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Cincinnati Filmmakers Shoot Feature with Panasonic AJ-HDC27C HD Camera

(September 20, 2001)
Cincinnati-based production company Cincinnatus Motion Picture is shooting “Tattered Angel,” a feature-length theatrical movie, with Panasonic Broadcast’s new AJ-HDC27V variable frame rate HD Cinema camera.
The AJ-HDC27V allows digital cinematographers to capture film-like 24-frame high-definition progressive scanned images; in addition the camera provides a wide range of variable frame rates (4 to 33-fps, 36, 40 and 60-fps) for off-speed capture situations.
“Tattered Angel” is being directed by William Benson, and was written by (and will star) Duffy Hudson. The director of photography is Mike Caporale (principal of Caporale Studios, also of Cincinnati), who has shot several features with Panasonic’s 480 progressive scan DVCPRO50 format.
A suspenseful mystery, “Tattered Angel” is the story of Vince Jacobs (Hudson), a defeated man who returns home, haunted by the childhood memory of his sister’s disappearance. Shortly after his arrival, a second young girl vanishes, and Jacobs becomes the chief suspect. The roles of the two leading
women are being undertaken by actresses of note: Lynda Carter (“Wonder Woman”) plays Hazel, the mother of the abducted child, and Susan Floyd (“Ransom Hearts” and the upcoming “Chinese Cookie” with Al Pacino and “Domestic Disturbance” with John Travolta, Vince Vaughn and Steve Buscemi) plays Julie, Vince’s former love interest. The movie is being shot on
location in and around Cincinnati.
DP Caporale said, “The director Will Benson, with whom I’d worked for years, insisted that the footage needed to look like film from the onset, particularly as Paramount and several investors are looking at the dailies. Because of my background with the 480p camera, I had the opportunity to demo the AJ-HDC27V last spring, and I found the look indistinguishable from film. On the basis of the sample footage I shot, the director committed to 720p. I took delivery of the camera on August 1st, and we began production two weeks later.”
Caporale continued, “I am making no adjustments because I’m shooting video. This project is being crewed like a big film job. We’re shooting night scenes in graveyards, and we’ve got HMIs outside windows and doors looking into rooms dimly-lit with practical bulbs. The camera holds it all.

“The dynamic range is unbelievable, holding a tremendous range of tone. I’ve found the camera very easy to set up--even without tweaking, the footage looks like film. I’ve taken the basic set-up and lowered the pedestal for richer blacks, then lowered the gamma to achieve the desired dynamic range.
I’ve utilized the multi-frame capability for blurred, slow and fast motion. I particularly like the fact that if you shoot between 3 - 8 fps, you can either step frame with crisp images, or have constant, blurred images.”

Principal photography on the project will be completed this month. A second AJ-HDC27V, provided by On Location Multimedia (Cincinnati, OH), has been used for dialogue, pick-ups and B unit work.

The director is planning to do an in-house, off-line edit in 480i, then go outside to a facility to conform in HD and master to Panasonic D-5 HD for festival submissions. “Tattered Angel” is being produced under a SAG limited engagement contract which, among other things, means that the eventual
distributor will undertake the ultimate transfer to film.

Caporale noted, “We’re realizing terrific economies by shooting with the AJ-HDC27V, notably the cost of tape stock vs. film and processing. I estimate those costs to be approximately $1500 versus $104,000. Furthermore, we can count on a smaller crew and a quicker shooting schedule. Film
cameras make noise, and you always lose production time solving audio problems--that’s simply not an issue. And then we’ll save time in post as the images and audio are on the same tape, eliminating any need to resync. “

Providing excellent economy, long recording times and a refreshing ease of use, the AJ-HDC27V offers 24 frame per second capture for acquisition of exquisite film-like images. And with its unique variable-frame selectivity, cinematographers can choose from a wide range of other frame rates –including 4 to 33-fps (in one frame increments) 36-fps, 40-fps and 60-fps providing the capability to “overcrank” or ”undercrank” the camera to achieve fast or slow-motion effects. This is the first time this traditional film technique has been applied to a high-definition digital camera system.

A truly flexible digital camera, the AJ-HDC27V’s progressive images can be directly converted to film avoiding unnecessary frame rate conversions.
By utilizing Panasonic's AJ-HD3700 D-5 HD Mastering VTR, images can be format converted to 1080p/24 -- a Universal Master from which 25fps PAL programming can be easily derived. The AJ-HDC27V can also create “motion-blur” and
“warp-speed” special effects in real-time by shooting at very low frame rates without shutter. The camera’s shutter speeds automatically track frame rate changes, ensuring consistency throughout the shoot.

The AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema camera records for 46 minutes in standard 720/60p format on DVCPRO large-size cassettes and provides exceptional sensitivity--equivalent ASA speed rating of [email protected] lux. Capable of shooting in a wide range of light-level conditions, the AJ-HDC27V’s programmable gain
preamplifier can be set to optimize signal levels--operators can choose from -6 dB to +36 dB in 12 steps. Its advanced color correction scheme utilizes a 12-pole color matrix that allows very specific colors to be adjusted without affecting the overall color imagery. The camera offers a total of 12 separate scene files, which are saved internally and on a removable memory card.
Panasonic’s HD Cinema camera lineup also includes the AJ-HDC20A 1080i60 camera and the AJ-HDC27A 720p60 camera.

For more information on Panasonic’s
HD Cinema lineup, visit

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Related Keywords:HD, filmmaking

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