HPX500 Documents Life Aboard U.S.Coast Guard's Largest Tall Ship

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Last Updated: September 27, 2007 11:04 pm GMT
AG-HVX200 Used as Second Camera for Documentary on Contemporary Seafaring Life

(SECAUCUS, NJ - September 27, 2007) To capture life aboard the U.S. Coast Guard's largest tall ship, the Barque Eagle Cutter, filmmaker Stuart Huggins and his new Panasonic AG-HPX500 shoulder-mounted, 2/3" P2 HD camcorder spent weeks at sea on the historic square-rigged sailing vessel, the only one of its type in the entire U.S. fleet.

Filmmaker Huggins of TADD Productions (Marietta, GA) was invited by the U.S. Coast Guard to shoot onboard the Cutter Barque Eagle (295 feet in length with the tallest mast at 147 feet) for two weeks in July, with the objective of producing a feature-length "behind the scenes" documentary about the tall ship, which serves as a seagoing classroom for future officers of the Coast Guard. The Eagle's permanent crew of six officers and 54 enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round and provide the seamanship and leadership knowledge that train up to 150 cadets or officer candidates for their future positions as Coast Guard leaders.

The Coast Guard singled Huggins out based on a high-definition production he'd shot for the Coastal Georgia Historical Society highlighting both the natural history of the Georgia barrier islands and the maritime history of the former Coast Guard Station, St. Simons Island (now a Maritime Museum). The project, entirely shot with Huggins' AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorder, was the recipient of three national Telly Awards, including a Silver for Cinematography.

Huggins sailed with the Eagle from Veracruz, Mexico to Miami, FL. "We shot with both the HPX500 and the HVX200," the filmmaker said. "The HPX500 offered stability--not only physical stability, but also image stability. We knew we could count on every shot, regardless of light conditions, salty sea spray or heavy winds and rain. We used one of the new Canon HDgc lenses with the HPX500, and because it's a longer lens, we were able to shoot distinctly clear shots from practically every angle at every distance.

"The HVX200 was a great complement to the HPX500. Because of its size and weight, we carried the smaller camera as high as 120 feet in the rigging and sails, and shot a number of sailing evolutions from that angle. We were also able to take the HVX200 into all of the cramped, low-lit spaces below deck."

"We got a chance to see Eagle from an even higher perspective," Huggins continued. "Toward the end of our cruise, we rendezvoused with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, a 210-foot medium endurance vessel patrolling the Florida Straits. From the Diligence helicopter pad, we flew aloft in a Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter and used the HPX500 to shoot the Eagle in full sail from the helo's starboard door."

The trip presented extremes of motion, salinity and heat. "During the heat of the day, the temperatures consistently hovered over 100 degrees Fahrenheit," Huggins recounted. "Because of the P2 cards, we didn't have to worry about tape or tape head problems. We were able to shoot continuously as we had an ample supply of P2 cards and portable drives for backup."

"Because of the salty environment, we shipped all of our equipment in air-tight, waterproof Pelican cases which we kept on the deck at all times," he added. "We also had covers for both cameras which helped protect them from salt spray, sweat and atmospheric moisture. Due to the constant (and occasionally violent) motion of the seas, we secured the HPX500 with a heavy duty tripod and 10 pound weights for each tripod leg. Along with a fluid head, this enabled us to get highly stable shots practically anywhere onboard, including more than 20 interviews conducted on the fantail."

"The HPX500 performed consistently well under all lighting conditions," the filmmaker noted. "In the early morning and late evening hours, we were able to capture all of the warm hues of the cloudy and hazy skies while the sun was rising and setting. After the sun passed over the horizon, we were able to capture the cool shades of the clear night sky illuminated by a quarter moon. We were pleased with the warm skin tone rendering of our subjects, even in the harshest midday light. We also noticed that the HPX500 preserved accurate detail and color rendering in everything from rust flakes on the anchor chains to individual stitches in the largest of sails."

"My goal with this production was to have a cinematic look and feel, and I was impressed with the advanced gamma functions of the HPX500," Huggins said. "With both the HPX500 and the HVX200, we were able to set gamma modes to either 'CINE-LIKE_D' (dynamic range priority) or 'CINE-LIKE_V' (contrast priority) depending on the lighting conditions. We could easily modify these settings to suit our interests and to take advantage of these VariCam-style features. We could also store camera settings and user files via an SD card, with which both cameras are equipped. This allowed us to quickly recall both the camera and user settings without a lot of setup time."

Huggins recorded the entire shoot in DVCPRO HD 720p Native (24fps). "We occasionally shot using variable frame rates depending on the mood and/or requirements of the situation," he said. "While we were moored in Veracruz, we shot a couple of time lapse sunrises. With the four-slot HPX500 and 8GB cards, we were able to shoot continuously at 720pN for 80 minutes."

On his two-week journey, the filmmaker logged over 40 hours of footage using his 17" Apple MacBook Pro, a Duel Systems DuelAdapter, (for offloading P2 cards), Imagine Products' HDLog logging software, and a number of portable LaCie 7200 rpm hard drives. He is utilizing Final Cut Studio 2 for all editing and finishing. He intends to complete a feature-length documentary for presentation to broadcast outlets
(including The History Channel, Discovery, HBO and Showtime), and for distribution throughout military exchanges and other retail outlets. In the short term, he plans to enter a 10-minute short about the history of the Eagle in a festival competition.

"I've always been an early adopter of technology, and am usually prepared for the potentially higher returns with a significant amount of risk," Huggins said. "However, with the HPX500, Panasonic has far exceeded my expectations. The camera performed flawlessly, and I continue to be impressed and comfortable with the P2 workflow."

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 the HVX200
The ultra-versatile AG-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 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 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.

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