(SECAUCUS, New Jersey--October 31, 2007) "Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour", a big-screen ghost story shot with Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorder, opened nationwide in theaters October 19, just in time for Halloween fun and spookiness. Introducing young actress Rissa Walters as the curious Sarah, the feature is being distributed on 35mm and digital prints through Freestyle Releasing (Malibu, CA).
was directed by Lisa Comrie with a screenplay by herself and John Comrie; the executive producer is Freestyle’s Mark Borde.
In this first in a series of Sarah Landon mysteries, the 17-year-old heroine is in over her head. Staying far away from home with her late friend’s grandmother, Sarah realizes she’s sleeping in a haunted guest house and that she’s just uncovered a small town's dark secret.
Director of Photography Andrew Kuepper, whose extensive resume includes camerawork on many primetime television shows (Veronica Mars, Kitchen Confidential
) and commercial spots, chose to outfit the HVX200 with Redrock Microsystems’ M2 cinema lens adapter. The M2 allows 35mm lenses to be used with HD video cameras such as the HVX200 to create incredible depth-of-field, angle of view, and focus characteristic of high-end film productions.
“I wanted to do something different from a standard 35mm print film,” DP Kuepper said. “I saw some unique advantages in the HVX200 and few liabilities with the format. After shooting some tests, I was confident the HVX200/Redrock combo would give me the cinema-like look I was after.”
“Coming from a film background, I am usually disappointed with dynamic range and color from a video camera, but the HVX200 was surprisingly close to what I was used to in film,” the DP continued. “The blacks stayed nice and black, and I really liked the color renditioning. The film was shot in Cine-D curve, and I added +1 to the chroma. Other than that, I shot the entire feature almost ‘stock.’ There was very little post correction done in the final print. The HVX200's look held up the whole way through and I really liked it."
director Lisa Comrie explained that this was a scaled-up production, with a full lighting and grip packages, comprising a five-ton grip truck package and a five-ton electric truck package with 500amp generator. The crew used 20k tungsten lights to light up the night in concert with 5k and 2k open face and Fresnel lights. Daylight exteriors were lit with 12k, 4k, 2.5k and 1200w HMIs by LTM. A Chameleon hydraulic dolly package was used on tracks for moving shots along with a Steadicam operated by Mario Ortiz of Cinema Verde Productions, supplier of the production packages.
is set in Pine Valley, CA, where the majority of the film was shot. Sarah’s “haunted house” was actually a local schoolhouse built in the 1800s that is rumored to be haunted.
“Except for a few aerial shots, we shot the 88-minute feature entirely on the HVX200,” Comrie said. “We purchased two cameras so that we could keep one on set for back-up and shoot with the other. Owning the camera was a real benefit, especially during editing -- when we needed to go out and do pick-up shots, it was very convenient and inexpensive.”
“The HVX200 delivered amazing images and I am extremely pleased with how it turned out on 35mm!” she added.
“At the time of our shoot, we had four P2 cards, two 8GB and two 4GB. Shooting at 720pN we had enough capture time to make things work,” Kuepper said. “When a card was full it was immediately sent back to our ‘loader’ for storage. The card went from the camera to a P2 Store, where it was verified in the fastest way possible. From there, the footage was ingested into a laptop and eye-checked in Final Cut Pro. After the clip was determined to be OK, it was then backed-up on-set on a terabyte file server. At wrap back at the office, the server clips were again backed up onto another server.”
“The ability to review a take ended up being a powerful tool,” Kuepper noted. “Because I was operating as well as D.P.-ing, I would jump off the dolly and watch a completed shot, allowing me to have another set of eyes watching for gear in the shot, and also to check focus one last time before we called it a take. With film, you can't really do this, and now with the P2 technology it's a no-brainer.”
“We had a few sequences that lent themselves to off-speed shooting,” he continued. “I'm really impressed by the HVX200’s ability to do this. Being able to review the off-speed in real-time on set is a powerful tool as well. A lot of people make the mistake of shooting normal speed and shutter and attempting to add slow motion in post, which to my eye always looks horrible. Finally, we have a camera that can do it on set, in front of our eyes, where we can make it look acceptable.”
“I'd never been a real fan of any video format, but the HVX200 has changed that opinion,” Kuepper added.
For more information about Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour
, visit http://www.sarahlandon.com
About the HVX200
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 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