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Wexler Video and XD Cam pack a punch for FOX

Supplies 11 Sony XDCAM PDW-530 cameras for "The Next Great Champ" (October 05, 2004)

Wexler Video, the largest owner/rental house of MPEG IMX product in the U.S., facilitated the "The Next Great Champ" crew with an equipment inventory that included 11 of Sony's XDCAM PDW-530 cameras. Wexler president Chris Thompson noted that the XDCAM system was a perfect match for the show's acquisition and production requirements, especially the system's 24P capabilities that were used during the production.

"Wexler pioneered the use of tape-based IMX cameras in reality television," Thompson said. "Therefore, it was only logical that we partner with Sony and pave the way for their newest IMX MPEG format-the XDCAM optical disc system."

According to the crew of "The Next Great Champ," the optical system's main benefits are flexibility and speed, as well as on-the-set performance. At the center of the XDCAM is Sony's blue-laser based Disc media, which offers unique benefits in terms of random access to footage in the field or during the post process, and multi-format flexibility (DVCAM or MPEG IMX-without having to change media). The single-sided, re-writable optical discs also offer portability and are packaged in a durable cartridge resistant to dust, shock and environmental conditions.

"The camera operators really enjoyed being able to double-check footage quickly on the spot," said Sean McKelvey, director of photography.

The camera's speed was a key factor in shooting the show's many nighttime interior and exterior scenes, where the operators had to capture the action in the ring, as well as the set's background environment such as railroad tracks or a cityscape. McKelvey took advantage of the camcorder's speed to shoot at 1600 ASA. "The benefit of the camcorder being so fast was being able to light down to such low levels that even by adding a 1/96th shutter, which lost two stops, we were still able to get great levels on our foreground action to match our fixed background."

Once the footage was acquired on the set, it was turned over to the post-production team, headed by post supervisor Sharon Mastropietro. Wexler also provided all the equipment for the off-line editorial staff: Dubracks, Avids, Unity system and XD Cam decks. Many of the features that helped the crew on the set were also important to her job when it came time to sort through all the footage.

"Having everything on disc made cueing up footage much quicker," Mastropietro said. "You go right to the source. So often you need to quickly find something that was shot at a certain time code break and, with using the Disc media, it just pops up. The optical disc has cut down so much of the time it normally takes post producers or script people to go through and find material on a tape."

Mastropietro also noted how the flexibility of the camcorder and the Professional Disc media helped speed her work. "In the field, if you wanted 16:9, 4:3, or 24P, you'd have to switch and use different cameras and different tape stocks," she said. "With this camcorder, you can do it all in one unit. Using one disc holding different formats, along with a single deck, means less to manage in post. I also didn't have to spend time and money dubbing."

About Wexler Video
Since its inception in 1984, Wexler has become the largest privately held rental house in America. Known in television production as a pioneer of new broadcast and workflow technology, they have been responsible for breakthrough uses of small, "POV" cameras and wireless-video microwave transmission for on-set production capture for broadcast.

Wexler offers complete workflow solutions starting with the first computer rentals in pre-production, all of the equipment needed to generate, capture and edit content through on-air delivery and, finally, the tools to archive for storage. All of their products are part of a complete solution designed and engineered to client specifications.

Wexler, putting technology to use.

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Related Keywords:Wexler Video, FOX, Sony, XDCAM, XDCAM PDW-530, The Next Great Champ, MPEG IMX, cameras, Chris Thompson, Sean McKelvey, Sharon Mastropietro, Dubracks, Avids, Unity, camcorder, Professional Disc,


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