Filmmaker shoots ‘Presidential Flight’ tribute with AG-HVX200

Austin Smithard used the HD camcorder to shoot a retrospective of the six-decade history of Marine Squadron One and its flight duties.
Filmmaker Austin Smithard explored what’s involved with transporting the president of the United States through the eyes of Marine Squadron One with the Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder.

Veteran director, cinematographer and filmmaker Austin Smithard has shot “MARINE ONE — The Presidential Flight,”a retrospective of six decades of Marine Squadron One’s top-level assignment of flying the Marine One helicopter for the president, with Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder.

The piece, projected in large-format, premiered in April at the National Marine Corps museum in Washington, D.C. Discussion is underway for an hour-long version of the project for TV broadcast, and a two-minute version is slated to be posted on the White House Web site.

The work takes a unique look at what’s involved with transporting the president of the United States through the eyes of some of the most elite pilots in the world — the men and women of Marine Squadron One. For 60 years, this top secret-operation has been charged with flying every president since Dwight Eisenhower anywhere in the world at anytime. Given unprecedented access inside the squadron’s operation to document the extraordinary security and precision it takes to move the president safely from point A to point B, Smithard also received special clearance to assemble every presidential helicopter type and document them flying down the National Mall and hovering in formation over the White House.

Smithard directs through two production companies, American Rogue (long-format projects) and Aero Film (commercial production).

An owner of the HVX200, Smithard noted the camera’s handling of low light and high contrast. Smithard shot all B-roll footage in 720pN at 24, 48 and 60fps. Interviews were shot on 480i/24PA. On location, he would copy P2 files onto his 17in Apple G4 laptop, and then copy them a second time via FireWire to an external 250GB Lacie drive. When conditions prevented him from setting up the laptop, such as when he bounced around in the back of a marine troop helicopter, Smithard would download the cards into a P2 Store.

The director/DP is also editor on his own projects, and handled both the SD off- and online edits of “The Presidential Flight” at his facility. An SD version was completed in house, and then an HD version was completed later by post house Riot!

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