Digital Lighthouse Shoots CBS Sports Interviews With HDX900

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Last Updated: October 4, 2007 5:10 pm GMT
Gainesville, FL-Based Facility Teams HVX200 P2 HD Camcorder with HDX900

(SECAUCUS, NJ --October 4, 2007) Digital Lighthouse Productions of Gainesville, FL, has invested in Panasonic's AJ-HDX900 multi-format DVCPRO HD camcorder, which company principal Dan Spiess is currently using on a recurring assignment for CBS Sports at the University of Florida, shooting Media Day interviews of the Florida Gator football coach and players.

Other recent HDX900 projects include the video portion of a traveling museum exhibit (for the Florida Museum of Natural History), a fundraising video for the regional United Way, and recruiting videos for WyoTech technical schools. Lighthouse's field production package also includes Panasonic's AG-HVX200 handheld P2 HD camcorder and BT-LH900A LCD HD field monitor with built-in waveform.

Spiess, a longtime proponent of DVCPRO-based production, has been producing, shooting and editing video for 35 years, working on diverse projects including major live event broadcasts, television news reporting, documentaries, corporate videos, training and instructional videos. He has won numerous awards including a regional Emmy for his work.

Lighthouse's ongoing production work for the University of Florida's Athletic Department and renowned Documentary Institute has always been driven by Panasonic DVCPRO gear, beginning in 1998. Over the past nine years, Lighthouse has worked for most of the major networks, numerous large corporations, and a number of non-profits.

Spiess said the HDX900 is the ideal choice for high-profile jobs. "First, the HDX900 shoots beautiful pictures. Couple that with a Fuji 13X4.5 super wide angle zoom lens, and the pictures are breathtaking," he said. "The camera has the look, the feel, and the controls where I expect to find them, plus a slew of menu options that are well laid out and easy to get to. Shooting with this camera, whether at a NHRA Gatornationals drag racing event (for WyoTech), or in a lab at U.F. where they are studying sharks (for the Florida Museum of Natural History), has been a joy."

"The quality, low light sensitivity and the sharpness of the HDX900 2/3" chip set was a key factor in our purchase decision," Spiess noted. "I can't stress enough how important it is to have 2/3" chips for low light shooting. The smaller chip cameras look fine when there's a lot of light, but we routinely get asked to shoot where there isn't much light, and that is where the HDX900 shines.

"We also wanted a tape deck as part of the camera, as some of our work requires sending the footage to clients in remote locations," Spiess continued. "The HDX900 seemed like the perfect camera for today, as it records on tape, but offers a FireWire connection so we can record directly to a hard drive if the job requires it. That kind of flexibility is critical in surviving and thriving in today's competitive market. A concrete example of that is the Media Day shoots for CBS Sports -- we wouldn't have that job if we couldn't send the HD tape to the producer who's out of state."

Spiess purchased the HVX200 in partnership with a DP colleague in 2005, shortly after the camera began shipping. "That started Lighthouse's transition to HD," he said. "We upgraded our two Final Cut Studio suites with AJA Kona LH I/O cards, purchased HD monitors and hard drive arrays, and bought the AJ-HD1200A DVCPRO HD deck. Having the HD deck made the choice to go with the HDX900 an easy one."

"The HDX900 and HVX200 work incredibly well together," Spiess continued. "It's such a luxury these days to have a small form-factor HD camera that shoots the same format as your large HD camera. No one else has that sweet combination. You can get footage from the HVX200 that you just can't with the HDX900 — such as variable frame rate shots — and the HVX200's smaller size allows you to put it in places you can't get to with a larger camera.

"We recently used the cameras together on a shoot for the museum in a creek bed where kids where looking for sharks' teeth," said Spiess. "The HVX200's size allowed us to use a smaller jib that was a more cost-effective choice. The footage mixed so well that it was hard to tell the difference between the two."

Spiess said he tends to favor the cameras' film-like looks, and appreciates the ability to shoot in different frame rates.

"Progressive is a look we just love," he said. "Of note here is how versatile it is to have an HD deck like the HD1200A. We can shoot true 24p frames with either camera, edit it on a true 24p timeline, be able to transfer via FireWire to the HD1200A deck, and then the deck adds the 3:2 pull down automatically when recording the footage off our editing timeline. This is a big timesaver and keeps the 24p look consistent throughout the production process."

"We also value the convenience of the downconvert functions of the HD1200A, which allows us to shoot every production now in HD, edit in HD, which clients love, transfer to the HD1200A via FireWire, then do a downconvert dub to our AJ-SD93 deck," Spiess added. "The HD1200A gives us the option to dub the HD footage to SD letterbox, or cut off the sides for a 4:3 SD dub. That is so much quicker than rendering out a SD version of a video, yet keeps the quality and look of a HD shoot on a SD production. Our clients consistently praise the look we are getting from the cameras."

"We have found that once clients see how much better their video can look if shot in HD, most are willing to spend a bit more to future proof their videos," Spiess said. "The HVX200 fits an interesting niche for us in this regard. In a smaller market such as ours, not every client can afford the costs of shooting a production with the HDX900, but the HVX200 gives us the option to shoot for less. So every shoot we do now is shot in HD, whether on the HVX200 or the HDX900."

For more information about Lighthouse Video Productions, visit www.lighthousetv.com.

About the AJ-HDX900
An indispensable, cost-effective tool for global content creators, the AJ-HDX900 DVCPRO HD supports 1080 59.94i/50i/29.97p/25p/23.98p/23.98pA and 720 59.94p/50p/29.97p/25p/23.98p recording. The HDX900 features a native 16:9, 2/3" HD, 1-million pixel 3-CCD system that assures stunning images and produces a high sensitivity of F10 (at 2000 lux) and outstanding low-light shooting down to 0.032 lux (at+62 dB gain). It is equipped with 14-bit A/D DSP circuits that provide optimum picture quality, color reproduction and luminance gradation. The HDX900 offers superior 4:2:2 color sampling and independent frame compression. The well-balanced camcorder offers impressive built-in, image-enhancing features including three Cine-like gamma modes to replicate the look and feel of film, and is compatible with a wide range 2/3" quality lenses and accessories.

About the AG-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 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.


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, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast

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