Huggins shoots Coast Guard tall ship documentary with Panasonic

Filmmaker Stuart Huggins used the Panasonic AG-HPX500 and AG-HVX200 to produce a feature-length documentary about the tall ship.
During his two weeks aboard the U.S. Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle, Stuart Huggins shot footage for a behind-the-scenes documentary about the ship and its crew.

To capture life aboard the U.S. Coast Guard’s largest tall ship, the Barque Eagle Cutter, filmmaker Stuart Huggins spent weeks onboard at sea with his Panasonic AG-HPX500 shoulder-mounted, 2/3in P2 HD camcorder.

The U.S. Coast Guard invited Huggins, who works at TADD Productions in Marietta, GA, to shoot onboard the cutter for two weeks in July. His objective was to produce a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary about the tall ship, which serves as a seagoing classroom for future officers of the Coast Guard.

The Barque Eagle, a 295ft square-rigged sailing vessel with a 147ft mast as its tallest, is the only one of its type in the U.S. fleet. Its permanent crew of six officers and 54 enlisted personnel maintain the ship year round and provide facilities that train up to 150 cadets or officer candidates for their future positions as Coast Guard leaders.

The Coast Guard asked Huggins to take on the project based on an HD production he shot for the Coastal Georgia Historical Society highlighting both the natural history of the Georgia barrier islands and the maritime history of the former Coast Guard Station, St. Simons Island. The project, entirely shot with Huggins’ AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorder, was the recipient of three national Telly Awards, including an award for cinematography.

Huggins sailed with the Eagle from Veracruz, Mexico, to Miami, FL, and shot with both the HPX500 and the HVX200. The HPX500 was equipped with a Canon HDgc lens, which provided “distinctly clear shots” from a variety of angles and distances, Huggins said. He used the smaller HVX200 below deck in cramped, poorly lit spaces and as high as 120ft in the rigging and sails.

Huggins recorded the entire shoot in DVCPRO HD 720p native (24fps) and occasionally shot using variable frame rates “depending on the mood and/or requirements of the situation,” he said.

On his two-week journey, the filmmaker logged more than 40 hours of footage using his 17in Apple MacBook Pro, a Duel Systems DuelAdapter (for offloading P2 cards), Imagine Products’ HDLog logging software and a number of portable LaCie 7200 rpm hard drives. All editing and finishing is being done with Apple Final Cut Studio 2.

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