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New Robert Altman Pic ?A Prairie Home Companion Lensed With Fujinon HD Lenses

Long, moving shots; dimly lit environs; and need for superior optical quality cited as key reasons for selection (January 04, 2006)

Director of Photography Ed Lachman (left) and Director Robert Altman (on right).

Director of Photography Ed Lachman (left) and Director Robert Altman (on right).

Famed director Robert Altmans new feature film, ?A Prairie Home Companion was captured exclusively with three Fujinon HAe10x10 (10-100mm T1.8) and two HAe5x6 (6mm to 30mm T1.8) HD zooms on Sony F-900 HD cameras. Clairmont Camera supplied the HAe10x10 lenses to Noir Productions, and Fletcher Chicago provided the HAe5x6 lenses.

Central to the decision to employ the Fujinon HD lenses was director Altmans shooting style, said the films HD Engineer, Ryan Sheridan. ?A Prairie Home Companion radio show creator Garrison Keillor is also captured on-stage during readings of the series. ?We did lots of very long, fluid moving shots, explained Sheridan. ?It was the perfect mix of live performance camera work and dramatic theatrical cinematography. Because of the Fujinon HD Cine Style lenses, our DP Ed Lachman, ASC, was able to capture everything from extreme close-ups to extreme wide shots with two lenses and sometimes with just one. Because of the low-flare characteristics of the lenses, we had a lot of shots that were looking directly into lights that didnt flare or wash out the image.

The director wanted to be able to shoot for 30 minutes straight without re-loading. Scenes in the film range up to 23-minutes in length. Some of the environments, such as on the stage and backstage make-up rooms, involved lower lighting levels.

Camera Operator Robert Reed Altman cited the lens optical quality and functional design as stand outs during the shoot. ?The director wanted the shots always moving. If we werent panning, we were zooming. We needed great zooms. These lenses are optically better than any others for HD production. With other lenses weve used if you shoot wider than 10mm, youll get a fish-eye effect. With our Fujinon glass, we went to 6mm, and the shots still looked great. Our camera assistants also appreciated the barrel size and numbers for the markings which were very film-style in operation.

DP Lachman also commented on the Fujinon HD lenses filmic approach. ?Theyre built more like film lenses, he said. ?Theres a feeling of depth and warmth. The Fujinon lenses respond in a more filmic way. They cover more of the frame than an ENG lens. The resolution and contrast is corrected up to the edges of the frame. There was more of a feeling of shape and depth to the image than with the other HD lenses we tested.

Among Lachmans other noted credits and awards are: ?Erin Brokovich, ?Far from Heaven (for which he received an Oscar nomination), ?The Limey, and ?Virgin Suicide, for which he received nominations and IFP awards.

After a side-by-side comparison with all other HD lenses available, Sheridan noticed more of a three dimensional presence to the subjects being captured with the Fujinon lenses. ?The subjects seem to have more of a presence compared to their backgrounds, much like the visual feel a 35mm film lens has, explained Sheridan. ?Thanks to this phenomenon, the lenses have a perceived reduction in their depth-of-field making them inherently more filmic and graceful.

Two large 20-inch Sony monitors were used to capture both A and B camera footage. Clairmont Camera also provided an Evertz fiber optic cable system that connected each camera to a centrally controlled engineering station. All signals were sent through fiber optics, instead of the traditional camera cables.

The fiber optic system was a huge improvement over the cabling set ups of past productions. ?We could run a camera outside and down the street, keeping it centrally controlled the entire time, said Camera Operator Altman.

Clairmont Camera also provided three Sony SRW-1 VTRs, which records with little compression and at 10-bit 4:4:4 sampling (in the case of ?Prairie Home Companion at 4:2:2 10 bit). ?The combination of the Fujinon lenses and the Sony tape deck really enhanced the color nuances we captured, said Camera Operator Altman. ?For example, the differences between skin tones were very clear. Because of the VTRs compression rate compared to the cameras on-board recorder [with 7x compression], we can capture much more color information. For example, more of the color nuances that exist between red and white are shown. Because of the level of detail this provides, we get a more filmic look in our images.

Anticipated release date for ?A Prairie Home Companion is June 9, 2006. Picturehouse will distribute.

About Picturehouse
Launched in April 2005, Picturehouse is the joint venture of two leaders of the entertainment community - HBO and New Line Cinema. Picturehouse currently has in release the critically acclaimed Israeli comedy by Gidi Dar, Ushpizin (The Guests). Upcoming films include Michael Winterbottom's Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story starring Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon and Jeremy Northam; Mary Harron's The Notorious Bettie Page starring Gretchen Mol; Factotum starring Matt Dillon and Lili Taylor; Steven Shainberg's Fur, which recently wrapped production and stars Nicole Kidman and Robert Downey, Jr.; and Robert Altmans A Prairie Home Companion based on Garrison Keillor's legendary radio variety show and starring Keillor (as himself), with Academy Award-winners Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Tommy Lee Jones, Academy Award-nominees Lily Tomlin, John C. Reilly, Woody Harrelson, Virginia Madsen, ?Saturday Night Live's Maya Rudolph and Lindsey Lohan.

About Fujinon
Fujinon is a major manufacturer and distributor of optic assemblies and lenses for the broadcast television, digital cinema, and industrial markets. The company's 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 1-973-633-5600 or visit our web site at



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Related Keywords:Fujinon, Lenses, A Prairie Home Companion, Robert Altman, HAe10x10, HAe5x6, Sony F-900 HD, Noir Productions, HD lenses,


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