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Sports cinematographer relies on VariCam for ‘Facing the Giants’

“Facing the Giants,” an action-packed drama about a high-school football coach who uses his undying faith to battle the “giants” of fear and failure, will premiere in theaters (400 screens, 86 markets) on Sept. 29.

Given the project’s many key football sequences, writer/director Alex Kendrick enlisted veteran sports cinematographer Bob Scott to shoot the movie with Panasonic’s AJ-HDC27 VariCam HD Cinema camera.

Scott, an experienced VariCam shooter and owner, has served as director of photography for the official documentary retrospectives for the past several Olympic Games, produced by Bud Greenspan’s Cappy Productions (New York).

“Facing the Giants” was a one-camera shoot, and Scott outfitted the camera with a Pro 35 lens adapter and Panavision lenses. “I didn’t want ENG lenses,” he said. “We wanted to emulate a film look as much as possible, and those accessories gave us the same characteristics as 35mm from the lens standpoint, with a shallow depth of field and film-like grain.”

Shot in the spring 2004, “Facing the Giants” was something of a grassroots affair, with homes and Sherwood Christian Academy in Albany, GA, providing all of the film’s locations.

According to Scott, with enough light he knew he could get the VariCam to do what he wanted it to do. Initially anxious about getting enough light, especially at night, Scott re-evaluated as shooting progressed, because he saw that he didn’t need to “compensate for video.” The VariCam worked well in dark areas.

The six-week shoot yielded more than 25 hours of footage, which was edited down to a 110-minute feature on Final Cut Pro after being input from an AJ-HD1200A DVCPRO HD deck. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, one of the film’s distributors, “Facing the Giants” received full-scale color correction and a film-out.

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