WINDOWSEATpictures Catches Big Waves With P2HD Camcorders

recently shot four one-hour programs documenting the Vans Triple Crown of
Surfing (men’s and women’s competitions) with several Panasonic
P2 HD solid-state camcorders. The first
installment will air Monday Feb. 16 on Fox Cable Networks’ Fuel TV at 8
p.m. ET/PT. The shows will subsequently appear on VOOM’s RUSH HD network.

two through four will air on Fuel TV on Feb. 23, March 9, and March 26, all
at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

with AG-HPX170 and AG-HVX200 handhelds
and the AG-HPX500 shoulder-mount P2 HD camcorders, the
Triple Crown of Surfing is a Hawaiian specialty series of
surfing events, all staged on the
North Shore
of Oahu, a coastline world famous in surfing circles for its
clockwork winter swells that reach 50 feet in height. The Vans Triple Crown,
second in prestige only to surfing’s world title, is considered the ultimate
test of a surfer’s ability to master the big waves at three unique and
challenging venues: Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park,
Sunset Beach,
and the
Banzai Pipeline.
(Tthe women’s third round of competition was off-island at Maui’s
Ho’okipa Beach Park.)
WINDOWSEATpictures, a production company specializing in
action-sports programming, numbers Vans shoes, Monster Energy Drink, General
Mills, Mattel, Anheuser-Busch, Fox Sports, NBC, and CBS among its clients. For
the past several years, WINDOWSEAT has shot award-winning campaigns featuring
snowboarding, skateboarding, and other action sports with HVX200s (the company
owns three), occasionally renting an HPX500 for long-lens work. Last fall,
WINDOWSEAT purchased two HPX170s, specifically for the seven-week Vans Triple
Crown shoot.
“As crucial as the HVX200s have been to our signature
shooting style, we were eager to invest in the HPX170s,” said WINDOWSEAT
executive producer Moz Mirbaba. “With no tape drive, the HPX170 is
significantly lighter, an obvious plus for our type of work. The camera has an
improved sensor, which means a lower noise floor and better light sensitivity,
key advantages to our cinema verite shooting, where so many events are
spontaneous, with unpredictable lighting conditions.”
WINDOWSEAT took seven P2 HD camcorders on the Vans Triple
Crown assignment: four HVX200s, two HPX170s and an HPX500, the last rented from
EVS (Glendale, CA). The HPX170s were the main interview
cameras, the HVX200s outfitted with Century Optics doublers were the chief
“surfing” cameras (with shooters in Jet skis operated by the Hawaiian Water Patrol

capturing footage of the competitors as well as free surfers), and the HPX500
was used as the master contest camera shooting the master shots (sunsets, huge
waves) with long lenses that could “see” ¼ mile out into the ocean.
“The Triple Crown is the ultimate testimonial to the
advantages of P2 solid-state shooting,” Mirbaba said. “We experienced more than
40 days of humidity, rain and extreme heat, with not one camera failure.”
“The HPX170 exceeded our expectations,” Mirbaba added. “A
director and DP were each equipped with an HPX170 and, while waiting out the
perfect surfing conditions for the competitions, they would bicycle with the
cameras all over the North Shore to shoot interviews with surfers and locals,
as well as capture general lifestyle coverage. As we’d anticipated, the results
are exceptionally cinematic.”
“We outfitted the HPX170s with the new Redrock M2 cinema
lens adapter for 35mm lenses, and it worked superbly with the cameras,” said
Matt Devino, WINDOWSEAT’s lead editor on the Triple Crown shoot. “A simple
switch changes the focus ring to iris; the camcorder doesn’t de-focus, which
mean set-ups are a lot faster.”
WINDOWSEAT had 30 32GB P2 cards on location in Hawaii. The production
elected to recycle cards out one at a time as soon as they were at capacity.
“We had assistant editors and media managers on site to offload material,” said
Devino. “Each camera was assigned to a PowerBook G4; each G4 had two FireWire
drives attached to it for double back-up of footage. We created QuickTime files
on one of the back-up drives, and sent the second drive back to Los Angeles, where it was
backed-up on our server as a triple safety.”
Since all four Triple Crown programs will air on Fuel TV
in first quarter 2009, post-production had to be initiated immediately. WINDOWSEAT set up two MacPro Eight
Core workstations on the island, and ran five Eight Core machines back at its Los Angeles office, all
tied into a SAN server.
Color correction and the final master
lay-offs are being handled at an outside post facility. Material is archived on
mirrored SATA drives stored on-and off-site.
“Beyond the P2 HD camcorders’ portability coupled with
compelling image quality, the price point of these cameras is significant,”
said Mirbaba. “Panasonic has made it affordable for an independent production
company such as ours to transition to HD. Our clients want the look and feel of
HD in their projects, and with our P2 HD cameras, we can do that for not much
more than the cost of standard-def acquisition.”
Prior to the production team’s departure for Hawaii, WINDOWSEAT utilized
the HPX170s to shoot a web campaign promoting a user-generated video contest
for General Mills’ Totino’s Party Pizza brand. The You Tube-centric campaign,
starring Olympic snowboarder Danny Kass, was among the top 100 trafficked
videos in You Tube history. Next up for the HPX170s is a web campaign to launch
a new Mattel toy product.
more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit

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