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Production

Reality TV: Technology Drives the Popular Genre

pro_shootingreality_burgoyne-linne-brownWhen it comes to reality TV production, what we don’t know won’t hurt us. So say the networks behind the myriad of reality television shows populating our airwaves for the last decade. But P3 has recently taken a look behind the scenes of reality TV, and what we found is pretty interesting. Directors and cinematographers at Bravo TV now reveal the technology, gear, crew power and techniques they need to bring today’s top reality shows to life.

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New JVC ProHD Camcorder Excels

image005When Miller-Bell Media Productions, LLC (formally GIG 2 Me Music & Video) was established in 1998, co-owner Gary Bell selected JVC camcorders for his business, a leading manufacturer and distributor of broadcast and professional video and audio equipment.

Bell purchased two JVC GY-DV500 professional DV camcorders, which were eventually replaced by a JVC GY-DV5000. Miller-Bell produces a variety of television commercials and infomercials, plus corporate and government video projects.

This past February, Miller-Bell Media Productions decided to make the switch from tape to completely HD production.

Bell chose to stick with JVC and purchased a GY-HM710 ProHD camera.

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Hunting Vampires with Abraham Lincoln and Caleb Deschanel, ASC

 

pro_abrahamlincoln_caleb_df_00494“The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter. It’s the difference between the lightning bug and lightning.” – Mark Twain

This prescient observation about writing by the legendary author is also true for stories told with moving images. Audiences innately know whether the images projected on theater screens look and feel right for the times and places in which the stories are happening. Well, they’re in for a thrill with the new action feature Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which transports audiences around 200 years back in time. Produced by Tim Burton Productions and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Benjamin Walker as Lincoln and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as his wife Mary. Born in a one-room log cabin on a Kentucky farm in1809, Lincoln overcame formidable obstacles on his path to become a self-educated lawyer. His election as the 16th U.S. President in 1860 was followed by the Civil War in 1861 and the end of slavery, but the movie focuses on a fictional historical twist when Lincoln discovers that vampires are plotting to take over the nation.
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Capturing 4K in the Field

At the recent NAB Show 2012, 4K was unquestionably the hottest new thing, at least in terms of field production and acquisition in particular. Several camera makers, such as Canon, JVC, RED Digital and Sony, introduced new 4K cameras and refined versions of previously introduced 4K cameras. For the first time, a few of these 4K cameras were priced under $10K, which is far below the previous benchmarks. These cameras include the RED SCARLET X, Sony FS700 and JVC GY-HMQ10. And while the RED and Sony 4K cameras are priced at nearly $10K, JVC’s is barely half that price. The key underlying question is whether bringing the cost of 4K acquisition within the price range of a much larger cross-section of the production community will trigger a major shift to 4K acquisition across the board, despite the fact that there’s currently a very limited demand for 4K content, even for the cinema.

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Zooming in on the Perfect Lens 


There’s no question about it. Digital technology has dramatically altered the way cinematographers shoot, whether it’s a feature film, TV show, commercial or anything other project. And now that shooting on film is becoming more of an exception than the norm, I wanted to find out how digital technology can affect a DP’s choice of camera lens.


In addition to being the co-founder and president of the Digital Cinema Society, Cinematographer James Mathers has been shooting TV shows and independent films for over 25 years. Having done over 30 features and MOWs, Mathers specializes in shooting “film-style” digital projects and he’s very particular about camera lenses. “An image chain is only as good as its weakest link,” Mathers explains. “It doesn’t make sense to me for people to use lesser quality inexpensive lenses on digital cinema cameras.” The introduction of the RED EPIC camera with its 5K sensor presented a new challenge for Mathers and other DPs. “Because the EPIC’s sensor itself is physically larger than so many other cameras, none of the existing zoom lenses could adequately cover the larger sensor area,” he says. “They were all designed to cover a Super 35mm frame size.” Mathers and a number of other cinematographers lobbied Angenieux to create a new version of its Optimo lens specifically for cameras like the EPIC.

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