Documentary pushes camera to the limit

Documentary filmmaker James Longley shot “Iraq in Fragments” with Panasonic DVX100 and DVX100A mini-DV 3-CCD 24p camcorders.

Documentary filmmaker James Longley picked up a trifecta of honors at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival for his feature documentary, “Iraq in Fragments,” including the Excellence in Cinematography Award, the Documentary Directing Award and the Excellence in Documentary Film Editing.

To capture the documentary, Longley spent more than two years on location, shooting more than 300 hours of footage with Panasonic AG-DVX100 series mini-DV 3-CCD 24p camcorders.

When Longley arrived in Iraq in February 2003 just before the war began, he traveled with two DVX100s (one of which he subsequently gave away to an Iraqi translator). Midway through the shoot, a filmmaker friend brought him the DVX100A, the upgrade to the DVX100.

On location in a war zone, the filmmaker had to deal with weather extremes. The two most difficult elements in Iraq for shooting are dust and heat, he recounted. When shooting out in the sun in southern Iraq, the camera would literally become too hot to touch on the outside. Despite the heat and being completely closed up with gaffer tape to keep the dust out, the camera performed without a glitch.

“Iraq in Fragments” was edited using Final Cut Pro software running on Macs. The film was upconverted to high definition and color corrected at Modern Digital in Seattle. Dolby Digital sound mixing took place at Bad Animals studios in Seattle, and File-to-Film recording was done at Alpha Cine Labs in Seattle.

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