Panasonic HD Gear Provides Insurance for Safeco

HD gear continues its push beyond prime-time TV and big-time sports with cinematographer Chris Bell and Seattle-based Eyeplay relying on Panasonic VariCam and HVX200 gear for a five-minute video about how Safeco and its independent insurance agent helped a customer recover from the damage of Hurricane Katrina.

While the VariCam was used to tape interviews with the Safeco agent, a customer, and the head of Safeco’s national catastrophe team (as well as more scripted B-roll footage) it was the HVX200 that was used to shoot the devastation in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

Bell says the HVX200 was used more than they expected, with the production team using a minivan to shoot moving dolly shots out of the sliding door.

Like its more expensive VariCam sibling the HVX200 can be over or undercranked to deliver slow- or fast-motion effects. Bell overcranked the camera for what Bell called a “nice” slow-motion look. For the Safeco video I shot the still lifes at 24 frames, and moving footage and portraits at 60fps for dramatic effect,” he says.

After shooting material was transferred off the of P2 cards to the P2 Store and then into the PowerBook for editing in the field using Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Once back in Seattle Bell transferred the HVX200 footage and all the VariCam footage to a G-RAID server then brought it all into Final Cut Pro via FireWire in its native DVCPRO HD codec.

The key to making the camcorder a viable solution, however, occurred after VariCam gained a FireWire option (through the AJ-HD1200A DVCPRO HD VTR). “VariCam gave me all the tools to be creative in the camera and raised the bar on image quality, even if 90% of the end products were still viewed in standard definition,” he says.