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‘The New Merry Pranksters’ take on the Serengeti

“The New Merry Pranksters,” three adventurous directors of photography (DPs), set out in July 2010 to capture the beauty of the Serengeti Plains and other natural wonders of Tanzania.

The New Merry Pranksters, which include award-winning DP Robert Primes, ASC; DP Dan Kneece, president of the Society of Operating Cameramen; and DP Yousef Linjawi, who is completing his MFA degree in cinematography at Chapman University, were determined to give viewers a glimpse of precious, spontaneous scenes of wild animals interacting with each other on the Serengeti Plains.

The DP team hauled 10 heavy cases packed with more than $500,000 worth of borrowed state-of-the-art gear, including: a Sony PMW350 2/3in XDCAM memory shoulder-mount camcorder; a Fujinon HA25x16.5BERD Premier Series HD Super Telephoto ENG style lens with 2x extender, servo zoom and focus; a Fujinon ZA12x4.5BERD super wide-angle HD ENG lens with 2x extender; and a Fujinon TS-P58A optical stabilizer, which eliminates unwanted vibration and image shifting when shooting with high-magnification HD ENG telephoto lenses.

The Fujinon lenses and image stabilizer enabled the DPs to shoot stunning animal closeups at long distances. The result is a treasure trove of more than 100 hours of spectacular wildlife scenes now being crafted into an enlightening film.

(Kneece and Primes explain how they employed the Fujinon stabilizer and HA25x for this project in an online video. Primes detailed the crew’s African adventure in a blog.)

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.