Monday, 6 April 2009


Am out in Grenada on stage two of the VET ADVENTURES series and thought I would write a quick report on the camera we are using on this project: the Sony HD XDCAM pdw700.

Most of the filming on this new project is hand held which makes for really hard work. As much as I would like to use the tripod, the style, look and feel of this programme dictates that it has to be dynamic and there isn’t a minute to spare as the presenter darts around from one place to another. It can go from a close up to crash zooming out and off on a chase.

Am really happy with the results, from the workflow down to the picture quality.
Prior to buying the camera, we at RES, were mulling over which camera to go for. The Panasonic Varicam, the Sony HDCAM 750 or the Sony HD XDCAM 700.
So many things to weigh up, tape, tapeless or disc, different Mbits, variable frame rate or not, digitising requirements and above all cost of the camera as well costs of the various workflows.

We decided on the 700. We needed a quick and cheap work flow as well as good quality pictures.
At the end of each shooting day we digitise all the footage onto an external hard drive and that allows us to study the days filming and story lines. Should we be missing any particular cut away, I'd rather notice it on the shoot rather than in the edit suite back in London!

We purchased two inbuilt radio mic receivers together with the camera body, a third independent radio mic, a matte box and filters (an ND .9 grey grad filter and Polariser), a Teletest RX transmitter and a remote monitor. Lots of great gadgets, but it means am also having to use two IDX V lock batteries as the camera sucks up so much juice and adding weight to an already heavy camera. I think it comes in at nearly 13 kilos.

The lenses I use are the Canon HJ11 and the HJ22.

I find factory settings on Sony HD cameras to be extremely contrasty, with no latitude to grade when it comes to post, so in the menu in the gamma page i have set it on a cinegamma 2, which flattens the blacks and the whites.
My only concern is the viewfinder, its not quite true to what I get at the other end. My whites seem to be hotter in the VF. I keep calibrating it, but it just doesn't seem right.

Filming a piece to camera in St. George's, Grenada.

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