Crash demonstrates resiliency of solid-state camcorder for Ohio production company

Act 1, a video production company in Westerville, OH, recently transitioned to tapeless HD acquisition with the four new Panasonic P2 HD camcorders.

Act 1 owner Steve Brandenburg purchased two AG-HPX500 P2 HD shoulder-mounted camcorders in 2008 and an AG-HVX200 P2 HD handheld camcorder a short time later. When Brandenburg lost his usual source of a helicopter to shoot aerial videos, essential for Act 1’s agricultural assignments, he acquired his own remote-controlled helicopter and outfitted it with an AG-HPX170 P2 HD handheld.

Brandenburg also owns two AJ-HPM110 P2 mobile HD recorder/players and an AJ-PCD20P five-slot memory drive.

The HPX500s are Brandenburg’s main production cameras, supplemented by the HVX200 for handheld work and special shots. The camcorders have provided support at national sales meetings, on international shoots and on local assignments for Ohio State University; however, the HPX170 has provided the most dramatic proof of the value of solid-state recording.

Brandenburg selected the HPX170 to mount to the remote-controlled helicopter, because without the tape drive, it is much lighter than the HVX200. Before using the helicopter-mounted camera for the first time for an aerial shot of tractors in a field for an agricultural manufacturer, Brandenburg ran several tests.

“While the helicopter was in a hover, we experienced a complete rotor shaft failure,” Brandenburg said. “The craft shook so violently that it disintegrated into three pieces and fell 100ft to the ground.”

According to Brandenburg, the fall resulted in a hole where the camera’s eyepiece fits into the camera body. The camcorder also was covered in dirt and the battery had bounced back from its normal position.

Upon returning to his office, Brandenburg was able to flip out the viewfinder and watch a replay of the whole aerial accident. “The footage looks great. In fact, we’ve been so busy since last April, when this happened, that I haven’t even bothered to fully repair the HPX170 but have simply kept it in our camera rotation, where it is performing perfectly,” he said.

Brandenburg shoots exclusively in HD, and depending upon the nature of an assignment, shoots either 720p/24fps or 1080i/60fps. He edits on both Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro.