Grizzly Creek Films captures ‘Expedition Grizzly’ with P2 HD camcorders

Grizzly Creek Films of Bozeman, MT, selected Panasonic P2 HD camcorders to shoot a recently aired one-hour special for the National Geographic Channel (NGC) about a naturalist’s work with grizzly bears.

NGC’s “Expedition Grizzly featuring Casey Anderson” presents the story of naturalist Casey Anderson, who has dedicated himself to wildlife preservation and a daring approach to understanding every move of grizzlies. Casey and his curious best friend Brutus, an 800lb grizzly, take a yearlong odyssey to shed light on Yellowstone National Park’s population of about 600 grizzlies.

Grizzly Creek Films producers Leslie Gaines, Thomas Winston and Becker Holland developed the project while making a series of short interactive, informational films for the Draper Museum of Natural History at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY.

After observing the relationship between man and bear, as well as Casey’s in-depth knowledge of the Yellowstone grizzly population, Grizzly Creek Films pitched a 60-minute HD special entitled “Casey & Brutus” at the 2007 Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. The show was picked up by the NGC and moved into production in April 2008 to coincide with bears emerging from hibernation.

Winston and fellow producer Gaines decided to combine the HPX500 and HVX200, both cameras they had used together on previous productions. The HVX200 was used for the verité footage of Casey, and the HPX500 was used for the long lens and more classic natural history footage. The production was shot at 720/24pN to maximize P2 card capacity in the field.

The producers selected the HPX500 for a variety of reasons, including its ability to accept 2/3in ENG HD long lenses, which were necessary to film the bears from a safe distance and to avoid disrupting the creatures. According to Winston, the camera’s ability to over-crank at 60fps is also an important feature for any high-end natural history footage. A Fujinon 42x zoom with a range of 13.5-570mm was used with the camera.

The HVX200 was used to follow Casey handheld and recorded sound directly to camera. For a two-week window late in the shoot, the production team used an HPX3000 with a Fujinon 13 x 4.5 wide-angle HD lens.

In the field, footage was downloaded and backed-up onto 1TB FireWire 800 drives from Maxx Digital. Back at the edit suite in Bozeman, all P2 offloads were permanently backed-up to tape on a Quantum LTO-3 deck, and the footage from the drives was logged and transferred into Final Cut Pro 6 for the edit. The color correction and final HD output were done at Digital Arts in New York City. Colorist Axel Ericson used Apple’s Color software.