Vanderpool Films relies on HD for defense department science project

Earlier this year, Charles and Marilyn Vanderpool, of Vanderpool Films in Baltimore and Tarpon Springs, FL, received a job from the Department of Defense to create a series of instructional DVDs for middle and high school science teachers to promote science and technology education in the United States.

The filmmaking team chose the Panasonic AG-HVX200 DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder for the project.

In production, director/cinematographer Charles and producer/writer Marilyn Vanderpool shot more than 35 hours of footage on location in science classrooms and in interview settings with nine of the country’s most prominent science educators, including Shirley Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Northwestern University’s R.P.H. Chang.

The pair used the HVX200 P2 tapeless camcorder because it allowed them to shoot HD for direct finish in DVD. The project’s limited budget, long shooting schedule and “sheer volume of material to be documented” made film, which nearly all of the filmmaking team’s previous projects have relied upon, “out of the question,” Charles Vanderpool said.

After initial experimentation with the HVX200, Charles created custom scene files for various shooting situations. The team primarily shot in classrooms and school science labs with available light — mostly fluorescent and daylight. All of the interviews were shot in front of a green screen using a custom scene file.

The filmmakers shot about 140 P2 cards full of footage, and applied “the traditional film-shooting model to a P2 workflow,” Charles said. He used a “disk image copy method” to transfer footage to external FireWire drives connected to an Apple 17in PowerBook.

The filmmakers shot the project in 720p on 8GB P2 cards. Each held 16 minutes of footage. Footage recorded on each P2 card was copied to separate 300GB FireWire drives, which served as “camera original” and “backup,” he said.

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