(Secaucus, New Jersey--September 10, 2009) Manhattan-based creative services company Late Night and Weekends (New York, NY) has produced a wide-ranging advertising initiative for Gap 1969 premium jeans that features theatrical and web video elements shot with the VariCam 3700, Panasonic’s premier solid-state P2 HD VariCam camcorder.
Offering the ultimate in image quality, the VariCam 3700 (model AJ-HPX3700) advances the art of high-end cinematography by teaming VariCam’s renowned filmic-look, variable frame rates, and subtle tone control with master-quality, 10-bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording as well as Dual link RGB 4:4:4 output.
The ‘Gap Born to Fit’ campaign, viewable at http://www.borntofit.com
and in movie theatres across the country, was directed by Late Night and Weekends’ Andrew Zuckerman, who also photographed the print ads. Late Night’s Alex Vlack was executive producer, with Eddie Marritz as Director of Photography.
“Gap Born to Fit’ is a subtle celebration of the personal style of 10 artists and entrepreneurs who at a relatively young age have achieved lifetime goals. They include photographer Anna Gaskell, actors Alessandro Nivola, Sonya Walger, Ebon Moss-Bachrach and Eisa Davis, musicians Anni Rossi and Cassidy, Tom Szaky (founder of TerraCycle), Melissa Kushner (founder of Goods for Good), and Gap fashion designer Patrick Robinson.
According to DP Marritz, the challenge for the cinematographer was to emulate the classic elegance of Zuckerman’s photography, an aesthetic he established in such books as Creature and, especially, Wisdom, a record of a multicultural group of people who have all made their mark on the world. The subjects’ portraits in Wisdom were all photographed by Zuckerman against the same white space, as were the subjects of the Gap ads.
“As we would be shooting against a white cyc wall, I was interested in a camera with extended dynamic range, and because of the demands of projection in movie theatres, I wanted to shoot 4:4:4 in 1080p, criteria that led us to the HPX3700, “Marritz said. “ I also had experience with Panasonic HD cameras, having shot a Puma ‘meta new wave’ industrial with the AG-HVX200 P2 HD handheld (with Zuckerman and Vlack) and video for the Centers for Disease Control with the original VariCam. There are a lot of things I like about Panasonic cameras, especially the color palette.”
Veteran independent cinematographer Marritz specializes in documentary features, for which he has been widely honored. His credits include the Oscar-winner Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision, and Emmy nominee for Best Cinematography, In Memoriam: 9/11 New York City for HBO. He was the DP for the celebrated 2008 theatrical release Young@Heart (Fox Searchlight), and he recently completed photography on Mysterious Human Heart for PBS, which received an Emmy for Best Science Series, 2008. Upcoming is the documentary Still Bill, directed by Vlack and Damani Baker.
“Born to Fit’ was shot in June at Silver Cup East (Long Island City, NY). Three days of shooting were preceded by one day of pre-lighting. The production rented three AJ-HPX3700s from Abel Cine Tech (New York, NY). There were 10 discrete sessions with the subjects, who sat on the same plain wooden stool against the white cyc as Zuckerman engaged them in unscripted conversation about their work. There is no mention of the product, other than the visual reference of their all wearing Gap 1969 jeans.
“We had one HPX3700 with a Zeiss DigiPrime lens stable in front for a wide shot, a second camcorder with a Zeiss DigiZoom also in a fixed position up front for close ups, and the third with a Zeiss DigiZoom on a tracking dolly for 180 degree shots,” said Marritz, who operated the tracking camera. “We shot at F 2.5. I feel that shooting close to wide open is kinder to faces and focuses the viewers’ attention where I want them to be looking.”
“Unlike a lot of three-camera shoots, Andrew didn’t call specific shots on headsets from a remote location,” he continued. “He wanted to establish an intimate, on set connection with the talent. Based on our past experience, Andrew trusted me to follow the conversation and know when to feature the jeans, hands, and faces. The subjects were unadorned, talking spontaneously about themselves and their work. There was no filtration; we wanted everything as palpable as possible. We lit simply, with a high, soft key over the subjects and a soft bottom source: we wanted to see these people as straightforwardly as possible, see the light in their eyes and make a visual connection.
“And because this was a jeans commercial, we needed to be loving the product as well. We largely used the tracking shots to lend a tactile sense to the denim. Altogether, this was the cleanest video I’ve ever shot and very extraordinary.”
“I felt the challenge was in shooting a curved white cyc from a dolly track that had an opposing curve, because it produced a somewhat round environment,” said Digital Imaging Technician Robert Strait. “It can be difficult to reproduce a flat white background for all those camera angles while also making people of various skin tones look beautiful and natural. We took advantage of the HPX3700’s Film-Rec 600% setting for extended latitude and grey scale, which help create a very soft and filmic look, and coupled with the true 1080p/4:4:4 output gave us adequate information for printing to film. It was a huge benefit that I could tweak white shading through the camera’s paint box, allowing me to correct imperfections in the cyc and produce a perfectly white horizontal/vertical and edge-to-edge camera response.”
“Because the HPX3700 has multiple outputs, I was able to monitor the internal camera menus independent of the 4:4:4 recording while also providing a 4:2:2 signal to the ACs’ onboard HD monitors,” Strait added.
The HPX3700s recorded the uncompressed 4:4:4 signal to HD tape decks. The edit began on the set to accommodate a fast turnaround as well as the clients’ interest in how the free-ranging content would evolve. Editors Jon Fine and Geoff Gruetzmacher supervised the Final Cut Pro edit.
“The pieces look really wonderful,” said executive producer Vlack. “The HPX3700s were great in their ability to take all the lenses. The cameras were affordable, and we didn’t need a big camera crew.”
“The HPX3700 is at the top of the heap, and I’d use it again in a second,” said Marritz. “Ultimately, the imperative for me was to create a video equivalent to Andrew’s distinctive photographic style. The HPX3700 enabled us to achieve video every bit as classic as the still portraiture, with extremely sympathetic imagery.”
For more information about Late Night and Weekends, visit http://www.latenightandweekends.com
. For more information about DP Eddie Marritz, visit http://www.marritz.com
About the VariCam 3700
Combining uncompromising cinematic quality, film-style operability and the exceptional reliability of solid-state, file-based recording, the VariCam 3700 provides premium-quality performance for narrative feature films, episodic television and commercial production. The 2/3” 2.2 megapixel 3-CCD camera features full native 1920x1080-pixel acquisition and independent-frame recording with 10-bit, 4:2:2 color sub sampling. It records in full-raster 1920x1080 resolution in AVC-Intra 100 for the highest quality, in lower-bit-rate AVC-Intra 50 for extended recording and in DVCPRO HD for added flexibility. The HPX3700 outputs a 4:4:4 RGB dual-link live signal (via HD-SDI) to deliver pristine images for uncompressed workflows and composition of visual effects, while simultaneously recording 4:2:2 HD video in camera. The HPX3700 offers variable frame rates from 1fps to 30fps in single frame increments for overcranking and undercranking. For more information, visit http://www.panasonic.com/P2HD
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 of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC) and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast