Upcoming Globetrotting NBC Reality Series, "Treasure Hunters," Shot With 40+ Panasonic AJ-SDX900 DVCPRO Cinema

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Last Updated: June 5, 2006 6:09 pm GMT
(SECAUCUS, NJ --June 5, 2006) Treasure Hunters, premiering on NBC on June 18, is a new 10-episode reality "quest" series that will feature multi-person teams of treasure-hunting contestants traveling the globe and using folklore, fantasy and actual history as clues to solve an intricate puzzle.


Noted cinematographer Tony Sacco, principal of ABS Productions, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA), served as both Director and DP for the series, which he shot with more than 40 Panasonic AJ-SDX900 DVCPRO Cinema™ camcorders. Sacco previously shot two high-profile Miramax Television productions, Project Greenlight and Project Runway, with the SDX900; both shows air on NBC's Bravo cable network.

Treasure Hunters will be executive produced by Dan Cutforth and Jan Lipsitz via their Magical Elves production company, which produced Project Greenlight and Project Runway. Joining NBC and Magical Elves on the Treasure Hunters' production team will be Imagine Television, the television arm of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment, and Madison Road Entertainment. After its debut, Treasure Hunters will air Mondays 9 – 10 p.m./ET.

Sacco, a reality show veteran (HBO's Project Greenlight, Fear Factor, The Bachelor, American Idol) whose clients also include the Discovery Channel, Dateline, ESPN, and VH1, has owned several SDX900s for two years. He said, "Ever since I purchased the camera, the SDX900 is all I shoot with on my reality shows, so it was a given that I'd use it for Treasure Hunters. The camera has a proven track record of maintaining a great picture, being reliable-and I prefer the 24P look."

"My biggest concern was to have a camera that wasn't temperamental, and wouldn't breakdown in the field on an operator in the middle of nowhere," said Sacco. "The SDX900s have been ultimately dependable for me on every show I have done and the camera more than exceeded my expectations for Treasure Hunters-although I knew it would!

He continued, "Our first week of shooting we had 42 SDX900s-and we could have used more! In an adventure series that is also a reality show, you want to cover as much as possible-you do not want to miss that one time the cast have that breakdown, or the crucial argument. I used more than 20 cameras, most with 40X lenses, operated by some handheld floaters and the reality shooters, along with SteadiCam, jib and helicopter aerials using the gyron-stabilized camera mount shooting HD at 30p to cover it."

Addressing the camera's color handling, Sacco said, "Shooting in the SDX900's progressive mode in combination with the cine-like gamma curve creates the illusion of film, and is far superior to standard 60i video. In the unpredictable world of reality filming, where you are not able to paint each scene and light everything, the camera passes with flying colors, handling mixed lighting well, and holding up with major f-stop differences between the subject and background.

"I was strongly influenced by one of my favorite-looking shows, X-Files --I wanted shafts of light everywhere. The SDX900s handled the low light great, and the camera operators were topnotch. I also incorporated Prime lenses with the P+S TECHNIK PRO35MM Adapter whenever I could, which gave a distinct, filmic look as well. All the operators were equipped with the ‘Hip Shot,' which was developed specifically for reality shooters. We had many vendors that supplied cameras to us, and Moviola Hollywood supplied all the Primes and film adapters."

Sacco added, "With reality shows, I shoot 99% preset. I don't have much to tweak in the camera besides setting the presets warmer, and cranking the chroma more than normal to really warm up skin tones and make colors pop more. I have a philosophy of trying as much as possible to give post the exact look and color on tape while we are shooting, rather than waiting to go to color correction and tweaking."

Treasure Hunters is being edited on Avids, followed by full color correction.

The director/DP added, "The SDX900 has proven itself over and over in the field for me. It has a great native look, and it is easy to customize your own look. It's been a consistent camera for me time and time again, and is always my first choice in standard definition for my shows."

Panasonic's AJ-SDX900 offers filmmakers the ultimate in acquisition flexibility, expressed in the operator-controllable selection of EFP-quality 4:2:2 sampled DVCPRO50 or classic 4:1:1 sampled DVCPRO recording, with support for native 16:9 wide-screen. The AJ-SDX900 combines in one camera the "look" and "feel" of electronic film, high-performance 525-line field production, and low-cost NTSC compatible news. It is also the first 50Mbps 4:2:2 sampled standard definition camcorder to offer 24 frames-per-second progressive scan (480/24p) acquisition, in addition to 30 frames-per-second progressive (480/30p) and 60-fields-per-second interlace scan (480/60i) capture.

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 company of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the North American headquarters of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC) of Japan, and the hub of its U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the company's web site at http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast

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