(SECAUCUS, NJ -- September 6, 2006) RileyArnold Productions, a full-service film & video production studio headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, has become a dedicated proponent of Panasonic DVCPRO HD, and uses it with award-winning results in both its tape-based and tapeless versions.
Earlier this summer, RileyArnold received the Platinum Best of Show designation in the Aurora Awards, an international film and video contest, for its "Homes of Distinction," a promotional piece shot with Panasonic's AJ-HDC27 VariCam® HD Cinema camera for luxury homebuilder Landmark Development Group. Another recent high-profile project was a debut music video for Nashville up-and-comer Clara Oman, shot with Panasonic's AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder.
"For the past year and a half, we've used the VariCam and HVX200 cameras on music videos, promotional short films and TV commercials," said Brian Satchfield, RileyArnold film and video production manager. "We've determined that anything that would normally be shot on film can just as effectively be shot on DVCPRO HD whenever the budget doesn't support the costs of shooting on film. In fact, in some of our bids, we've encouraged clients to shoot on the VariCam even when they were prepared to shoot on film."
The studio's first foray into HD acquisition was in spring 2005, when RileyArnold rented three VariCams to shoot footage at the wedding of country music star Billy Dean. Ultimately, the material was used for the music video for the single "Slow Motion" featured on Dean's current release, "Let Them Be Little."
"Initially, our plan was to shoot with film cameras," Satchfield explained, "but Billy's wedding was the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby and there wasn't a single 35mm film camera available in all of Nashville. Director Richard Riley asked if we could shoot with the VariCam, and I knew that Final Cut Pro HD, our NLE of choice, was set up to work with DVCPRO HD natively. I figured this was the perfect opportunity for us to jump head first into full-blown HD production."
"Everyone who has seen the ‘Slow Motion' music video has been overwhelmed by the color rendition and saturation," he added. "They always ask what I did to make it look like that and the truth is that I didn't add any saturation processing at all--the camera recorded the rich color palette of the garden park where we shot completely true-to-life. It's quite amazing, especially considering that the only lighting equipment we used on the shoot was a couple of reflectors!"
Fast-forward a year, to the spring of 2006, and Billy Dean's protégé, Clara Oman, is poised to record her first music video (entitled "Forgetful Me"), an assignment that RileyArnold won handily. "The project came along just as we were preparing to purchase an HVX200, so it was ideal timing," Satchfield noted.
"We spent one full day shooting in our studio under tungsten lighting, using a variety of shooting techniques including on a tripod, handheld, on a crane and on a dolly," Satchfield said. "The HVX200 performed flawlessly, especially considering that no one on the crew had any experience with it. We used a 4" LCD monitor and a remote zoom control as the only accessories. The DP was very comfortable shooting with the camera, and as the camera assistant, I had no problems preparing the camera for each setup."
"The second day of shooting was spent mostly outside on Clearwater Beach. We shot scenes on a wooden boardwalk, scenes along the shoreline and scenes from one moving vehicle to another, all in the bright Florida sun," he continued. "Again, the camera worked flawlessly and allowed us to move quickly from shot to shot using handheld and tripod techniques. The rest of the second day of shooting was back inside the studio doing green screen work--another good use for DVCPRO HD as opposed to more compressed formats."
"The variable speed recording is a great feature of the HVX200," Satchfield noted. "We recorded many of our beach scenes at 48 fps, so we could have the option of running them half speed without having to use an effect in post. Scenes of waves crashing along the shore set to play in slow motion look just as if they were shot on film. We also used a lower frame rate to capture background plates of a wooden boardwalk with clouds passing by overhead."
In terms of workflow on location, Satchfield said that they used two 8GB P2 cards recording in the 24P Native mode and transferred data to computers as the cards filled up.
