George Elder’s Luminair is in post on the eighth season of “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” PBS’ top-rated cooking show hosted by restaurateur/chef Rick Bayless.
It will air in early September on WTTW/11 and 90% of PBS stations.
Accompanied by the Luminair crew, Bayless, the colorful owner of Frontera and Topolobampo restaurants, visits a different part of Mexico each season to discover traditional Mexican cuisine that can be prepared with modern interpretations.
For the upcoming season, Bayless, Luminair’s executive producer Elder, director/editor Scott Dummler and DP Bob Long spent three weeks in April in Baja, Mexico, shooting on locations with three cameras.
Two of the three cameras were new Panasonics: the AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD camcorder, used as is “Mexico’s” primary camera and the AG-HVX200A P2 HD handheld as the second camera.
They are also being used for location segments of “Ebert Presents at the Movies,” supervised by Dummler, and for a special “The Making of …” episode that will air on the show in September.
“The first camera we used on ‘Mexico’ was the seminal AJ-SDX900, which gave us Panasonic’s classic 24p cinematic look,” says Elder.
“That filmic legacy continued with our use of the HPX2000 and HVX200As. It’s a one-third chip, not as high quality as the 2000, but it’s still HD and broadcast resolution.
“We’d typically used the HPX2000 on a Steadicam, with the HVX200As operated handheld for food close-ups and other tight shots.”
“Gorgeous images” from new HD Panasonics
When the show approached season eight, which entailed lengthy location work in Baja, Mexico, Elder wanted to get rid of the Steadicam and go for a more documentary feel.
“Our initial thought was that an HDSLR would be a lightweight, easy-to-use solution, but I could see that there were inherent production liabilities,” he says.
After researching camera options, Elder and Dummler arrived at the AF100. He says he realized the AF100 was an actual video camera, not a still camera tricked out to be a video camera.
“It had all the features we were used to in video cameras with the smallness and light weight of a DRSL. When you shoot for 10-12 hours a day, those bigger cameras get heavy and unmanageable,” he says. “And the images we get are just gorgeous.”
Elder recalls when Long was shooting an Ebert segment on the red carpet in Cannes how the AF100 was a head turner. “We were working lean with the camcorder on a lightweight set of sticks, and all the guys with the big, clunky set-ups were giving us the onceover. It was easy for us to work close enough to get nice, waist-up shots of the celebrities.”
Dummler notes that Final Cut Pro editing is easier with AF100 footage vs. HDSLRs. “No rendering is required. It’s easier and faster, which was crucial while we were on location in Cannes, where we could go back to our hotel and edit web segments to air that day or the next.”
Luminair’s current project is producing all corporate images and training components for Levy Restaurants.
Luminair’s phone is 773 /227-3456.