DP Hunter shoots ‘Paper Heart’ with VariCam HD Cinema cameras

“Paper Heart,” a playfully imagined journey of one young woman’s quest for love, is one of the 16 narrative features selected to screen in the Dramatic Competition at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Shot with Panasonic AJ-HDC27H VariCam HD Cinema cameras, “Paper Heart” was directed by Nicholas Jasenovec, who shares the screenwriting credit with Charlyne Yi; Jay Hunter was the director of photography.

“Paper Heart” was shot with two VariCams on a 10-week shoot spread out between January and May 2008. The shoot encompassed Toronto and Paris as well as a month-long road trip zigzagging across the United States from Los Angeles to New York City.

Hunter chose VariCam because the director felt off-speed acquisition was integral to the production, he said. Hunter also was familiar with the camera, having used it on more than 20 projects.

The production rented the two cameras, equipped with Zeiss DigiPrime lenses, from Video Equipment Rental’s Los Angeles office in conjunction with Los Angeles camera rental facility R Gear. Hunter worked with Video Equipment Rental video specialist Steve Lucas to establish a look for the production. The two adjusted the gamma curve for “Paper Heart” to a level that maximized the latitude, while lifting the blacks and midtones and holding the highlights.

”Essentially, what we did was reduce the knee point and knee slope in order to capture maximum detail in the highlights. The result was a milky, low-contrast, ‘blah’ look, but that was deliberate, as I wanted to mimic a RAW setting that one finds in still cameras,” Hunter said.

The extended latitude allowed the camera crew to go into any environment, including those with minimal lighting, and produce the high-quality imagery desired. That was particularly useful on the road trip where several locations, ranging from a pitch-black bar to a Texas field in the noonday sun, were found spontaneously without any scouting, he added.

Editor Ryan Brown worked with more than 300 hours of footage to do the initial cut on an Avid Media Composer. Post finishing was done at Laser Pacific in Hollywood, CA, where colorist Rose Calabrese supervised the final color correct.

For more information, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.