Blue Angels: A Year in the Life Takes HD To New Heights With Canon Telephoto Lenses
LAKE SUCCESS, NY, March 25, 2005 – The awesome sight of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels, six tightly-packed F/A-18 Hornets executing precision moves at an altitude of 8,000 feet, have zoomed into living rooms in HD thanks to a new four-part documentary on the Military Channel.
Producing this dynamic High Definition video demanded the very best of people and equipment, which is why Henninger Productions and Director of Photography Rich Confalone chose Canon HD zoom lenses and the Panasonic VariCam.
“We could not have done this series without these lenses,” Confalone stated. “Canon is doing a great job making lenses for filmmakers and the HD images coming out of their glass look fabulous. These lenses were designed by people who truly understand how filmmakers work.”
The challenges in capturing never-before-seen views of the Blue Angels’ pilots in and out of the cockpit were immense, ranging from getting a steady shot in a moving aircraft to shooting in an extremely confined environment. Two portable EFP lenses, the HD HJ40x10B IASD-V and the HJ11ex4.7B wide-angle lens from Canon, empowered Confalone to surmount these difficulties as he shot the challenging series.
Confalone’s HJ40x10B, which is equipped with Canon’s unique Optical Image Stabilization system for shake-free shooting, was integral to getting previously unattainable long shots of the Blue Angels in flight.
“These planes can cover a mile in seven seconds and you’re following them at extreme angles,” Confalone explained. “You can’t tell from the ground, but they often fly only 18 inches apart! The goal was to shoot these maneuvers as closely as possible. With Shift-IS Image Stabilization built into the lens, you can keep a much steadier shot at the really long focal lengths, which gave us many more opportunities to see the true proximity of these aircraft.”
Confalone and Executive Producer/Director Brian Kelly, from Henninger Productions, worked with a Panasonic HD Varicam-based production package provided by Abel Cine Tech.
“There were some special considerations with the Blue Angels’ application that Canon lenses were uniquely suited to address,” noted Rich Abel, Vice President and Director of Operations for Abel Cine Tech. “The Canon HJ11ex4.7B has particularly low geometric distortion on the wide end, making it easy to use with confidence and exploit its extraordinary wide angle of view to really tell the Blue Angels’ story.”
The long focal length of the Canon HJ40x10B also made a big impression on Confalone. “The lens is unusually versatile and long for a piece of HD glass,” he says. “It’s 10mm-400mm, and then it has a 2X extender that takes it out to a maximum of 800mm. It’s also a very friendly lens for camera operators who want to use it in more practical applications that seek the special shot, as often sought in episodic television. For example, if you’re shooting scenes of people walking and talking while following them at 400mm down Fifth Avenue, this lens is a great choice.”
Blue Angels: A Year In The Life goes well beyond showing scenes of the Blue Angels’ jaw-dropping “Delta” and “Diamond” formations. The series also captured a year in the life of a pilot—both private and public—which included some intense images. Canon HD lenses helped Confalone capture those intimate and spontaneous storytelling moments.
“Just because it’s in HD doesn’t mean it has to be complex, and there’s a real need for mobility and portability in this show because the camera’s always around,” Confalone noted. “The goal of this production is for me to ‘be there without being there,’ and my non-intrusive perspectives are from the Canon HJ11ex4.7B. It gives you much more of a present feel and allows you to capture those moments where everyone’s comfortable and things just happen.”
A veteran cinematographer who got his start filming documentaries for National Geographic, Confalone expected true durability when he specified that Canon lenses were to be combined with his Panasonic VariCam camera for the series.
“There’s a definite comfort level in choosing Canon lenses,” Confalone said. “They afford me a high level of reliability. I knew they would be dependable for me in very extreme situations. I find myself in jungles, volcanoes, and sometimes hanging out of an airplane at 25,000 feet. In all the years I’ve had Canon equipment, I’ve never had a lens fail—and that level of reliability carried me through an extraordinary range of shooting on this series.”
Canon’s HD HJ40x10B IASD-V and HJ 11ex4.7B utilize the Power Optical System featuring the X-Element optical technology for highest quality performance in a compact and lightweight housing that contribute to the lens’ outstanding overall optical performance.
“Canon has produced a family of HD lenses that match up perfectly with a wide variety of HD production packages,” Confalone concluded. “They’re a really nice fit with all available HD cameras. That’s why I went the Canon route.”
About Rich Confalone: With a background deeply rooted in motion picture film, Rich Confalone is a freelance cinematographer who has established himself at the forefront of HDTV production. Confalone has more than 15 years of documentary film experience in all formats, from Super 16 film to HD cinematography. Over the years, he has partnered with documentary film’s most talented producers and technicians. Since 1997, he has worked regularly with the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Television. Confalone’s work is not limited to documentaries; he has also worked on commercials for companies such as FedEx, music videos for Sony and RCA, and high-end industrial campaigns for Microsoft.
About Military Channel: Launched in January 2005, the Military Channel is the only network providing viewers with the compelling stories of military life. Featuring real-world stories of heroism, military strategy, technological breakthroughs, and historical turning points, the network’s slate of series and specials are designed to take viewers “behind the lines.”
For more information on Canon HD lenses, visit www.canonbroadcast.com.