Director Laibe turns to Canon XL H1 HD for soccer film

Writer I. J. Azimzadeh and director Erik Laibe wanted to make an unconventional film about chasing the American dream.

The plot for “Header: The Breakaway Dream” revolves around an Iranian soccer player who comes to the United States only to be lured away by another professional team. Themes of culture, religion and family predominate. Much of the film’s dialog is in Farsi. The budget was less than $1 million.

To stay within their budget and achieve the quality level they sought, the pair turned to the Canon XL H1 HD camcorder for the movie.

However, selecting the camera was more than a financial decision, explained Laibe. He and Azimzadeh did bench tests of various cameras at Hollywood rental house Birns and Sawyer and rented them for a day to compare images.

They settled on the XL H1 because it handled the rapid movement of the camera during soccer games and because it could accept other lenses. Parts of the movie were shot with a Canon 400 photo lens with the EF Adapter.

The camcorder’s HD-SDI (SMPTE 292M) output proved essential to the project. At 1.5Gb/s, the uncompressed output of the camcorder’s HD-SDI terminal surpasses all available data rates for video production. Azimzadeh and Laibe purchased a 7TB RAID to capture footage directly to hard drives via a Blackmagic Multibridge Pro. However, taking the RAID into the field to record was a daunting task, so they ultimately acquired on Panasonic DVCPRO decks.

For the majority of the production, the XL H1’s HD-SDI output was fed into the tape machines with the camcorder’s HDV cassette serving as a backup. The filmmakers also used a Blackmagic Design DeckLink box to feed images to 23in LCD monitors in true 1920 resolution to see what they were shooting.

Most of the movie was shot in the XL H1’s 24F mode. Soccer sequences, however, were shot 60i recorded to the camera’s HDV cassettes.

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