Inspired storytelling, superior HDTV production values and prudent budgeting are essential elements in the competitive world of producing innovative programming for today's cable networks.
For Varuna Entertainment in Los Angeles, achieving these goals is made easier by using Canon's XH G1 HD camcorders to capture dramatic, challenging and often dangerous footage for two of their latest cable "reality" series.
In transitioning its popular “Trick My Truck” series to HDTV, Varuna Entertainment first used Canon camcorders. The Canon XL H1 HD camcorder was small enough to get into a lot of places where a full-size HD camera wouldn’t fit, said Varuna Entertainment director of photography Chun Ming Huang.
To shoot the series, Huang relies on a wide-angle zoom lens and the XL H1’s standard 20X zoom lens. The series is shot inside the production company’s shop, a stable, controlled environment, which Varuna Entertainment producer Prema Ball said makes switching the lenses as needed sensible.
Besides the Canon 20X HD zoom lens and Optical Image Stabilization, the XH G1 HD camcorder features three 1/3in native 16:9 1.67 million pixel CCDs, true 1080 HD image capture with a choice of frame rates, Total Image Control of more than 23 independently adjustable settings, and industry-standard connections for genlock, HD-SDI/SD-SDI output and SMPTE time code.
Far from the predictable confines of the shop, Varuna Entertainment is using the Canon XH G1 HD camcorder with its fixed zoom-lens to shoot its new series “Ski Patrol: Crystal Mountain.” Shot in high definition under treacherous alpine conditions, the series debuted on truTV in October.
For the shoot, the production company followed and shot the ski patrol as it rescued people and blew up snow packs to prevent avalanches. The XH G1 HD camcorder offered the ease of maneuverability and durability needed for the mountain shoots, Ball said.
Some of the skiing shots were captured by camera operators holding the XH G1 HD camcorders on monopods.
"Occasionally the operators would fall, and it was much better that they were holding the lightweight XH G1 than a heavier HD camera,” Ball said. “A bigger HD camera could cause as much damage to an operator as the fall itself."
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