When it was time for the Pennsylvania-based production company ShadowBox Pictures to add HD to their production services, Director of Photography Ken Barbet chose HDCAM SR, utilizing Sony’s HDC-F950 camera and SRW-1 recording system.
ShadowBox Pictures’ decision to purchase the F950 package, rather than to rent it, makes them the first independent commercial production company to make the investment into Sony’s 4:4:4 system, and marks the beginning of two significant new trends in the market.
The first trend is a move of independent production companies towards HD 4:4:4 acquisition for mainstream commercials and features, outside of the ultra-high end NY and LA markets.
The second is the new tendency for production company’s that normally rent film or HD production gear, to make the move towards outright ownership of high-end equipment.
“Although our background is in film, we also have a lot of experience shooting in high definition for commercials and corporate projects. In the past, we’ve used the Sony F900 or Panasonic’s VariCam with favorable results,” notes Barbet.
“But, the significant advantages of the F950 for green screen and special effects work, in addition to the overall image quality, made our decision easier. For us, triple-four production is now the way to go.”
Being the first into the marketplace made the timing of the decision by Barbet and his team at ShadowBox critical. Barbet enlisted the help of Abel’s National Sales Manager Jeff Lawson and Abel’s Director of Technical Development Jesse Rosen to run an exhaustive analysis of the current market.
“This time last year, we were still shooting on 35mm and 16mm film for many of our projects,” explains Barbet. “But we wanted to bring something more to our clients, and determined that HDCAM SR would deliver the impact we were looking for.”
“Our clients that have experienced an HD 4:4:4 production really appreciate the enhanced visual look that the format delivers compared to film,” notes Tom Firchow, Director of Sales at ShadowBox Pictures. “We’re now suggesting the format when the project specifications call for it. No doubt, as they have more exposure to the look of HD 4:4:4, clients will begin to request it by name.
”A recent ShadowBox project that took full advantage of the compositing capabilities of the Sony 4:4:4 system was an effects-intensive commercial for Prince Tennis, which calls for the talent to ride a motorcycle around an ellipse that is ultimately revealed to be the inside track of a giant tennis racquet.
The Prince Tennis spot probably would have been shot on 35mm because of the complexity of effects,” Barbet surmises. “I’m not really sure we would have achieved the same results as we did with the F950 and HD 4:4:4.