'An Honest Liar:' Capturing 'Magical' Footage with Panasonic’s HPX250
In their latest feature-length documentary, An Honest Liar, filmmakers Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom take on the story of James “The Amazing” Randi, chronicling the life the famous magician, escape artist, mentalist, writer and skeptic. In recent years, Randi has become a legendary “debunker” of paranormal claims and pseudoscience.
Much of the shooting for this project consists of following Randi around the globe and at times interviewing him in unique locations. Weinstein knew he would need a camera with the automatic settings and flexibility to capture shots quickly and at times spontaneously.
The documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, which Weinstein and Philip Shane wrote and edited, had been shot with Panasonic professional video equipment. Weinstein says of his experience with Panasonic’s offerings, “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 An Honest Liar.
“The 22x zoom lens on the HPX250 has given me great freedom in shooting. I don’t have to carry and swap three different lenses with different focal lengths,” says Weinstein. “We 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 to chronicle Randi’s everyday life with the handheld HPX250. Thanks to the camera’s compact size (5.5 lb.), the filmmaker was able to capture candid footage at a moment’s notice.
Weinstein also compliments the camera’s genlock, timecode, HD-SDI and HDMI input/outputs for multi-camera operation, and its widescreen LCD monitor. The lens’ image stabilizer is also a big help while shooting handheld. The production team uses the HPX250’s AVC-Intra 100 recording format and records to P2 cards.