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SI: Woodstock: Now and Then - Shot With Sony HD Cameras

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The iconic music event, Woodstock, will be relived on television this weekend in time for the festival’s 40th anniversary. Both the VH1 and History networks will air the premiere of “Woodstock: Now and Then,” a new documentary shot with Sony HDV camcorders. The documentary merges film footage from the original Woodstock movie with new HD interview footage recorded on the Sony cameras. Academy Award® winning director/producer Barbara Kopple 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 said. “In the span of minutes we’d be shooting a concert performance in the back of a large and well-lit club on tripod 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. “Woodstock: Now and Then” airs on VH1 on August 14 and History on August 17.


The compact size of the handheld Sony Z7U created a comfortable environment for subjects being interviewed about their Woodstock experience. According to Kopple, “When it came to close-ups of Woodstock veterans reminiscing about how important the festival was to them, these cameras allowed us to capture warm and revealing footage.”


The shoulder-mount 270U added a perfect complement for longer shooting times that would have been difficult with a compact, handheld camera.

“When we knew we’d be shooting all day and night, we turned to the Sony 270U,” she said. “Being able to get the same great images and not force our shooters to hold the camera with their arms all day proved really helpful in conserving energy and being able to shoot for long periods of time.”

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).

“Being able to switch out lenses is a wonderful feature that gave us a tremendous amount of options when we were planning for multi-camera shoots during concert performances and wanted a range of different kinds of images.”

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