LOS ANGELES - MTV's hit reality series "Laguna Beach" has seen benefits from Panasonic's DVCPro technology that will continue into its second season, starting next week. The unscripted series featuring the drama behind the lives of teenagers from well-off families got a boost from DP Hisham Abed who decided early on to make the show look more like an episodic drama than a quickie reality show. "It needed to be cinematic," Abed says. "Our pursuit began at Wexler Video Corp. [Burbank] when we looked at all the relevant new cameras and tested a number of combinations of lenses and cameras. We found the SDX900, with its 24p mode and film-like gamma settings, to be the one camera that most closely approximated the look we were after."
"Laguna Beach" is edited on an Avid system and onlined with a full da Vinci color correct at West Post Digital.
Abed uses two two-camera crews for "Laguna Beach" which, along with its 16:9 aspect ratio, add to the show's cinematic look. Although the Panasonic AJ-SDx900 camera is standard def, it handles HD lenses that enhance the film-like feel in various shots. Abed is a veteran film DP who found that "the SDX900s have held up exceedingly well in a great variety of situations: we've traveled with them to Mexico, shooting off road ATVs, on the water and up in Mammoth Mountain shooting snowboarders - not to mention countless teenage parties!" He adds that "the areas of over exposure have a softness to them that I like - it's similar to film."