Filament Wraps the Music Voyager

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Tue, 01/12/2010 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

Denver-based Filament Productions recently wrapped production on the upcoming television series The Music Voyager a travel and adventure-based music show that explores the roots of popular music originating in countries around the world. 
 Set to debut in the U.S. this year The Music Voyager takes viewers on a journey to unique destinations around the world to discover the culture uncover popular local music and understand its contemporary significance all while showing adventures the location has to offer. The show will be broadcast on American Public Television/PBS affiliate stations throughout the U.S. on National Geographic Channels International’s Nat Geo Music and Nat Geo Adventure channels (internationally for the first season) as well as on other local broadcast partners (CVM Jamaica etc.) and online. Kelly Magelky is the director and chief editor. Rod Blackhurst and Oliver Cheneval served as director of photographers for the India and Jamaica shoots respectively.
Initial episodes shot earlier this year with Panasonic’s AG-HVX200 P2 HD handheld camcorders feature the Northern regions of India including Mumbai New Delhi Jaipur and Jodphur. Upon availability of the Panasonic HPX300 camera the production crew jumped at the chance to take the P2 HD camcorder to Jamaica for an 11-day shoot documenting the roots of reggae music in the homeland of world-renowned music legend Bob Marley. 
“I had many concerns after reading our schedule for Jamaica as it seemed most shoots were going to be at night and most likely in areas difficult to find lighting ” says director Magelky. “I did some tests at home in Colorado and found that the HPX300 had an amazing capability to handle low lighting. I kept checking the shutter speed gain etc. and was truly amazed at what I was seeing. Fast forward to Jamaica – we were indeed in many locations where lighting would be an issue but the camera delivered great results. I was amazed at the footage even while in the edit.”
“A large part of why our show is being received well by our broadcast partners is that we capture great imagery. We absolutely pride ourselves on the fact that every single frame is a knock-out. The HPX300 delivers such a wide dynamic range and color palette that the show sells itself ” says Magelky. “Consistent responses that we hear are that the colors are amazing (pre-color correction). The camcorder does a great job of capturing blacks and reds. Our DP was able to make gamma corrections on the fly very easily and we were able to get the image and color we wanted.”
 The segments were shot in 720p/30PN in AVC-Intra 100. “We created scene files for day night overcrank (60fps) and undercrank (12fps) ” says Magelky. “We shot a large amount of scenics at 60fps and sunsets/sunrises at 12fps. For me the big benefit of AVC-Intra is in post-production. I’m finding that the footage handles effects and web compression really well and general picture quality is definitely impressive.”
 “There were many bonuses to shooting with the HPX300 ” he says. “The camera’s ability to handle dark situations without gaining was excellent. We didn’t have to up the gain at all. Also because the camera was shoulder-mounted and not too heavy we were able to shoot a lot of moving interviews. I personally thought the ease of viewing clips on location was great.” 
 Magelky continues “I was very surprised at how quickly the camera was able to switch to the viewing mode and back to camera mode. This was a huge time saver and it made me feel comfortable asking to see certain scenes on the fly. As for battery life – we never had to worry about it – that’s priceless. We needed a variety of focal lengths when dealing with this show and the lens we used (17x HD Fujinon lens) worked really well. The quality of the viewfinder was incredible; it was nice to know we had focus during the shoots.” 
 The crew utilized twelve 8GB P2 cards. “While we could have used larger cards the capability to hot swap cards kept us from any real issues. Each night or even between shoots I would manage the media by offloading through my computer. The quality of the footage is great but more importantly the integrity of the footage during and after post-production is superior; it holds up very well ” Magelky says. “This is a great codec – especially as so much footage is online these days. Even if it’s on air it usually ends up being streamed online as well and this codec is great to work with overall.” 
 The Music Voyager is being edited in Final Cut Studio Pro 7. The Music Voyager National Geographic Channels International