Using Panasonic’s AJ-HPX2100 tapeless camera with 32GB P2 storage cards, Mendoza’s next documentary, The Land of the Four Vultures, is already underway and will be the first HD production by the director and the first production in Spain to use the AVC-Intra 100 compression format.
Mendoza’s documentaries have been purchased by key broadcasters all over the world and have often competed at film festivals against major players like BBC, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. These achievements have not changed the fact that Mendoza is primarily a natural historian, not an expert on television production.
“That means by nature I am conservative when it comes to making decisions on technology, but the Panasonic cameras and production tools offer so many clear advantages that they do in fact become the obvious choice,” Mendoza says.
In selecting Panasonic P2 cameras, Mendoza’s aim was to choose technology that would deliver the highest quality and ensure the longest life for his documentaries. Most importantly, the picture quality delivered by the Panasonic cameras provides the most detailed and accurate imagery of the wildlife featured in his work. “I want my documentaries to really communicate effectively to viewers and continue to be a valuable resource for decades to come; that requires the ultimate in image quality.”
Mendoza’s crew ran several days of tests with rented P2 cameras before making a decision. “We shoot a lot of very small flora and fauna, so detail, resolution and good performance in demanding conditions are essential. The texture and colorimetry of the images is outstanding. What really convinced me was the footage we shot of frogs; when we watched it, I felt I could almost touch the skin of the animal.
“Shooting in 10-bit with this camera’s cine-like gamma curves allows an enormous amount of versatility in postproduction. This contributes to an image quality that represents the subject in the best possible way.”
Another important feature of the Panasonic cameras highlighted by Mendoza is the pre-record function, which continuously buffers eight seconds of video before the record button is pressed. “This allows us to capture action after it happens, and it saves us a huge amount of time on location. Natural history documentary makers have to wait hours, days and weeks for the wildlife we are filming to exhibit the behavior we want to see, but with the pre-record facility, we have been able to reduce our total shooting time because we never miss any action. Now we capture in a couple of hours the same amount of footage that it used to take us a day to shoot.”
Mendoza also highlights Panasonic’s outstanding post-sales support service as a life-saver for busy filmmakers. “Two months after we took delivery of our cameras, we dropped one from a great height and smashed it completely while shooting on location. The service from Panasonic was incredible; a replacement was supplied to us on location within five days, and there was real warmth from the support team.”
Such is Mendoza’s confidence in the marketability of documentaries shot with P2 that he is planning to re-shoot an entire documentary, to guarantee its long-term availability. “Tramposos (Tricksters) is a film we made about animals that trick their prey, and it’s won many prestigious awards. I’m so proud of it, but it was shot on a format that will soon be obsolete, and I want to give it a longer life in the market. It will take one whole year to re-shoot, but I want to do it to ensure that viewers of the future will be able to enjoy it at the highest possible quality.”
“Specialist production companies like Alvaro Mendoza Productions create some of the most compelling and culturally valuable content available to viewers,” says Toni Feliu, sales manager at PBITS Spain. “It gives us at Panasonic real pleasure to be able to provide them with the technology to match the best on the world stage, and ensure the highest quality and longevity for their productions.”
About Alvaro Mendoza Productions
Since 1991, Alvaro Mendoza Productions has completed more than 60 documentaries focusing on animal behavior. With a roster of customers including the BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, TVE, TV5, ZDF and RAI, Alvaro Mendoza Productions has won numerous awards for its nature documentaries. While addressing very different themes, the company’s productions are all concerned with the relationship between fauna and humans. In the years since its founding, the company has assembled a select team of nature experts who have become professionals in the different branches and techniques of the audiovisual world.