Entertainment Technology News
|Filmmakers Profile On-Line Encyclopedia Wikipedia in 'Truth in Numbers'Upcoming Documentary Shot with Panasonic AJ-HPX3000
By Pat Lamb
posted Aug 26, 2008, 18:33
Master Quality 1080P P2 HD Camcorder
(Secaucus, NJ) Accepting the challenge “you could look it up” used to lead to a walk to the library shelf and a browse through a weighty reference book. How last century. Contemporary knowledge seekers are much more likely to consult Wikipedia, the online free-content encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone.
Glen Echo Entertainment (Hollywood, CA) is currently in production with Truth in Numbers?:The World According to Wikipedia, a full-length documentary that is being shot with Panasonic’s AJ-HPX3000 native 1080p one-piece P2 HD camcorder. Wikipedia, the eighth most popular website on the Internet today, is already the second most widely-read “publication” in human history, attracting 50 million unique visitors a month. Truth in Numbers? is co-directed by Scott Glosserman and Nic Hill, with cinematographer Eric Koretz as Director of Photography.
The documentary explores the phenomenon that Wikipedia has become, its history, its founder Jimmy Wales, and the implications of the sum of human knowledge being compiled by "everyone." Skeptics pose compelling questions (are entries factually accurate? biased? accountable?) about whether Wikipedia’s model can truly achieve its goal. An account of Wales’ unusual rise to Internet super-stardom is interspersed with interviews with such prominent cognoscenti as author Howard Zinn, Washington Post executive editor Len Downie, CBS news anchor Bob Scheiffer, former Encyclopedia Brittanica head Bob McHenry, former CIA head Jim Woolsey, Slate Magazine’s Chris Wilson, as well as with various Wikipedian editors.
DP Koretz shot a previous documentary, Love Limits, with Panasonic’s AG-HPX500 P2 HD camcorder. He became involved with Truth in Numbers? in January 2008, when the project changed ownership and direction, and decided to upgrade to full-fledged HD shooting (some early footage was shot with an HDV camcorder).
“We began shooting on the HPX500, and when the budget allowed we upgraded to the HPX3000,” Koretz said. “I considered a P2 workflow essential to this project. We’ve been traveling to up to five cities per week for the past six months, and tape simply wouldn’t work. I didn’t want to check it or transport it, and tape is easily damaged. P2 cards are robust, reliable, and you can see your work right away. I far prefer P2 to any HDD-based system, where I wouldn’t be confident that the footage would be there at the end of the day.”
“Moreover, the HPX3000 gave us access to the AVC-Intra codec, full-raster 1920 x 1080 resolution with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling,” the DP added. “Images are beautiful and occupy half the bit rate, which doubles P2 record times. Although we’re mixing HPX500 and HPX3000 footage, we’re able to use Cinema Tools in Final Cut Pro to bring everything together and convert it easily.”
The production’s equipment package, rented from Glendale, CA-based equipment rental company VER, comprised Fujinion 22x7.8BERM-M48 22xHD and Canon HJ17ex7.6B IRSE 17x7.6 HD Lenses, the AG-HPG10 P2 Gear and Panasonic’s AJ-HVF21G HD Viewfinder in addition to the P2 HD camcorders. Koretz traveled with a Lowel Rifa eX 88 location lighting kit and minimal gels and tungsten to achieve optimal lighting set ups with minimal equipment.
“This was a very tough shoot, traveling from coast to coast and internationally, sometimes in multiple cities within the space of a week,” Koretz said. “The HPX3000 excelled at quick set-ups for sit-down interviews in semi-controlled environments as well as at run-and-gun work, e.g., following a professor around campus.”
“Because the production was so travel-intensive, the budget didn’t allow a camera assistant and the workflow had to be smooth and efficient,” he continued. ”On Love Limits I’d developed a P2 workflow, repeated on this project, that entailed setting up a laptop near the camera and attaching the P2 Gear via its USB port. The HPX500 has four P2 cards slots so we would cycle through the cards, transferring data to get continuous shooting (which is great because you can shoot indefinitely). The HPX3000 has five card slots, so even though I set up the transfer station I rarely had to cycle through the cards. I primarily used five 16GB P2 cards. I had a system of folders that I would create on my laptop, so as I transferred the cards from the P2 Gear I could easily keep track of what was being offloaded and no data was lost.”
Truth in Numbers? is currently on hiatus as the crew awaits a nod to accompany Jimmy Wales to China as he negotiates a Chinese-language version of Wikipedia. Glen Echo Entertainment is handling the edit in house, working on eight-core Intel-based Mac workstations running Final Cut Pro Studio HD. The finish will be timed for 2009 film festival submissions.
“The HPX3000 is an excellent tool for narrative features and documentaries,” Koretz said. “It’s great for docs like ours that require continuous shooting. Some of our interviews exceeded 100 minutes, and an interruption would have been inexcusable—and unnecessary, given the current capacity of P2 cards. And picture-wise, the HPX3000 imagery is fabulous.”
For more information on Truth in Numbers?, visit www.imdb.com/title/tt0960864. For more on Director of Photography Eric Koretz, visit www.theimagehunter.com.
About the AJ-HPX3000
With three 2/3” high-density 2.2-megapixel CCDs, the HPX3000 captures cinema-quality images in full-raster 1920 x 1080 resolution with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling, utilizing the powerful, new AVC-Intra codec. The HPX3000 offers intuitive film camera-like operation with advanced gamma settings, including Film-Rec mode (made popular by the VariCam). Designed for episodic television, filmmaking and commercial production where mastering quality is essential, the HPX3000 records in industry-standard DVCPRO HD at 1080 in 24p, 25p, 30p, 50i and 60i, and in AVC-Intra. AVC-Intra, the industry’s most advanced compression technology, provides high-quality 10-bit intra-frame encoding utilizing the Hi-10 and Hi-422 profiles of H.264 in two modes: AVC-Intra 100 for full-raster mastering video quality and AVC-Intra 50 Mbps for DVCPRO HD quality at half the bit rate, thereby doubling the record time on a P2 card. For added flexibility, the HPX3000 can also produce standard definition recordings in DVCPRO50, and is 60/50-Hz switchable for worldwide use. For more information on the HPX3000, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.
About Panasonic Broadcast
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a unit company of Panasonic Corporation of North
America. The company is the North American headquarters of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC) of Japan, and the hub of its U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations.
For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the company’s web site at www.panasonic.com/broadcast.
Photos: DP Eric Koretz with HPX3000, and two documentary interview subjects, author Howard Zinn and Washington Post executive editor Len Downie. Photos courtesy of Eric Koretz.
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