Science Channel, CNN turn to Fujinon for high-flying event

Sean Fairburn, director of photography for The Science Channel's X Prize event, uses a Fujinon XA101x8.9BESM HD zoom lens to capture the record breaking flight.

When coverage of the first launch of a privately funded spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, aired live in October 2004 on The Science Channel and on CNN, both crews were shooting with Fujinon's telephoto zoom lenses.

The Science Channel used Fujinon's XA101x8.9BESM and CNN captured the event with an XA87x13.2BESM lens.

The spaceship, funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed and built by Burt Rutan, captured the Ansari $10 million XPrize. After an hour climb beneath the belly of the White Knight turbo jet, spacecraft pilot Brian Binnie rocketed straight up into the clear blue skies over the Mojave Desert, shattering a 42-year-old altitude record.

There to capture it all live using Fujinon's 101x Precision Focus Assist system was Evergreen Films' Pierre de Lespinois using a Sony 900 24P high-definition camera.

The 101x and its image stabilization features were key, particularly for the launch of the rocket ship, Lespinois said. The system has a built-in feature that enables the operator to precisely adjust the lens for optimum focus.

Precise focus is critical when shooting in HD. Smaller viewfinders on HD cameras are harder to resolve, and operators sometimes think they've achieved focus when they haven't.

Slightly out-of-focus shots are much more noticeable in higher resolution HD. The Precision Focus Assist system addresses such focus issues common to HD production.

At a certain height, de Lespinois' crew could no longer see the rocket with the naked eye. Despite that, he said, they got fantastic images live with the Fujinon zoom.

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