* Company Shoots ABC Music Lounge, ‘Ugly Betty’ Webisodes for ABC.Com *
SECAUCUS, NJ (July 15, 2009) — Production company Big Door (Manhattan Beach, CA)recentlypurchased Panasonic’s new AG-HPX300 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders to serve a client base ranging from every major broadcaster to top Fortune 500 companies. The HPX300 is the industry’s first affordable 10-bit, 4:2:2 professional HD camcorder, featuring independent frame AVC-Intra recording and variable frame rates for creating fast- or slow-motion effects.
Big Door has an impressive 500+television shows to its credit, and is headed by Max Yoffe, an award-winning director/DP with over 20 years experience in broadcast television. As a longtime owner of AG-HVX200 handhelds, Yoffe is a veteran of P2 HD production.
Big Door is currently using four HPX300s to shoot the ABC Music Lounge, a concert series shot on the Disney lot for ABC digital. The ABC Music Lounge (http://musiclounge.abc.go.com) offers a streaming "radio station" playing 200-plus singers and bands whose songs have been heard on ABC shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. Previously, Big Door used several HPX300s to shoot another assignment for ABC, a promotional pilot titled Buzz Hunters.
Yoffe said, “ABC’s digital operation is headed by Robert Longwell, who has very high production standards, and the operation’s on-line server plays out in HD. ABC digital’s Executive Producer, David Beebe, and Show Producer, Blake Peyrot, have always been forward-thinking and embraced P2 production, but the expectation was that we would shoot in 1080p, which we couldn’t do with our HVX200s.”
“The Music Lounge is a high-profile project for us, and the HPX300s are really excelling on these shoots,” said Yoffe, the Director for the recurring assignment. “The HPX300s are ideal for multi-cam work: it’s easy to match the cameras and the time code. The camcorders are versatile, performing equally well on a jib, on pads or used handheld.”
“Its size, weight and form factor make the HPX300 an excellent choice for documentary and handheld work,” said Director of Photography Sam Ameen, the DP on the ABC Buzz Hunters and Music Lounge shoots and himself a P2 workflow proponent as an owner of an AJ-HPX3000 2/3" 1080p P2 HD camcorder. “The HPX300 is a solid little camera with a proven workflow. We’re using it quite effectively for green screen work.”
“I prefer to shoot nothing but AVC-Intra overall,” Ameen added. “It’s so much more efficient, with 10-bit color space and black-to-white range, affording 1000 gradations of contrast vs. 256 with DVCPRO HD. AVC-Intra is more efficient with better color and contrast. Not a tough choice.”
The original impetus for Big Door’s investment in HPX300s was Buzz Hunters, shot for Met Hodder (Burbank, CA). “We needed a great- looking, affordable P2 camera that shot 1080p/24f and could be used for multi-camera productions,” Yoffe said. “Compared to the HVX200, in the HPX300 we had a shoulder-mounted camera with a more flexible lens, better low-light performance and the capability of shooting 1080p and AVC-Intra, whose compression ratio affords such a dramatic improvement in quality over DVCPRO HD.”
He added, “We looked at shooting on the VariCam, but EP Kent Hodder (owner of Met Hodder) pushed to shoot on P2 as opposed to tape. Kent wanted to use the pilot as a first step in developing a tapeless workflow at Met Hodder.”
Big Door purchased two HPX300s from Birns & Sawyer, from whom it rents its additional camcorders for multi-cam shoots.
Big Door will be shooting upcoming webisodes for ABC’s comedy hit, Ugly Betty, with the camcorders. Yoffe said, “EP David Beebe and Show Producer Chris Powers wanted to shoot the webisodes in a digital format to separate the production from the show’s 35mm look. We shot the first two seasons with three HVX200s but were always challenged by that camcorder’s inability to match time code, its restrictive lens for complicated focus moves and the design of the monitor port, shortcomings that are all addressed and corrected in the HPX300.”
Big Door has also used the HPX300s to shoot a pilot in Miami on adrenalin-themed Drift Racing (an extreme motor sport) for Johnson and Murphy Advertising (Van Nuys, CA), and red carpet coverage at the premiere of the movie Street Dreams for ChopShop (Irvine, CA). Yoffe said, “Sean and Zach at ChopShop are big advocates for using P2 for their high-energy work for Fuel TV and their high-end commercial department. Street Dreams was their first time using the HPX300 and we got rave reviews.”
He continued, “In shooting Drift Racing, we were really impressed with the HPX300’s ability to handle fast moving action in 60i, and the operators enjoyed the light weight of the camera. Suddenly, a 12-hour day of handheld didn’t seem so bad, and the younger camera operators had to be bored with stories from the veteran ops, ‘when I was your age we had a 20-pound camera and had to….’”
“With Johnson and Murphy, we have Sam Johnson and Jeff Morritt, demanding Hollywood veterans who had not used P2 before,” Yoffe noted. “So we s