(SECAUCUS, New Jersey--December 7, 2007) The Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose intoxicating blend of punk and funk has made them one of alternative rock’s top bands, enjoyed a monster success with their most recent CD, the double album “Stadium Arcadium (Warner Bros.),” which debuted at number one and went on to go double platinum and win four Grammy Awards.
Renowned for their explosive theatricality, the group chose Director/DP David Hausen to produce “making of” documentaries of three music videos from the album, all shot with Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorders.
The three behind-the-scenes projects, excerpts of which appeared on the MTV and Fuse networks, formed the basis of the feature-length documentary Red Hot Chili Peppers: Untitled Documentary, with Hausen once again serving as Director/DP. Red Hot Chili Peppers: Untitled Documentary was an official selection of this year’s Zurich and Warsaw International Film Festivals, a winner of an Angel Award at the Monaco International Film Festival, and is scheduled for a full slate of 2008 festival showings. The documentary was produced by Rocky Ziegler and Hausen’s company, Surreel Inc. (New York, NY and Hollywood, CA).
The guaranteed drama of a Red Hot Chili Peppers performance had attracted top filmmakers to direct the “Stadium Arcadium” music videos: Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine) shot “Tell Me Baby”; comedian Chris Rock shot “Hump de Bump”; and Tony Kaye (American History X, Blackwater Transit) shot “Dani, California.” Red Hot Chili Peppers: Untitled Documentary chronicles the artistic collaboration and lively discussions between the four members of the band (Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith and John Frusciante) and their prominent music video directors.
All the discrete documentaries were multi-camera shoots, with a minimum of two HVX200s on each set. “Once we’d shot the behind-the-scenes projects, we had more than 60 hours of unscripted band footage, and we felt it deserved feature-length treatment,” producer Ziegler said.
“’Dani, California’ was the first assignment, shot early in 2006,” Hausen said. “I’d been a longtime Panasonic DVX100 shooter, and had just purchased the HVX200. Imagine, this was a new client, and I was shooting with a camera I’d had for less than a week—and there was no tape. I was anxious, but our workflow was just about perfect. We had two 15” PowerBooks on the set. We’d take a P2 card and import on one of the PowerBooks to verify and check footage; then we’d take the same card and copy the raw data on the second PowerBook to a 500 GB external drive.”
On the subsequent shoots, Hausen introduced the AJ-PCS060 P2 Store portable hard disk unit, and used a MacBook Pro with Duel Systems adapter.
“On location, our film loader Noah Berlow downloaded and logged footage while we were shooting, giving me a chance to review what the camera operators were doing on set and tailor my questions with the band members,” Hausen said.
“The performance of the HVX200 was jaw-dropping. On “Dani,’ we shot almost exclusively indoors, sometimes in low-light, and I’d contend that the HVX200 will outperform a 16mm camera in limited light. The fact that you can gain a full stop by shooting a 1/24th of a second shutter speed is huge--the best you can do on 16mm is 1/48 at 24fps,” the director/DP noted. “The HVX200 weighs a fraction of a full-sized camera, which was a huge benefit during our long ‘rock-star time’ days. It was easy to sync the cameras, and I loved the ability to play back any shot with no time code breaks or need to queue up. And you never had to worry about recording over previously-recorded material.”
“The camera is astounding in its ruggedness,” Hausen added. “Chris Rock had Anthony Kiedis and Flea dancing with two women in a high-energy shaking style. I thought it would be interesting to see if we could do a shot where the camera would shake in rhythm to the playback track of ‘Hump de Bump.’ What better way to get the exact vibrations then to place the camera on top of the blasting, vibrating playback speaker?
“I never would have dared this with a conventional straight-to-tape camera (risking drop outs, hits, damage to tape), but since the HVX200 has no moving parts, when we shot using a high shutter speed and resting the camera on top of the tremendous vibrations of the speaker the camera performed flawlessly, creating some truly impressive footage.”
Hausen said that he shot considerable off-speed footage, which was used under the end credits of the documentary, “an opportune time to show off the gorgeous slow motion footage from all of the shoots.”
“We walked off each set ready to edit, having roughed out sequences and pulled selects, dramatically accelerating our post process,” Hausen recounted. “The documentary was edited in HD on Final Cut Pro with editors Giacomo Ambrosini, Marco Escalante and associate editor David Etkin. Since Surreel is based in Tribeca and Hollywood, we copied material to two drives with identical names, which allowed a free flow exchange of ideas and edits.”
“I just spoke on a panel with Chris Gore (www.filmthreat.com) and showed trailers of Surreel’s upcoming HVX200 work,” Hausen said. “One of the inevitable questions that came up was regarding format. I explained that content is king, but the HVX200 by far offers the best quality and value and gives you back a paintbrush that film has, namely true in-camera slow motion.”
“People voiced concerns about archiving P2 footage,” he continued, “but Surreel has come up with what we consider an elegant, practical solution. We have close to 15 terabytes of storage distributed on over 50 hard drives in New York, Los Angeles and Paris. (This may sound daunting but compare that to an equivalent HD tape library of over 1000 tapes that would require a deck to access, and digitizing/capture prior to editing.) Faced with the task of organizing this tremendous amount of material, our assistant editor Adam Bernier found one of the best applications for the process, a shareware application known as Alias Disk, which allowed us to create a database/alias of every one of our drives. So rather than having our editors plug and unplug over 50 drives, all that needs to be done is to search this one folder for the file they need. Editors can see which drive needs to be mounted and can check the contents of a drive from anywhere in the world without needing physical access to the media.”
Hausen came up through the ranks as a Director of Photography of features, documentaries and music videos (Stone Temple Pilots, Shania Twain, Metallica) prior to establishing his own company. Current HVX200 projects include upcoming feature documentaries about the art of Keith Haring and the legendary hip-hop artist Flavor Flav, as well as a documentary treatment, Chemistry of Collaboration, about failed artistic collaborations, all of which Hausen is directing and DP’ing. Surreel Inc. has recently produced live, multi-camera HVX200 shoots covering jazz artists Waverly Seven, Anat Cohen and the Anzic Orchestra, a music video for the all-female heavy metal band Kittie, and a short film for the New York Times, all on the HVX200
For more information about Red Hot Chili Peppers: Untitled Documentary, visit http://surreel.com/rhcp
; a trailer can be viewed at http://www.surreel.com
About the AG-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 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