Field Report: Lobo & Associates shoots Saudi Arabia with Panasonic

Lobo & Associates shoots Saudi Arabia with Panasonic

By Mal Wolfe

Lobo & Associates, a Santa Barbara, CA-based producer of large-format films, television productions and high-end corporate films, has just finished shooting a corporate high-definition video project for Saudi Aramco. Forging of an Industry: The Future of a Nation (working title) will provide corporate image exposure for Saudi Aramco’s Natural Gas Operations division. It is intended to show the Saudi public how the new gas era will affect everyday lives in Saudi Arabia.

Mike Braniger, Lobo & Associates’ director of photography, uses Panasonic’s AJ-HDC20A to shoot scenes for a high-definition video project for Saudi Aramco. The cameras were used in a variety of locations, from studios to deserts like the Rub’ al-Khali (shown above).

The company has commissioned two versions of the video. A one-hour television version will be aired in the Gulf countries, and a half-hour version will be on permanent exhibition at the Saudi Aramco Museum, House of Discovery, in Dhahran. Forging of an Industry replaces a vintage 16mm film narrated by Orson Welles that had been used by the museum for nearly three decades and had become outdated. Before shooting any tape, Lobo & Associates undertook detailed pre-production planning for the project. The pre-production phase included close communication with Saudi Aramco to ensure the production plan would be representative of their vision for the project. This phase also included obtaining all necessary government permits, hiring a local support staff, and arranging air travel and support vehicles within Saudi Arabia.

Aside from the logistics of organizing the actual shooting, scouting was a critical part of the pre-production phase. The scouting trip entailed a one-month trip in September 2001 to visit all possible shooting locations. The crew then returned to Santa Barbara to prepare themselves for the grueling production phase in January.

The production team utilized Panasonic’s AJ-HDC20A DVCPRO HD 2/3-inch 2.2 million pixel FIT 3-CCD camcorder with Fujinon’s HA10x5BERM and HA15x8BERM HD ENG high-definition lenses. Lobo & Associates chose to employ the same shooting techniques for this project as they would for a large-format film, including keeping the cameras moving at all times through the use of dollies, jib arms and rails. We also had a grip truck specially outfitted for the same purpose. Overall, the quality of the video shot is comparable to large-format film work, but film stock and processing costs were eliminated through the use of digital.

The taping took place in extremely varied environments with a large array of equipment. Film locations ranged from remote desert or mountains to studios to interiors of Saudi homes. The crew shot tape in the desert at daytime temperatures of 115°F to 120°F and nighttime temperatures sometimes dropping below freezing.

We took two AJ-HDC20As on the shoot, one for primary shooting and one for time-lapse sequences and backup. Neither camera malfunctioned, despite the rigors of travel and hostile environments, and constant loading and unloading.

The production schedule was strenuous and exacting. The crew members, however, overcame all challenges, brought home excellent footage for the project and were enriched by their experiences in Saudi Arabia.

Mal Wolfe is a producer/director for Lobo & Associates.

Click here to check out more photos from Lobo & Associates and Panasonic's Saudi Arabia shoot.

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