Canon XA10 Helps Texas’ KRGV-TV5 Win Regional Emmy
Smaller-market TV stations face a constant challenge to produce compelling, cost-effective local news that builds audiences amid multichannel competition. For KRGV TV-5, in Weslaco, Texas, meeting that challenge combines award-winning journalism with the XA10 professional HD camcorders from Canon U.S.A., Inc.
Equipped with infrared features for shooting in total darkness, the station’s hand-held Canon XA10 HD camcorders were instrumental in producing “The Battle in Brooks County,” a special report on the plight of illegal immigrants that won a 2011 Lone Star Emmy Award. Reporter Jordan Williams and photographer Mike Ortiz accompanied sheriff’s deputies on night patrols of vast ranchlands and used the XA10 HD camcorders to document the perils of illegal immigrants abandoned by human traffickers in the deserts of southern Texas.
“During the past decade, our area has seen hundreds of illegal immigrants cross the border, get lost in the brush, and die,” Williams explained. “We were out on patrol one day and found two men who were dehydrated and in very bad health. Mike had his shoulder-mounted ENG camera and I had the Canon XA10, and we did an instant two-camera shoot right there on the side of the road. The men told us their story and were suffering so badly they had to be taken to the hospital. It’s a sequence that will always stick in my mind.”
“We captured memorable footage at night as well, including interviews with volunteers who patrol the ranchlands in the dark looking for lost illegal immigrants,” Ortiz added. “The XA10 is small, versatile, non-intimidating, and it gives us great video. That’s what I need in my line of work.”
Capable of shooting in conditions with little to no ambient light, the Canon XA10 professional HD camcorder features infrared video capture and an infrared emitter with a diffuser, as well as a green or white color option to shoot HD infrared imagery even in complete darkness.
Professional Creative Control
Weighing just 1.7 lbs., the Canon XA10 professional HD camcorder captures 1080p Full HD video using an AVCHD codec recording to a 64GB internal flash drive or two SDXC-compatible card slots. Equipped with a built-in Genuine Canon 10x HD zoom lens (with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 30.4mm – 304mm), Canon 1/3-inch native 1920 x 1080 CMOS image sensor, and Canon DIGIC DV III image processor, the XA10 provides users with complete manual control for creative, professional use. Those manual controls include variable frame rates (60i, PF30, PF24, and native 24p), shutter speed, aperture control, gain control, white balance (adjustable from 2000K to 15,000K in 100K increments), and zoom speed. The focus ring on the lens can be set for MANUAL, and users can set the direction of rotation as well as three levels of response control. In addition to the focus ring, auto-focus speed can be adjusted for smooth transitions, as well as to a FACE-ONLY AF mode allowing for a blurred image as a person walks off-screen. The XA10’s lens also features Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system with STANDARD, DYNAMIC, and POWERED IS modes for steady video in most any shooting situation.
Packing a Big Punch
“As the station’s former chief photographer I know cameras,” noted KRGV operations manager Israel Alfaro. “I do the budget for the news department, and look for equipment that can help the news team. The Canon XA10 caught my attention because of its infrared features. We do a lot of undercover news here in South Texas, where nights are dark out in the brush of ranch country. The XA10 also caught my attention for its HD image quality, professional features, mobility, and file-based workflow convenience. It’s just like connecting an external hard drive to your computer editor. I showed it to our news director and she wanted one immediately. The XA10 is small but it packs a big punch in quality and looks nice and sharp on the air in HD. It’s also very cost-effective. We just purchased a second one.”
Additional features of the Canon XA10 HD camcorder include a 3.5-inch high-resolution (922,000-dot) touch-panel fold-out LCD screen that can be flipped for solo shooting with the LCD facing the subject. The XA10 also includes a 0.24-inch, 260,000-dot color EVF for use in bright daylight or other conditions that could prevent use of the LCD. For checking critical focus, a Touch and Track feature provides instant focus and exposure correction on any point of interest touched on the LCD. Auto focus and exposure can be adjusted independently or turned off for full manual operation. Also, two peaking modes and a 2X magnify focus-assist function are available in STANDBY and RECORD mode on both the LCD and EVF. The XA10 also features Canon’s Edge Monitor Focus Assist system, which displays a green monitor at the bottom of the LCD. A green waveform provides dynamic focus feedback to intuitively tune focus or quickly change the zone of focus. A custom key and dial allow for convenient, one-touch access to various functions such as focus or exposure and are set through the camcorder’s menu system.
The Canon XA10 HD camcorder features a built-in stereo microphone and a detachable handle for low-angle shooting. The handle includes dual XLR inputs, audio switches, audio level dials, and a removable microphone holder. The XA10 supports Dolby Digital 2ch (AC-3 2-channel) with automatic and manual audio-level adjustments.
“Some of the best sounds bites in ‘The Battle in Brooks County’ were the interviews we did with the camera mic right there in the middle of darkness,” Williams noted. “It worked just fine.”
Raising the Bar
“I have taken the XA10 to various locations and use it both on regular day-of stories and special projects, and it has been a real asset,” Ortiz explained. “I still love my shoulder-mount camera, but the compact design of the XA10 enables me to get more angles, which is really important for a photographer. I think that hand-held and shoulder-mounted cameras can work very well together, and if you’ve got them both then you’re going to bring back some really great footage. I am able to utilize both during multi-camera shoots. I can aim the XA10 at my talent or my subject and can match the audio up, and it works wonderfully. I had the XA10 up
in a helicopter and gave it to the reporter to get shots of the pilot while I shot aerial footage with my shoulder-mount. The XA10 works great in various scenarios and it’s small, versatile, and gives you great B-roll, great video and great colors. The XA10 is a handy extra camera that lets you make your video more compelling and your story that much better.”
“The XA10 gives us the capability not just to have great night shots but also more shots during the day from different angles that you wouldn’t normally get,” Williams stated. “We keep both of our XA10 HD camcorders charged and we grab them whenever we are shooting a story that might lend itself to multiple angles. From a reporter’s perspective, that raises the bar of any story.”