"When a card was full, we removed it from the camera and continued shooting on the second card," he described. "The first card was inserted into the PCMCIA slot of a PowerBook G4, where the data was copied to an external FireWire drive connected to the PowerBook. If we were shooting in the studio, the external FireWire drive was immediately disconnected from the PowerBook after data transfer and connected to a G5 workstation running Final Cut Pro HD, where the files were then copied to the FCP media hard drive array. The files were imported into FCP and reviewed to ensure integrity and then the card was put back in the camera, ready for the next set of recordings. If we were not in the studio, the card data was simply copied to the external FireWire drive for safekeeping until returning to the studio. The PowerBook always had a charged battery ready and the external FireWire drive is bus-powered; this allowed us to remain completely portable and not be dependent on AC power while out in the field."
"We're aware of the FireStore FS-100 and Panasonic's P2 Store drives and will consider purchasing those in the future," Satchfield added. "We're also very interested in the abundance of accessories available for the HVX200."
He pointed out that editing HVX200 material is "no different from ingesting the footage from DVCPRO HD tapes, or even standard definition DV tapes for that matter."
"That's part of what makes the format so desirable for us - it's very easy to work with," Satchfield said. "You don't even have to have an expensive hard drive array to work with DVCPRO HD. When we first started working with the format, we were simply using a single FireWire 800 external drive to store our HD footage and had no problems at all. We couldn't get as many real-time effects and processing as we now do with an Xserve RAID or similar system, but we were easily able to play back multiple video tracks, especially when using 24fps footage."
"Our projects are typically finished on DVD, broadcast master tapes or as web video formats," he noted. "We normally master our DVD projects using anamorphic 16x9 video to get the most out of the high-definition, widescreen format. For broadcast, we usually master to Digital Betacam and create a letterboxed version of the spot or program in SD. Again, the DVCPRO HD-originated footage makes the SD letterboxed video look better than if it was originally captured in SD, and with the 24p cadence, it's very easy to get a film look. For web video, we can generate QuickTime, Flash, Windows Media or Real Video files, depending on the client's needs."
"More recently, we've been offering our finished HD projects for use on video iPods," Satchfield said. "Even though the iPod version is only 320x240 pixels - and letterboxed at that - the image quality is surprisingly accurate. We have a few clients who like to keep their finished videos with them on their iPods so they have it ready to show at any given time. We've also been putting our finished products on our own video iPod so we always have our demo reel with us. It's a good way to show potential clients how to repurpose their video productions in multiple formats, and the DVCPRO HD projects look just great on the iPod."
"The HVX200 is a good fit for our RileyArnold projects for a variety of reasons," he concluded. "Beyond our overall comfort level with the DVCPRO HD format, the HVX200 offers great quality, seamless workflow with Final Cut Pro HD, progressive scanning recording and variable frame rate recording. It's also pretty robust when doing compositing, color correction and effects."
For more information on RileyArnold Productions, visit the company's website at http://www.rileyarnold.com
Panasonic's AJ-HDC27 VariCam replicates many of the key features of film-based image acquisition, including 24-frame progressive scan images, time lapse recording, and a wide range of variable frame rates (4-fps to 60-fps in single-frame increments) for "overcranked" and "undercranked" off-speed in-camera effects. The AJ-HDC27 VariCam also features CineGamma™ software that permits Panasonic's HD Cinema camera systems to more closely match the latitude of film stocks.
The ultra-versatile HVX200 records in 1080i and 720p in production-proven 100 Mbps DVCPRO HD quality, with the ability to capture images in 21 record modes. The DVCPRO HD format offers users cost-effective, intra-frame compression, where each frame stands on its own for editing, and its full 4:2:2 color sampling allows the image to hold up under color correction. The camera records video on a P2 card as IT-friendly MXF files in 1080/60i, 30p and 24p; in 720/60p, 30p and 24p; in 50Mbps DVCPRO50 and in 25Mbps DVCPRO or DV. The HVX200 can capture fast or slow action in 720p at various frame rates--the first time this function is available in a hand-held camera. The shooting frame rate in 720p native mode can be set for any of 11 steps between 12fps and 60fps including 24fps and 30fps.
For more information on the AG-HVX200, visit http://www.panasonic.com/hvx200
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