ITV Productions is kitting out the production of long-running soap 'Emmerdale' with Ikegami HD cameras. The _567,000 investment is for eight Ikegami HDK-79 EX III studio cameras, seven XJ22 Canon lenses and a HJ11ex4.7 BIASE super wide angle across two sound stages in Leeds, writes Adrian Pennington.
According to Paul Bennett, director of northern resources, ITV Productions, the review process began two years ago. "We needed to replace the cameras on 'Coronation Street' and at that time the cost of moving from SD to HD was too high," he said. "We bought SD replacements but importantly with Canon XJ22 HD lenses which enable us to perform deep focus pulls without zooming in. It's a technique that's been used with Primes on feature film and high-end drama for many years and we wanted to achieve those much higher production values on 'Emmerdale'."
The Ikegami-supplied cameras replace Thomson studio cameras which had come to the end of their lifecycle. "We had them for eleven years and the service costs were staring to get too high," says Bennett. "We can't afford downtime so it became essential to replace them."
Extensive tests on all major manufacturer's product saw the potentials whittled down to two. Six weeks of tests using the actual cast decided the winner.
"Ikegami had the best combination of performance, suitability to 'Emmerdale' and cost. We've used Ikegami before (currently on 'Coronation Street') and the company offers great support."
Production will remain SD with the signal downconverted in the CCU to SD. "We're driven by the market. If ITV decides to move HD we're ready. As any major piece of kit comes up for renewal we are going the HD route."
On-location cameras, which are currently Sony HDW 790Ps will be also replaced by Ikegami cameras recording via triax to mobile vans featuring mini-servers.
"This route is much quicker and more robust than using solid state camcorders which require a bird's nest of wiring to enable operators to see what everyone's shooting and to match shots," says Bennett.
The ITV Productions team behind 'Coronation Street' is currently moving from posting on individual workstations to a shared storage based on Avid Isis with studio footage to be recorded directly to disc. A member of the post production staff is dedicated to assessing whether this workflow can also be used for 'Emmerdale'.
Delivery of the cameras is scheduled for April after which more tests will be conducted.