…in Pismo Beach, California. I’m down here for a few days to check out the workflow of a friend’s P2 camera. Former KOVR reporter Lynn Diehl has a sweet deal working along the Central Coast Wine Region of California. A semi-weekly wine show called Wine Region News, which appears online and the old-fashioned way, on television.
Lynn’s 30+ years as a television reporter and anchor prepared her for hard work, but I was still amazed at the multi-tasking this one woman hurricane did on a minute-by-minute basis as well as throughout the 12 hour day. Like any good reporter, she was on the phone setting up the next appointment and preparing the groundwork for future shows…but she also writes a column and has a radio show and website to stay on top of. For my sanity, we’ll just follow the flow of the wine show.
First off, Lynn began with the right gear – she went with Panasonic P2 cameras that shoot both hi-def tape and to P2 cards. She rarely uses tape…that’s more of a backup system. So when I asked her about workflow, she had a few things to say.
First, the workflow is more film that tape based. Huh? As she explained, with tape you can keep rolling, keep rolling – but with P2 cards you get a limited amount of time per card (about 17-18 minutes) and the cards are expensive (just checked on B&H Photo and a 16GB card runs around $400. Re-usable, but they don’t have unlimited lives.
I began in film and recall the unofficial limits we had for shooting. 100′ for a VO, 150-200 for a VOSOT and 400′ for a package. Respectively 2-1/2 minutes, 4-5 minutes, and 11 minutes. It took careful planning – you didn’t just shoot, you had to think it through to make sure you got all of the required shots. We won’t even get into exposure (NOT automatic).
So shooting was different…and the Panasonics are different too -very compact and well-thought out with more goodies than I would have thought possible. XLR input, choice of auto or manual focus, iris, audio. Choices of on-cam mike, inputs can be mike or line. 13X zoom (yeah, we all miss the real glass of newscams). Even the white balance button is in the familiar location just in front of the camera below the lens on the right. And more. Wow.
On the first shoot at around 7am I was assigned a camera, tripod and instructions to make beautiful memories in the vineyards as the sun rose while Kathy Newell worked the interviews with Lynn.
It took fifteen, maybe twenty minutes to get used to handling the camera. I scoped the vineyard…on a steep hill with a series of dips down to a pond below. Had to drive through several access gates – the first one to get into the vineyard and the second to access the cattle grazing area with pond.
The drill was drive, set up, shoot, walk, shoot some more, and then pack and drive again. I was constantly adjusting iris and focus – didn’t rely on the auto system at all. The light was too tricky. I wanted dark shadows and glowing highlights…both in the detail shots of the grapes as well as the wide views of the sun rays hitting the slopes.
The camera performed beautifully…kept track of time with a countdown in the viewfinder.
Only worry was the herd of juvenile cattle. They LOVED me…started stalking me and getting as close as they could. Of course while I loved them back, I had to remind them I was the boss and shooed them away whenever they got too close. A couple of hormone-silly boys started butting heads too close to the car (is two feet too close?) so I packed it in and went down the hill, only to be followed by the entire herd at a rapid trot. Oh well…enough shots here. Back to the rest of the crew.
(to be continued…)