Panasonic AJ-SDX900 brings ‘Smile’ to face of documentary DP

For the recently aired Showtime documentary on Brian Wilson and the Smile concert, Panasonic AJ-SDX900 camcorders were used in a mixed SD, HD environment

Panasonic’s AJ-SDX900 DVCPRO cinema camcorders captured images of the documentary, "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and The Story of Smile." Photo by Merrilyn Herrera.

Two of the most alluring myths in popular culture are the reclusive artist and the lost masterpiece. These coincided in the world premiere of "Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson and The Story of Smile," a feature-length documentary chronicling the most famous unreleased album in music history, "Smile."

Directed by award-winning writer David Leaf and produced by LSL Productions (David Leaf, Steve Ligerman and John Scheinfeld) in association with Richard Waltzer's Chautauqua Entertainment, the film aired on Showtime Oct. 5.

Director of Photography James Mathers shot major portions of the documentary with Panasonic’s AJ-SDX900 DVCPRO cinema camcorders.

“The portion of the program shot during the premiere concert at Royal Festival Hall was recorded using a six-camera remote truck with 24P HD cameras,” said DP Mathers.

“The producers needed a more economical and portable camera to shoot the more than 100 hours of interview and background documentary footage, but the footage needed to cut up against HD.

“I researched and shot extensive tests with the (Panasonic AJ-SDX900, even cutting it together with HD footage at Sunset Digital in Burbank. With its high-quality 24P recording and native 16x9, even the facility’s engineers were hard pressed to tell the difference." For more information, visit:

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