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National Geographic ‘explorers’ shoot upcoming big cat feature with AJ-HPX3000

International wildlife cinematographer Dereck Joubert and producer wife Beverly Joubert, both explorers-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, are currently in production shooting a feature film on lions in the wilds of Botswana.

The feature film, slated for theatrical release next year, is being shot with AJ-HPX3000 native 1080p one-piece Panasonic P2 HD camcorders. Dereck Joubert, an HPX3000 owner, is shooting in AVC-Intra 100 10-bit intraframe at 1920 x 1080, 4:2:2 video quality.

Working with National Geographic and based out of Botswana, the Jouberts have influenced policy and people’s perceptions of the wild for more than 25 years. Through their films, such as “Living with Big Cats” and “Eye of the Leopard,” which have aired on the National Geographic Channel, they show an often hidden side of the natural world and explore its relevance to humanity.

Dereck Joubert is shooting in run-and-gun style with two HPX3000s on-location in Botswana’s Duba Plains. From the beginning, Joubert was required to fight the elements, shooting in the rain for two months, he said. However, despite the camera being electronic, Joubert “felt more confident with it, not less, because of the tapeless mechanics,” he said. Despite the solid rain, which gave way to searing 120-degree heat in the shade, the HPX3000s “held up very well,” he added.

The veteran film cameraman sees the HPX3000 as “an electronic film camera” that allows him to “expose for the highlights,” he said. “I am finding a tolerance, latitude or dynamic range of around 13 stops out here,” he said.

For the shoot, Joubert equipped the HPX3000s with Fujinon 44X, and 25 x 16.4 HD zoom lenses. In terms of workflow, Joubert downloads the AVC-Intra files and mirrors them on two 1TB RAID hard drives. Editing will be done in Final Cut Pro and finished on an online Avid system for digital intermediates.

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