicago sales office officially opened its doors, with an initial concentration on specialized sales.
In 2011, the company launched its rebranding as AbelCine, to reflect its expanded role in the marketplace. Three new departments also launched that year: Training, Integration Services, and Product Engineering.
In 2014, AbelCine marked its 25th anniversary with open house events on both coasts.
In 2015, the company’s Midwestern regional office moved into a new space located on the lot at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. This move brought the facility up to the level of the New York and Burbank sales outfits, with an interactive sales showroom, dedicated training center and community space.
As technological advancements continue to create a more accessible and democratized professional production market, AbelCine has embraced the emerging volume sales model. As a result, the company now carries over 150 product lines.
For a chronological history of key events, staff and customer photos, and the evolution of AbelCine’s ad campaigns in the company’s first 20 years, visit abelcine.com/20years.