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April 7, 2006 Spotmakers Focus On Panasonic’s HVX200

As NAB approaches, there has been a lot of attention placed on high-end digital cinematography cameras with 2k and/or 4k resolution support. But this past week, cost effective HD camcorders for uses including broadcast to the Web were generating attention in the commercialmaking world.

Specifically, some are intrigued by Panasonic’s new HVX200 camera—launched in December—that records to a P2 solid state memory card to create a tapeless production environment. The camera also combines multiple HD and SD formats, multiple recording modes and variable frames rates, and a compact design.

Last week, it was announced that bicoastal/international @radical.media had purchased two HVX200s, with the intention of buying up to an additional four throughout ’06.

“On our original entertainment or branded entertainment projects, @radical.media demands HD acquisition to future proof our projects’ potential,” explained @radical.media’s CTO Evan Schechtman. “The world of distribution is changing and we want to be ready for film exhibition, HD broadcast/projection at any time, even if the initial release is in SD.”

@radical.media has already used the HVX200s extensively on its production of “Driver TV,” a VOD channel on many cable networks that provides an unbiased view of 100-plus automobiles. These VSEs (Virtual Showroom Experiences) are separated into brands and categories. Footage will ultimately be turned into HD downloads when the Driver TV Web site launches.

“Very often our television productions need to be highly mobile, a motivating factor in our purchase of the HVX200s,” related Schechtman. “When applicable, the camera will be used in remote locations … the hand-held camera is so much lighter to travel with. Also, we envision assignments where we will shoot documentary segments on DV with the HVX200, but then instantaneously switch to shooting HD for beauty shots. It’s like going out with two cameras.”

“We’ve been outfitting the HVX200 with zoom/focus controllers and wide angle adapters,” he continued. “As for Driver TV, when doing an interior 360 of an automobile, there is no other camera that will fit inside with room to spare.”With regard to workflow and post, Schechtman explained, “We travel with spare P2 media, as well as with a G4 PowerBook and several G-RAIDS for storage and redundancy. In post, our typical approach is to transfer footage to Firewire 800 hard drives via a PowerBook or other Mac. Material will then be moved to our internal SAN. We cut in Final Cut Pro HD in native space, and output to D-5 HD or other requisite formats.”

Separately, at press time, commercial director/director of photography Peter Kagan was putting the HVX200 through its paces for production of a :30 for Subway titled “Get Inside the Five” and featuring Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. The spot aims to direct viewers to the Subway web site, and the site will also feature footage lensed by Kagan during the shoot.

The spot is being produced by Kagan’s New York-based Streamline Content via Source Communications, Hackensack, N.J. Ed Kisberg of New York-based Rooftop Edit is cutting the spot; and New York-based Click 3X will complete graphics. An upcoming SHOOT article will detail the production when completed.

SHOOT senior editor, technology and postproduction, Carolyn Giardina can be reached at 310-822-0211 or at cgiardina@shootonline.com.