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‘Prairie Home Companion’ Shot with HD Zoom Lenses

Director Robert Altman’s new feature film, “A Prairie Home Companion,” based on the weekly public radio program of the same name from the World Theatre in St. Paul, Minn., was filmed on location with three Fujinon HAe10x10 and two HAe5x6 HD zoom lenses on Sony F-900 HD cameras.

Show creator and host Garrison Keillor is captured on-stage during readings for a lot of long, fluid moving shots, according to the film’s HD engineer, Ryan Sheridan. The filmmakers were trying to capture a mix of live performance camera work and dramatic theatrical cinematography.

Also, for flow and continuity, Altman wanted to be able to shoot for 30 minutes at a time without cutting away or reloading. Some single scenes in the completed film are as long as 23 minutes.

The various shooting environments, such as the World Theater stage and the backstage make-up rooms and hallways, involved sharp contrasts in lighting. Two 20-inch Sony monitors were used to capture A and B camera footage and Clairmont Camera provided an Evertz fiber-optic cable system that connected each camera to a centrally controlled engineering station. All signals were sent through fiber optics instead of camera cables.

The theater release date for “A Prairie Home Companion,” which is now being screened at some film fests, is June 9.