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Justin Weinstein Shoots Magical Footage with Panasonic’s HPX250

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In their latest documentary “An Honest Liar,” filmmakers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom take on the intriguing story of James “The Amazing” Randi with the Panasonic’s HPX250. The project chronicles the life of Randi, a famous magician, escape artist, mentalist, writer and skeptic, which is what he’s perhaps best known for today. In recent years, Randi has become a legendary “debunker” of paranormal claims and pseudoscience.

As much of the shooting for this project consists of following Randi all over the globe and at times interviewing him in unique locations, Weinstein knew he needed a camera with the automatic settings and flexibility to capture shots quickly and at times spontaneously, with imagery that still reflected the sophisticated cinematic look of a professional HD camera.

Utilizing top-rated professional video products was nothing new to Weinstein. Weinstein is a highly regarded documentary filmmaker; in fact, “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” which he wrote and edited together with Philip Shane, debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Weinstein had previously used Panasonic professional video equipment and had especially liked working with the Panasonic AG-HVX200 camcorder. Weinstein knew he needed a camera with the automatic settings and flexibility to capture shots quickly and at times spontaneously, with imagery that still reflected the sophisticated cinematic look of a professional HD camera.

Weinstein mentions, “I had used the HVX200 to shoot both broadcast and feature documentaries, so I knew the workflow and its capabilities.” The timing was perfect when the AG-HPX250, Panasonic’s first P2 HD handheld camcorder with 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording, was released. The camera had functionality for multiple shooting scenarios and met the additional feature requirements for Weinstein’s “An Honest Liar” project.

“The fabulous 22x zoom lens on the HPX250 has given me great freedom shooting. I don’t have to carry and swap three different lenses with different focal lengths,” notes Weinstein. “But we also needed a camera with really gorgeous image capabilities that would hold up on a big screen for a theatrically released documentary. Once we learned about the HPX250 and its master-quality recording and exceptionally fast P2 HD workflow, we knew it would fit the bill.”

Weinstein has traveled all over Europe, chronicling Randi’s everyday life and carrying with him the handheld AG-HPX250.  Thanks to the camera’s practical size (only 5 ½ pounds) Weinstein could capture candid footage at a moment’s notice.

Additional features Weinstein highlights are the genlock, timecode, HD-SDI and HDMI input/outputs for multi-camera operation, and the camcorder’s widescreen LCD monitor. The lens’ image stabilizer is also a big help while shooting with a handheld camcorder. The production team uses the HPX250’s AVC-Intra 100 recording format and records to Panasonic’s flagship P2 cards.

To learn more about Panasonic’s HPX250 P2 HD handheld camcorder, please visit the Panasonic website. You can also check-out the film’s website to learn more about “An Honest Liar,” which is still in production.

Weinstein and Measom will continue traipsing the globe, documenting James Randi for the rest of this summer. The crew plans to wrap “An Honest Liar” in time for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

Read the rest of our AG-HPX250 Behind the Camera Series here.

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