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Old February 18th, 2010, 08:51 PM   #1
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Going ape with the HMC-40

Hi all,

A group of 10 former labratory chimpanzees from New Mexico arrived at their new home today - a 150-acre sanctuary in Fort Pierce, FL.

This facility is amazing - they have some of the original Air Force aerospace research chimps (believe it or not, there are a few still alive), plus other chimps saved from research facilities and the like. The late Dr. Carole Noon, an anthropologist/primatologist, founded Save the Chimps while suing the Air Force for custody of the space chimps after the agency dropped the program. Jane Goodall is a member of the board of directors.

Unfortunately, the facility doesn't offer tours to the public due to the chimps being very sensitive to strangers. But on occasion the media gets a peek behind the gates:

Videos: New residents arrive at Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce - Treasure Coast, FL | TCPalm.com

It was a royal pain trying to film the primates in their inside enclosures. As you can see, chain-link abounds. I used manual focus a couple times, but couldn't keep up with the on-the-move chimps. I won't even mention the problem I had with the wind noise on the outside interview (and what I had to do to salvage it).

Videos: The journey to Save the Chimps - Treasure Coast, FL | TCPalm.com

Tomorrow, the chimps are going to be released into the outdoor sanctuary. There's chain-link running along the perimeter, but there are a couple of boardwalks the staff uses to access parts of the outdoor area for feeding or tending to an injured chimp. The media group is returning tomorrow and hopefully, we will get a chance to shoot from the boardwalks and get better footage. Stay tuned.
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Old February 20th, 2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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This is a great story Sherri. I like your style and can't wait to see the next episode.

Thanks for sharing..
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Old February 20th, 2010, 04:57 PM   #3
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Dan,

And here is part 2. It was an amazing thing to watch yesterday. And even more amazing when you stop to consider that some of these chimps had basically lived their lives in cages and had never even touched grass before. Some of the sanctuary staff were in tears, especially when Bobby - a former research chimp who started mutilating himself in frustration - came outside for the first time. It was a "wow" moment for sure.


Videos: Chimps finally touch ground - Treasure Coast, FL | TCPalm.com
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Old February 21st, 2010, 07:54 PM   #4
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Looked good, Sherri as usual.

What are you using to record the audio?
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Old February 21st, 2010, 11:04 PM   #5
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Thanks, Paul.

I use a Rode Videomic with the HMC-40. And I found out Thursday how valuable a Dead Cat wind muff can be. I forgot the muff in my car that day and was too lazy to go retrieve it. Then the wind started whipping like mad while my TV reporter colleague and I were interviewing the sanctuary director. My audio came out like crap and I had to sub in the audio from the TV reporter's camera (he had put a wireless mike on her, thank heavens).

Needless to say, the muff was on the mike for Friday.

I've had many people comment that they couldn't tell a difference in audio quality between my Videomic videos and those shot using an XLR mike. For my purpose - Web video - I've been very pleased with the Videomic's performance.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 05:35 AM   #6
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Very nice!
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 06:54 AM   #7
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Lovely work on so many levels from the actual Save the Chimps project itself to your excellent use of the HMC40. Having shot with and having reviewed the camera, it is great to see it used to its full potential. And glad you learned the hard way about dead cats ;)

But we're techies here-- could you give us specs of your shoot (frame rate, etc), NLE, compression scheme as well as any challenges you might have encountered editing and delivering the AVCCAM footage.

Good stuff-- and I'm jealous because that's the kind of work I like to do ;)

Ned Soltz
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 03:28 PM   #8
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Hi Ned,

I shot in 1080/60i, then downconverted to AVI with Panasonic's free transcoder.
I use Premiere Pro CS4 to edit then render to h.264/mp4, 576w x 324h, 29.97fps, progressive, using a 1-pass vbr of 0.65 to 1.50 mbps. I'm not exactly happy with the quality that compression scheme produces, but that's what has been mandated by corporate to keep bandwidth costs low.
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Old February 22nd, 2010, 03:37 PM   #9
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Thanks, Sherri

We always have those trade-offs between optimal quality and bandwidth availability.

But the images and editing are very compelling and that's what is most important.

Will certainly look forward to future segments.

Ned
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Old February 28th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #10
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Sherri, great videos. How satisfying to be a part of such a noble effort. I am curious as to what tripod arrangement you use. I am interested in the HMC-40 mainly because of weight and quality of videos. I would prefer not to have to lug around a heavy tripod setup for a lighter weight camera. I have read alot here about the need for a good tripod so I am perplexed what to do. Thanks.
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Old February 28th, 2010, 08:50 PM   #11
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Hi Ladd,

Thanks for the kind words.

I use this monopod out in the field:
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-561BHDV-Video-Monopod-Replaces/dp/B002BSH2L4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1267409710&sr=8-1
It has three little steel feet at the bottom that fold out for extra stabilization. I chose it after conferring with others on the forum who have it and like it. I was looking for something highly mobile, yet sturdy. And it's also fairly light, which was another plus as I am not very strong. And it has a very fluid panning motion. After using it for several months, I can say I am quite pleased with it.

I have not used the HMC-40 on a tripod yet. When I cover press conferences or have a lengthy interview situation, I usually shoot with one of my Sony Handycams on a lightweight Velbon tripod. So I'll have to defer to other forum members for suggestions on a good tripod match for the Panny.
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