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New England Aquarium Produces HD Content For Imax TheaterEmploys Fujinon HA13x4.5BERD Wide Angle ENG-style lens (August 24, 2004)
The New England Aquarium has long been considered a trendsetter over its 36-year history. Touted as the world's first modern aquarium when it opened in 1969, it has served as a design model for aquariums worldwide. In 2001, the Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX Theater was built. The theater features a six-story flat screen and is the Boston area's only 3D theater. The Aquarium's production staff has now taken a major step into HD production with the recent purchase of a Fujinon HA13x4.5BERD Super Wide-Angle ENG-Style lens for underwater and topside nature shoots. This purchase makes New England Aquarium the first of its breed to make the leap from digital video to HD production.
The New England Aquarium, in addition to being one of the first aquariums to produce in-house HD programming, is the first aquarium to digitally screen HD footage in an IMAX theater. Through ownership of its HD gear, the Aquarium's production team can deploy for a remote shoot at a moment's notice rather than be restricted by rental rates and availability. All post work is done in house, editing in uncompressed 10-bit 720p. The images are then digitally projected onto the IMAX screen.
The production staff selected the Fujinon HA13x4.5BERD lens following an exhaustive shootout with competitive lenses. Jeff Herzog, Production Coordinator for Global Marine Programs at New England Aquarium, pointed to the lens' compatibility with Amphibico HDAmphibicam underwater housing as a major selling point. He noted that the HDAmphibicam's true HD aspheric optics with full zoom-through, zero distortion underwater, and 120 degrees field of view of its dome port made the housing a perfect match for the HA13x4.5BERD lens' wide angle. Herzog added that the Fujinon lens was the widest angle lens available on the market at the time and that all three of the lens' servos, including focus and zoom, were compatible with the HDAmphibicam housing's servo and full camera controls.
"The flexibility of the Fujinon lens' wide-angle and zoom capabilities gives us a complete view of the coral reef environment and allows us to fully capture its beauty in HD," said Herzog. "Producing in HD is a huge leap over producing in digital video, and the images we capture using a high quality HD lens are perfect for digital projection on our IMAX screen. The enhanced resolution provided by the Fujinon lens is extremely beneficial to our productions."
Greg Stone, Vice President for Global Marine Programs at New England Aquarium, along with Herzog, has shot footage around the world with the HA13x4.5BERD since acquiring the Fujinon lens. Affixed to a Panasonic VariCam HD camera inside the HDAmphibicam housing, Stone and Herzog have taken the lens underwater near New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti and Bermuda as well as the New England area. New England Aquarium is now showing its first HD production, a locally-shot 90-second short on endangered sea turtles shown as a trailer before IMAX features. Stone is currently putting the final touches on an hour-long documentary on Teddy Tucker, a renowned shipwreck discoverer. The film, shot in HD in Bermuda, will be shown both at the Aquarium and the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute. Stone and Herzog also plan to build a library of HD productions with an eye toward broadcast television for certain programs.
Stone added that the Fujinon lens' ability to perform well above and below water was another deciding factor for his team. "Part of the modifications to the camera system for natural history production is that we mount the lens in a different position to fit into the housing. We can shift this entire system from underwater to topside work in about 10 minutes, saving valuable time. Financially, this flexibility is a big benefit. We can use one camera and lens setup instead of spending money on a second system, with the opportunity to widen our range of lenses in the future."
"The New England Aquarium has not been confined to exhibit halls in educating the public about the world of water," said Stone. "Film is a very effective way to bring our mission-oriented message to visitors," said Stone. "The Fujinon HA13x4.5ERD HD lens is instrumental in producing the most pristine images possible for our audience."
About the New England Aquarium
The New England Aquarium's mission is to present, promote and protect the world of water. The Aquarium pioneered marine animal rescue efforts, the use of naturalistic habitats in aquariums, and the integration of field science and research into its exhibit content. Located in downtown Boston, the New England Aquarium was the catalyst for the revitalization of the city's waterfront. For more information, call 617-973-5200 or visit our web site at www.neaq.org.
Fujinon is a major manufacturer and distributor of optics and lens assemblies for the broadcast, digital cinema and industrial markets. The company's line of television zoom lenses are used in virtually every segment of the broadcast industry, including electronic newsgathering, studio and field production, and high definition television. For more information about Fujinon broadcast and communications products, call 973- 633-5600 or visit our web site at www.fujinonbroadcast.com.
Amphibico is a major manufacturer of underwater housings for the recreational market and the professional HD broadcast and digital cinema markets. The company's line of housings is extensive and cover a wide variety of video and digital still cameras. For more information about Amphibico Underwater Housings, call 514-333-8666 or visit our web site at: www.amphibico.com
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