Headlines > News > Zoom Lens Captures “X-PRIZE” Event

Zoom Lens Captures “X-PRIZE” Event

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Jan 11, 2005 8:04 pm
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hollywoodindustry.com: (January 10,2005) Science Channel and CNN use “breakthrough” lens to capture space launch
When coverage of the first launch of a commercial spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, aired live on The Science Channel and on CNN, both crews were shooting with Fujinon’s revolutionary telephoto zoom lenses. The Science Channel utilized Fujinon’s XA101×8.9BESM, and CNN captured the event with an XA87×13.2BESM lens.

The spaceship, privately funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed and built by Burt Rutan, captured the $10 million prize. After an hour climb beneath the belly of the turbo jet White Knight, spacecraft pilot Brian Binnie rocketed straight up into the clear blue skies over the Mojave Desert, cleanly winning not only the Ansari X-PRIZE but also shattering a 42-year-old altitude record.

There to capture it all live using Fujinon’s 101x zoom was Evergreen Films’ Pierre de Lespinois for The Science Channel. de Lespinois with a Sony 900 24P high definition camera.

de Lespinois, Executive Producer and Director for Evergreen Films and winner of four Emmy Awards, also used the same Fujinon lens for a recent one-hour special, “Red Flag,” scheduled to air March 31st at 8pm on Discovery’s new Military Channel (formerly Discovery Wings Channel).

de Lespinois said that the 101x’s Precision Focus Assist system, and its image stabilization features were key, particularly for the launch of the rocket ship. Fujinon’s Precision Focus Assist system is a built-in feature that enables the operator to precisely adjust the lens for optimum focus.

Precise focus is critical when shooting in HD. Smaller viewfinders on HD cameras are harder to resolve, and operators sometimes believe they’ve achieved focus when they haven’t. Slightly out-of-focus shots are much more noticeable in higher resolution HD. The Precision Focus Assist system addresses such focus issues common to HD production.

de Lespinois’ crew said at a certain height he couldn’t see the rocket with the naked eye. Despite that, he said, “We got fantastic images live with the Fujinon zoom. Thanks to its 101x magnification and unsurpassed wide angle ability, tracking isn’t a problem at all, but with a rocket accelerating away from a height of 60,000 feet, once you get onto it you’d better stay on it.”

The Fujinon zoom proved critical to the success of The Science Channel’s live coverage, said Stephen Burns, Senior Vice President & General Manager, The Science Channel. “The name of the game in live coverage is being there when the action happens,” he said. “The 101x put us in the action. It’s a breakthrough lens.”

Previously, Burns was a cinematographer with National Geographic and the Discovery Channel and has a real appreciation for the tools of the trade. “There were a host of important people at the event,” he said, “but it comes down the image of SpaceShipOne in flight. That is the heart and soul of our footage. The challenge was to fill the frame, and the Fujinon 101x really performed for us.”

A one-hour version of The Science Channel’s live X Prize event is being produced and will air early this year.

About Fujinon
Fujinon is a major manufacturer and distributor of optics and lens assemblies for the broadcast, digital cinema, and industrial markets. The company’s line of television zoom lenses are used in virtually every segment of the broadcast industry, including electronic newsgathering, studio and field production, and high definition television .

For more information about Fujinon broadcast and communications products, call 1-973-633-5600 or visit our web site at www.fujinonbroadcast.com.

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