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Sony Brings Woodstock Back to Life

Sony Brings Woodstock Back to Life

Articles - Cinematography

Classic rock fans, both those who witnessed Woodstock firsthand in 1969 and those who weren’t even born at the time, have a reason to celebrate. This weekend, the iconic music event will be relived on television—just in time for Woodstock’s 40th anniversary. Both VH1 and the History Channel will air the premiere of “Woodstock: Now and Then,” a new documentary shot with Sony HDV camcorders.

The documentary merges film footage from Michael Wadleigh’s original Woodstock movie with new HD interview footage recorded on the Sony cameras. Academy Award winning director-producer Barbara Kopple (Harlan County, USA), who oversaw the project, chose the Sony HVR-Z7U and S270U HDV camcorders for their high-quality imaging and versatility, especially in changing shooting conditions from natural light to low light.

“We’re documentary filmmakers; we shoot in every possible environment,” Kopple says. “In the span of minutes we’d be shooting a concert performance in the back of a large and well-lit club on sticks and then have to make adjustments for hand-held shots in low-light backstage corridors. The Z7U and S270U are so versatile, there isn’t much they can’t do.”

The new documentary looks at Woodstock from various perspectives: fans who gathered for the three-day concert, the musicians who played, and the festival organizers and promoters who put it all together.

Kopple had to integrate several different film formats of historic footage with the HDV content they shot, but she added that she was consistently happy with how the new footage looked side-by-side with the archival materials they received.

“It was never a concern that playing both film and HDV would be jarring for the viewer because they look like the same movie,” she said. “These cameras give a wonderful ‘film’ look, that’s crisp but never cold.”

The two cameras are Sony’s newest HDV camcorders, designed specifically for video production professionals and pro-sumers with features like interchangeable lens systems, native progressive recording, increased sensitivity for low-light conditions and hybrid solid-state recording (the ability to use both tape and/or flash media).

“Woodstock: Now and Then” airs on VH1 on August 14 and History on August 17.

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