Neal's production company, Glass Slipper Productions (Landsdale, PA), a mainstay of Main Line events coverage since 1999, recently purchased the AVCHD handheld, which Neal has already used to shoot several weddings and a reality show pilot.
"I first saw the HMC150 at a WEVA convention and the image blew me away," Neal said. "The reproduction quality is second to none, sharp and crystal clear, exactly what I want when we're running and gunning. Since I've been working with the camcorder, I never have to second-guess whether I got the shot or worry about a dropped frame."
Glass Slipper offers prospective brides and grooms "a video-journalistic approach to capturing your wedding day, with no bright lights and a final production produced with a cinematic flavor." "The HMC150 is tailor-made for these signature criteria of ours," Neal said. "The camera performs superbly in low light and doesn't fall apart with gain. The user buttons are exactly where you want them to be. I love the Focus Assist (expanded focus) button; it's right at your finger tips and lets me get tight on an image while the camera is recording. Overall operation is intuitive, with no big learning curve."
Neal described a winter wedding shoot, with three HMC150s covering the pre-ceremony, ceremony and reception (the sources of the other AVCCAMs were some of his regular shooters, themselves HMC150 owners). "The reception was held in a beautiful venue, with 18-foot ceilings and no windows," he recounted. "The joke among us videographers is that this is where light goes to die. We shot in 1080/30p, slowing the shutter down to 30 because it was so dark. The letterboxed image in the LCD was brighter than what our eyes could see. The HMC150s handled the challenging lighting conditions beautifully."
"The HMC150's light weight (3.7 pounds) really makes a difference, especially with continuous Glidecam shots," Neal said. "The camcorder is well-balanced, and lets me get into tight areas without adding lenses, as the HMC150 starts out wide with its own extremely wide-angle lens (a 13X Leica Dicomar zoom)."
"Panasonic did the HMC150's audio right, right out of the gate. With the XLR two-channel input and built-in stereo microphone, I don't have to add a shotgun mic," he added.
Neal shoots with 16GB SDHC cards, which affords him the opportunity to record up to 90 minutes in the highest-quality PH mode on one card. The HMC150 records in a range of HD formats in four recording modes. Neal always records in the PH mode (average 21 Mbps/max. 24 Mbps), usually shooting 1080/60i, occasionally shooting 1080/30p or 720/24p.
"I love the media," Neal said. "The SDHC cards are readily available, high-capacity, quickly transferable-and inexpensive."
Beyond weddings, Glass Slipper undertakes other milestone events (birthdays, bar and bat mitzvahs, e.g.), as well as documentaries and local commercial shots. Neal has also utilized the HMC150 to shoot a reality show pilot about an abused woman turned rap star. Earlier this month, he deployed four HMC150s to shoot a full-length documentary profiling the annual World War II Weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (Reading, PA). The project will be delivered on Bu-Ray and DVD to the museum; trailers will be shown on the institution's web site as well.
"The workflow is phenomenal," Neal said. ""You pull the card off the camera and drop it into the NLE. It takes me about 12 minutes to offload footage, so essentially I get up and pour myself some coffee and I'm ready to edit. And in terms of color correction, I'm color correcting for enhancing, not for fixing mistakes: it's a meaningful difference."
Neal is currently editing on an Adobe Premier Pro CS3 system. For more information about Glass Slipper Productions, visit http://www.gspvideos.com.
About the AG-HMC150
Based on the proven design and advanced functionality of the highly popular DVX100, the HMC150 professional handheld AVCCAM camcorder provides professionals and enthusiasts alike the flexibility of high-quality 1080/720 AVCHD recording at bit rates up to 24Mbps and a simple, solid-state SD memory card workflow. AVCHD, the industry's new MPEG-4 / AVC Hi Profile compression format, provides a near doubling of bandwidth efficiency with improved video performance over the older MPEG-2 compression used in HDV formats. The handheld incorporates three 1/3-inch progressive CCD imagers to produce stunning 1920 x 1080 resolution picture quality. It is equipped with a high-performance wide-angle Leica DicomarTM 13x zoom lens, and 24 and 30-frame progressive capture in a full range of HD formats, making it well suited for all types of projects. For more information on the HMC150, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.
About Panasonic Broadcast
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a Unit of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC) and the hub of Panasonic's U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, visit http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast.