The documentary special "Expedition Grizzly," which airs this Sunday, May 3 on National Geographic Channel and features naturalist Casey Anderson and Brutus, the 800-pound bear that is his full-time companion, was produced with Panasonic's P2 HD solid-state camcorders.
Production firm Grizzly Creek Films of Bozeman, Mont. used the AJ-HPX3000 native 1080p camcorder, AG-HPX500 2/3" shoulder-mount and handheld AG-HVX200 camcorders to capture Casey and Brutus exploring Yellowstone National Park and seeking out its isolated population of some 600 grizzly bears. The show was shot last spring to coincide with the Yellowstone bears coming out of hibernation.
"The biggest challenge we faced going into production was figuring out how to simultaneously capture the natural history of the Yellowstone Grizzly and Anderson's on-camera analysis and reactions," said producer/director of photography Thomas Winston in a statement. "Unlike the grizzly bears often photographed in Alaska or along the roadside in Yellowstone National Park, the wild Yellowstone bears can be very difficult to locate and document because they are quick to retreat at the first sign of human intrusion. Consequently, I devised a two-camera strategy that integrates dynamic hand-held verité footage of Casey tracking and observing the bears with classic, blue-chip natural history footage of the awesome grizzlies."
Winston and fellow producer Leslie Gaines used the HVX200 handheld unit to capture the verité footage of Anderson, while the HPX500 was utilized for the long lens and more classic natural history footage. An HPX3000 with a Fujinon 13x4.5 wide angle HD lens was also used late in the shoot.
In the field, the P2 footage was downloaded and backed-up onto one-terabyte FireWire 800 drives from Maxx Digital, then offloaded to a Quantum LTO-3 deck upon returning to Grizzly Creek's facility. Editing was performed with Apple's Final Cut Pro 6 nonlinear editing software.