‘Postales,’ Feature Shot With Panasonic AG-HPX500 P2 HD Camcorder, Selected To Partcipate In IFP’S 2009 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab

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Last Updated: June 4, 2009 6:09 pm GMT
(Secaucus, New Jersey--June 4, 2009) "Postales" (Postcards), written and directed by Josh Hyde, has been chosen to participate in the Independent Feature Project’s (IFP) 2009 Narrative Independent Filmmaker Lab, upcoming in New York City, June 8 – 12.

The feature, shot with Panasonic’s AG-HPX500 2/3” P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder, is one of only ten narrative rough cuts singled out by the IFP because of its artistic vision and outstanding promise. The Director of Photography was Dan Fischer.

Postales is a cross-cultural love story shot in the streets of Cusco, Peru in which Pablo, a postcard-selling street kid, meets a young America tourist and, curious, follows her back to her hotel, setting off a chain of events that culminate with a stolen wallet, young love, and a family losing its home.

The earlier short version of Postales, entitled Chicle, was one of 17 student shorts selected to screen at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, and went on to win prizes at the Hamptons, Black Mariah and Chicago International Film Festivals, as well as to screen at the Berlin International Film Festival.

“We needed a robust camera like the HPX500 that could easily take primes and fit onto a Steadicam to tell a story set 12,000 feet in the Andes--plus have the footage available immediately to edit on site,” said Hyde. “And when I say immediately, I mean instantly. The camera was a tank--it never flinched during production.”

“The HPX500 was a great fit for Postales,” said DP Fischer, who owns the camera that was used on the shoot. “Cusco has virtually no production support, so we needed a fast, efficient team and gear. I loved the idea of a solid-state camera, and when Josh and I evaluated the P2 line-up at Abel Cine Tech (New York, NY), I was turned on instantly by the ease of workflow and immediate results. We tested the HPX500, and given the quality of lenses available for it, the image quality is unsurpassed in its price range.”

“Our Peruvian family lives in a mud brick adobe house that was extremely dirty and dusty,” he added. “That was one location where I’d have been terrified if I were shooting film. Not having moving parts in the camera was phenomenal.”

Postales had a 24-day shoot on location in Peru last fall. The filmmakers shot several camera tests in their home base of Chicago. “I color timed the tests,” Fischer said. “We shot it as clean as we could as I didn’t want any effects limiting me in post. I already knew our look, and this way we could walk into the post house with the deepest saturation, giving me the best ability to bring the image right where I needed it.”

“The dynamic range of the HPX500 is great, eight to 10 stops depending on where your exposure sits,” he continued. “I liked to underexpose just slightly because I can pull it up in post and keep my blacks solid and bring out desired detail in my highlights. I rate the camera at 500 ISO so I had ND filters on often during day shoots. All of our nights moved quickly; while I was setting lights with my gaffer, I could shoot some doc moments with the available ball sodium vapors that line the streets of Cusco. Incredible!”

”I’ve been very surprised by how much I can tweak the image in post. Having worked extensively with film negatives in post, I loved how much I could pull and push the HPX500 image around. I’ve been disappointed in the past with the lack of latitude most video cameras seem to have, but that isn’t an issue with the HPX500.”
On the Postales shoot, the HPX500 was equipped with 2/3” Canon HD primes and a Fujinon HD zoom lens, matte box, follow focus and a Panasonic BT-Lh80WU 7.9" widescreen multi-format color electronic viewfinder and production monitor. The production was shot with four 16GB P2 cards.

“We shot at 1080 24pa, getting about 70 minutes shooting sequentially on the four cards,” Fischer said. “We dumped twice everyday, once at lunch and once at wrap. Our editor Evan Smith would offload the cards to two hard drives so we always had backups of the MXF files. Then, he would bring them to a working/editing drive, drop them into Final Cut Pro and make sure every shot was accounted for per the script notes. When he was done, he called and we could clear those cards. We were always very cautious and never rushed it, always having multiple backups. The workflow was great and simple once you were comfortable; we never ran into any issues.

”Once Evan had the working footage, he synced up any audio and began rough string outs. If there were any problem scenes that day, we would ask him to cut them right away so we could view the scene and know we had it. We had a rough assembly when we finished shooting: that ability was incredible and is the future of filmmaking for our generation of storytellers.”

”We used a total of eight terabytes of storage during production,” said Hyde. “Upon picture lock and final mix, we bought another three terabytes for archiving, mastering and backing up. Two drives were used to edit the film, one copy in New York and the other copy in Chicago. We would pass sequences back and forth, and reconnect them as the edit evolved. When the project got close to picture lock, we edited together either in New York or Chicago. We had a lot of test screening, both physical and virtual.”

“We used Final Cut Studio 2 to edit because of our post production work flow,” he added. “Our color timer, Ken Wald, works for Optimus in Chicago, where they have a good DI path using FCP, COLOR, and then finishing to a data file that can be used to make D-5 HD masters.”

“I have absolute confidence in shooting with the HPX500 on either a narrative or a documentary,” Fischer said. “It’s a great camera, especially with some nice glass in front. We just saw a cut of Postales on a 16’ HD screen, and, man, did it look good!”

For more information about Postales, visit http://www.lofuproductions.com or http://chicleypostales.blogspot.com.

About the HPX500
The AG-HPX500 teams the full production-quality of 2/3” 3-CCDs, DVCPRO HD, 4:2:2 sampling and independent frame encoding with the versatility of interchangeable lenses and the creativity of variable frame rates. Offering the highly popular features of the incredibly successful AG-HVX200 P2 HD hand-held camcorder but with many new enhancements, the 8.2-pound HPX500 features progressive 2/3” 3-CCDs that provide a larger light receiving area resulting in increased resolution and sensitivity, superb low-light performance and wide dynamic range. The HPX500 records in 32 high definition and standard definition formats, including 1080i and 720p in production-proven, 100 Mbps DVCPRO HD. The HPX500 records on removable P2 solid-state memory cards in 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p; in 720/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, and 24p; and in DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV. For more information on the HPX500, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

About Panasonic Broadcast
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a Unit of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC) and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

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