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Shooting with precision HDCAM/SR

Why high-end documentaries such as The Emperor’s Secret Garden and The Wildest Dream are turning to Sony kit


FORBIDDEN SECRETS IN BEIJING Steve Standen on why the HDW-F900R has become an industry workhorse at the top end of the camera market

Sky Arts documentary The Emperor’s Secret Garden tells the story of the painstaking five year restoration by conservationists from the East and West of one of China’s most beautiful buildings – the 18th Century private lodge in the Qianlong Garden complex in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Shot by local Chinese crews on the Sony HDW-

F900R, the 60-minute film from DCD Media-owned West Park Pictures focuses on the ornate workmanship of the building, so a camera capable of capturing the highest quality HD images was required. Assistant producer Ailsa Fereday recalls that the

HDW-F900R excelled in coping with interior shooting by torchlight. “We were trying to recreate the whole sense of discovery –with Western conservation experts uncovering the decaying splendour of this architectural masterpiece for the first time. Shooting the exploration of the building by torchlight, the camera did really well

at finding detail in low light conditions.”

Cameraman Steve Standen, who shot some of the European interviews for The Emperor’s Secret Garden, also using the HDW-F900R, is another big fan of the camera, which he says has become an industry workhorse at the top-end of the market. “It’s rock solid and bullet proof,” says Standen. “A really useful and dependable top-end camera, which can be used on documentary, TV drama and commercials. I like the pictures you can get out of the F900R and I find it’s very versatile in the grade.” Capable of shooting with a very wide latitude, Standen points out that different gamma curve presets are easy to select. “In a high contrast situation you can see into the shadow and produce really good images in the grade and in low contrast situations you know you can extend the dynamic range.”

Summer 2010 theproducer 19

igh-end Sony camera including the HDW- F900R CineAlta, are establishing a firm reputation as versatile models across a

range of genres, from documentary to drama and commercials. This month we feature three factual programmes which have benefited from the HD quality of cameras such as the aforementioned F900R, the HDW-790P and HDW-750P. Their versatility has helped Sony HDCAM become firmly established as the de facto HD production format worldwide. Here we look at three projects where their comparative low weight combined with the highest HD quality has seen these stalwarts used on high-end jobs, from Sky Arts documentary The Emperor’s Secret Garden to IMAX feature The Wildest Dream, where four HDW-F900Rs were taken up Everest for one of the most complicated and difficult shoots ever carried out by producers Altitude Films and Atlantic Productions.

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