Peabody Award-winning Director of Photography Mark Smith traveled with the 70th Anniversary Amelia Earhart Expedition to the remote South Pacific island of Nikumaroro this summer, armed with Panasonic AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorders to document the group’s archeological research.
The 14-member team traveled under the aegis of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), an organization that contends that famed aviator Earhart landed and ultimately died on Gardner Island — now known as Nikumaroro.
The small, deserted Pacific island, halfway between New Guinea and Hawaii, is also known for its oppressive equatorial heat and humidity, razor-sharp corral, dense foliage, treacherous landing conditions and relentless lack of drinkable water. Abandoned remains of Nikumaroro Village, “castaway” campsites and various elements from an 800ft freight shipwreck evidence the difficulties of accessing and sustaining life on the uninhabited island.
American aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight in 1937.
TIGHAR recruited Smith to shoot the 16-day archeological exploration of the Island seeking clues to Earhart’s presence there.
Smith’s equipment package was composed of two P2 HD cameras (the second HVX200 as back-up), an AJ-PCS060G P2 Store, a laptop, three hard drives for storage, two wireless microphones, and a grip/lighting package for outdoor use.
Smith shot on 16GB P2 cards, off-loaded to the P2 Store as needed, and backed up everything after each day of shooting. His choice of format was 720 30pN.
The cinematographer made extensive use of the HVX200’s off-speed shooting and pre-record capabilities. Smith plans to edit the piece using Apple Final Cut Pro 6.
TIGHAR is soliciting funding to underwrite the completion of a documentary about solving the mystery of Earhart’s disappearance.