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DP Samson Chan Racks up miles worldwide with his AG-HVX200

Utilizes DVCPRO HD P2 Camcorder for Shoots Around the Globe

If video cameras could accumulate frequent-flyer miles, Director of Photography Samson Chan's HVX200 would be due a nice vacation trip about now.  The LA-based DP had no sooner unpacked his new five-pound DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder than it was off to China with him to shoot features on China's powerhouse figure skaters for ESPN's telecast of the World Figure Skating Championships held in Calgary, Canada last March.  The HVX200 has since racked up trips to England, across the U.S. and to the Caribbean, capturing mesmerizing footage with unique shooting techniques.

The versatile Chan shoots sports-related features, promos and teases, music videos, opening title sequences and visual branding projects.  His credits include the critically acclaimed feature documentary Emmanuel's Gift, the Emmy award-winning ESPN documentary Rhythm in the Rope, ESPN Wimbledon teases, ABC's Super Bowl XL opening tease, and athlete profiles for NBC's coverage of the Torino Olympics.

Samson Chan shoots with the Panasonic AG-DVX100 Mini-DV 24p camera on the Great Wall of China.

The DP began his career shooting film but invested in Panasonic's AJ-HDC27 HD Cinema VariCam as soon as it was introduced.  Chan also acquired an AG-DVX100 Mini-DV 24p camera, and likewise has enjoyed great success with it.  Now, with the HVX200, he said, "It's exciting to have a camera the size of a DVX100 which is 24p and HD.  I just had to add it to my camera collection.  A lot of times people wait to see how a camera evolves in the marketplace, but I wanted to be one of the first to get my hands on this one."

Chan purchased his HVX200 from Abel Cine Tech's Los Angeles office.

The HVX200 uniquely combines multiple high definition and standard definition formats, multiple recording modes and variable frames rates, and the vast benefits of P2 solid state memory recording in a rugged, compact design. The DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder offers contribution-quality HD with independent intra-frame encoding, 4:2:2 color sampling, and less compression, making HD content easier and faster to edit and more able to stand up to image compositing versus long GOP MPEG-2 systems.

Chan's debut shoot with the HVX200 in China went very smoothly.  "After using the HVX200 for only a few days I was very excited about what I could achieve with it, " he said. "Everyone was amazed at what the camera could do, its ability to shoot slow motion, and its size and convenience."

"Capturing images was wonderful. The camera allowed me to get many more intimate shots that would have been challenging with a different camera," said Chan. "The camera provides mobility combined with high image quality, so it's an ideal tool for documentary-style shooting."

Chan shot DVCPRO HD in China using five 4GB P2 cards in rotation.  "Since I'm from a film background I look at the cards as film magazines," he explained.  "I shoot and compose a sequence as I would with film, so ten minutes of recording time per 4GB card at 24p was never a big concern for me. The hot swap function allows me to keep shooting continuously if I choose to."

Chan cycled the P2 cards into his P2 Store while shooting throughout the day.  Overnight he downloaded files from the P2 Store to a G-RAID hard drive and reformatted the P2 Store for the next day's shoot.  He noted that the deadline for his figure-skating features was so tight that "if it hadn't been for the fact that I was able to ship a hard drive with the footage already digitized and frame-rate converted, the editors in Calgary wouldn't have been able to work with the footage so quickly and easily."

After returning from China, Chan was off to England to shoot a music video at Centre Court Wimbledon with violinist Boyd Tinsley of the Dave Matthews Band for ESPN's coverage of the celebrated tennis tournament, which begins June 26.  For this production Chan's VariCam was the A camera and the HVX200 his B camera.  Musician Tinsley wore the HVX200 mounted in a special DoggieCam rig strapped to his waist for a few shots.

Chan sets up Boyd Tinsley with the DoggieCam Rig.

"You can only put a small camera on that rig--it's like wearing a Steadicam," said Chan.  "Boyd was stationary in the frame and you could see his fingers on the violin in the foreground, all of his body, and the background spinning.  It was a cool visual technique. What's more, the HVX200 footage matched perfectly with the VariCam footage and additional film footage I shot. It was seamless."

Chan followed the Wimbledon gig by crisscrossing North America to shoot featurettes in Phoenix, the New Jersey shore, Dallas and Jamaica on the top contenders in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, whose final rounds aired--for the first time in prime time--on ABC on June 1.  The HVX200 again served as B camera to his VariCam.

"I took two or three G-RAIDs with me on the trip, so that after each city I could FedEx the files, along with all my VariCam tapes, to the editor who downloaded the material and returned the drives to me," said Chan.

 Chan typically uses the camera with a Century Precision wide-angle adapter.  He prefers to shoot 24p but is glad to have other options, such as 1080i and mini DV.  He is also pleased with the HVX200's slow motion capabilities.  "It's an absolutely fantastic feature," he noted.  "It really helped me accentuate the artistry of the Chinese figure skaters."

Chan continued, "I feel that in certain documentary situations, the compactness and low profile of the HVX200 are great advantages as the camera is less obtrusive and disruptive where it is very important that the camera crew fit in with their surroundings, and where the subjects can feel more comfortable, less camera-shy and forget that there's a big camera on someone's shoulder."

"I tell colleagues that the HVX200 is a great camera because of its size, portability and image quality," he said.  It's a perfect second camera for film or HD since you can mount it on the dashboard of a car or use it handheld running down a football field.  For me, it's the equivalent of film's Aaton A-Minima; you can get shots with it that you just can't get with other video cameras."

The ultra-versatile HVX200 records in 1080i and 720p in production-proven 100 Mbps DVCPRO HD quality, with the ability to capture images in 21 record modes. The DVCPRO HD format offers users cost-effective, intra-frame compression, where each frame stands on its own for editing, and its full 4:2:2 color sampling allows the image to hold up under color correction. The camera records video on a P2 card as IT-friendly MXF files in 1080/60i, 30p and 24p; in 720/60p, 30p and 24p; in 50Mbps DVCPRO50 and in 25Mbps DVCPRO or DV. The HVX200 can capture fast or slow action in 720p at various frame rates--the first time this function is available in a hand-held camera. The shooting frame rate in 720p native mode can be set for any of 11 steps between 12fps and 60fps including 24fps and 30fps. For more information on the AG-HVX200, visit
About Panasonic Broadcast   
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems.  Panasonic Broadcast is a unit company of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the North American headquarters of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC) of Japan, and the hub of its U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations  For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the company's web site at

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Related Keywords:Panasonic HVX200 , Panasonic AJ-HDC27 HD Cinema VariCam, Samson Chan,


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