Ice Cube's 'Straight Outta L.A.' Shot With AJ-HPX2700 P2 VariCam

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Last Updated: March 18, 2010 7:51 pm GMT
(Secaucus, New Jersey--March 18, 2010) "Straight Outta L.A.", a portrait of the 1980s’ Los Angeles Raiders directed by rapper-turned-filmmaker Ice Cube, was shot with Panasonic VariCam 2700 P2 HD camcorders; the Director of Photography is Alex Van Wagner.

A production of Hunting Lane Films (West Hollywood, CA), Straight Outta L.A. will be aired Tuesday, May 11 as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” film project ( http://30for30.espn.com ), a unique undertaking to celebrate the network’s 30th anniversary by engaging well-known filmmakers to create documentaries centered on the last 30 years in sports.

Designed as a premium-quality, workhorse HD cinematography camcorder, the VariCam 2700 shines in a wide range of mission-critical content creation applications, from sports and films to music videos and television commercials. The camcorder combines VariCam’s renowned filmic-look with key functions including variable frame rates, wide dynamic range and advanced master-quality, 10-bit 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording.

Straight Outta L.A. covers the epoch in the Raiders franchise when owner Al Davis beat the NFL in court and moved his team from Oakland to Los Angeles (In 1995, after 13 seasons in Los Angeles, Davis moved the team back to Oakland.). With a squad as colorful as its owner, the Raiders captivated a large number of African-American and Hispanic fans in L.A. at a time when gang warfare, immigration and the real estate boom were rapidly changing the city. The L.A. Raiders morphed into a worldwide brand as the team’s colors, swagger and anti-establishment ethos became linked with “gangsta rap” and the hip-hop scene that was permeating South Central Los Angeles. Director Ice Cube was not only witness to this evolution, he was also a part of it as a member of the notorious and influential rap group N.W.A. Still a die-hard Raiders fan, Ice Cube explores the unlikely, fleeting marriage between the NFL’s rebel franchise and America’s glamour city.

The one-hour documentary is laden with interviews with musicians, pop culture commentators and football luminaries. Subjects included former N.W.A. member MC Ren (N.W.A.’s album Straight Outta Compton marked the beginning of the gangsta rap era and is an obvious influence on the project); producer/rapper Snoop Dogg; football’s John Madden (who coached the Raiders for 10 seasons), and former players Greg Townsend and Marcus Allen, among others. Location work encompassed shooting Ice Cube at the L.A. Coliseum, the site of the Raider’s Southern California play, as well as numerous B-roll scenics that will play as vignettes during the interviews.

DP Van Wagner has worked broadly with Panasonic tape-based HD cameras, notably on reality programming, but Straight Outta L.A. marked his fist experience with P2 HD camcorders. The production rented two AJ-HPX2700s and made supplemental use of an AJ-HPX2000. The interviews were shot against a white cyc, with one HPX2700 used for a master wide shot, the second for close-ups. In the field, Van Wagner used the two P2 VariCams for cross coverage.

Van Wagner operated the A camera, with AC/gaffer Mark Alvarado on the B camera. The small crew also comprised a producer and assistant editor. The DP shot in AVC-Intra 100 at 720/24pN, making extensive use of the HPX2700’s variable frame rate capabilities, not only for classic slow motion but also shooting at 1-fps to simulate traffic streaking through Los Angeles and performing in-camera ramps at 1-fps to 24-fps. The HPX2700s were equipped with Canon Cine Zoom and Zeiss DigiPrime HD lenses, and with a wide-angle fisheye lens for stadium work.

“The HPX2700 is an amazing camera, especially for shooting sports,” said Van Wagner. “Using the AVC-Intra codec, we’ve consistently obtained beautiful imagery and been able to maximize the recording capacity of the P2 media.”

“The P2 VariCam was well-received by the entire crew—director, producer, editor—who all love the footage,” the DP added. “The HPX2700 would be a top choice of mine for anything sports-related, or for documentary-style reality shoots, independent films or commercials.”

On location, P2 material was off-loaded into a MacBook Pro; the assistant editor prepared redundant Xserve G4 drives for Hunting Lane’s Dan Marks, who is editing Straight Outta L.A. in Final Cut Pro 7.

About the VariCam 2700
The VariCam 2700 delivers stunning film-like recordings with solid-state’s exceptional reliability and fast workflow to excel in today’s demanding production environments. Equipped with three full 1-megapixel 2/3” native HD CCDs, the VariCam 2700 records pristine, independent-frame 1080 and 720 images using advanced AVC-Intra 100 and AVC-Intra 50 compression, supported by the industry’s leading nonlinear editing systems. The camera also records in the widely supported DVCPRO HD format. Offering a full range of variable frame rates, from 1 fps to 60 fps (in 720p mode) in single-frame steps, the VariCam 2700 provides precise control for overcranking and undercranking for fast and slow motion effects. 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.

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