Josh Gibson, Associate Director and Instructor, Program in the Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina), has just won the Grand Prize of an AF100 large imager HD cinema camera at Panasonic’s “Five Flavors of Filmmaking” contest held at Slamdance 2012 (Park City, UT). For the competition, five teams were each assigned a flavor and challenged to create a one-minute film using the AF100, the festival’s official camera.
Josh, who also had a film, “Kudzu Vine,” screening in the festival’s Americana Documentary Shorts block, was assigned “watermelon.”
“I had never seen Park City before, arrived in a blizzard, promptly had a minor car accident, and didn’t have any cast or crew,” Josh said. “I was the first up in the contest, and had about eight hours with the AF100, so decided to try out one of the assignments I often give my cinematography students, to create a visual interpretation of a haiku. I actually chose three poems by 17th century Japanese haiku poet, Basho.
The haikus all mentioned a food item—a watermelon whacked in half, a white fish, and leek tips—that could be purchased at a local supermarket. Josh trained the AF100, outfitted with vintage Russian Lomo lenses (one chosen for extreme close-up work), on the groceries, with the fresh Utah snow as a backdrop. His lyrical paean to the fruit, fish and vegetable was praised for its austere beauty.
A veteran operator of the HVX200 P2 HD handheld, Josh said it was easy to pick up the AF100 and intuitively feel confident shooting. “While I hadn’t previously worked with the AF100, I was familiar with it. With its built-in ND filters and XLR inputs, I certainly consider it a big step-up from HDSLRs.”
“I really love the ability to put different lenses on it and configure the camera in all kinds of ways,” he added.
Josh shot “Watermelon” in the camcorder’s highest quality PH mode; he edited the 60-second piece in Final Cut Pro.
The film educator will not have to share his AF100 with his students. Duke University’s new MFA Program in Experimental and Documentary Arts currently has two AF100s, which are in constant use by the graduate students. He has plans to spend his summer vacation as the Director of Photography on a feature film that will be shot with the AF100.
“Winning the Panasonic ‘Five Flavors’ competition was a huge Cinderella moment for me,” Josh said. “It was wonderful to come back from Park City with two films recognized by Slamdance.”