Emmy Award-winning Director of Photography Bill Mills joined a 10-day safari this spring to three of the most important big cat conservation areas in southern Africa, which he documented with our AG-HPX250 P2 HD handheld camcorder.
Bill, a longtime Panasonic shooter and the president of Florida Film & Video in Tampa, was invited by Chris Liebenberg, the owner of Piper and Heath Travel, an American-based company that specializes in African destinations, to cover the 2012 Exposé Safari , a sold-out trip that introduced its participants to the spectrum of big cat conservation in South Africa and Botswana. The master-quality video he shot in the Mala Mala Game Reserve (http://vimeo.com/digitalcinedp/malamala), the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Duba Plains Camp will be used by Piper and Heath as an on-line travelogue of the safari for media and prospective clientele. The AVC-Intra images that Bill captured are also expected to generate interest in the 2013 Exposé Safari, which will focus on big apes.
“My HPX3700 P2 HD VariCam would have been an ideal choice to photograph these unique and underexposed safari sites,” he said. “However, we were traveling on small bush planes with stringent weight restrictions. The HPX3700 weights close to 11 pounds, and that’s before adding a lens and viewfinder. The HPX250 weighs half that, with lens, and includes an on-board EVF and monitor.
“I own Sony EX-series cameras, which might have been suitably lightweight, but I needed longer lensing for close-ups of the animals. The HPX250’s 22x Optical zoom is equivalent to a 28-616mm lens in the 35mm format, so it provided an exceptional range of lens options in a compact package. And I could shoot broadcast-quality, 4:2:2, AVC-Intra footage, which is critical for my intended residual use of the material for stock footage.”
Bill experienced long days during which he was challenged to work out of safari vehicles without inconveniencing the tour participants. “I was definitely a one-man band on this assignment, and the HPX250 excelled at on-the-fly interviews and overall impromptu shooting. I made extensive use of time lapse and variable frame rate capture, which lent a graceful effect to the animals,” he said.
“I’d be hard pressed to find another camera out there that would have served me as well on the tour. The combination of the longer lensing and on-board, master quality shooting is definitely distinctive.”
Bill is editing the safari video in Final Cut Pro. For more information about him and his company, visit www.flhd.tv.
For more information about Piper and Heath Travel and its pioneering conservation tourism, visit www.piperandheath.com.