How the AJA Ki Pro Took Repossessed Tapeless
Switching from DVCPRO HD to Direct-to-Edit File Formats on a Demanding National Geographic Channel Reality Series
Bradley Levin: This was one of the most challenging shoots I’ve been a part of. We shot 42 days through one of the worst winters recorded in the tri-state area in a very long time. We mainly shoot on the [Panasonic] AJ-HDX900 for và©rità© and actuality, but we rely heavily on our AJA car rig system that my DP, Tony Rossi, built. Our shooting set-up consists of two HDX900 cameras shooting out a 15-passenger van that is following our subjects, capturing all the action that takes place outside our picture car. This season, we chose the Iconix lipstick cameras to outfit our picture car and complement the AJA Ki Pro’s amazing solid-state recording. We rig our picture car to capture all và©rità©/story. Because of the nature of the show, things change every minute so we need to be prepared to adapt. The AJA Ki Pro system made our jobs easier – 100 percent.
We have a very quick turnaround. We have eight weeks total to shoot, and we were very worried about the ingestion period. In past seasons, we lost a lot of time due to the fact that we were recording to DVCPRO HD tapes that would record only 33 minutes. This year, with the AJA Ki Pro, we were able to eliminate that entire ingestion/digitization period. All we had to do was eject the SSDs from the Ki Pro and FireWire them straight into our Terrablock. Genius! Effective, and a total budget-saver.
Were there other factors that led to your decision to go with the Ki Pro?
Ease of use, versatility, and the way it handled the expectations of capturing every moment in its perfection.
Why did you choose to use SSD instead of the standard HDD?
Because 90 percent of our filming was done in a vehicle, we chose the SSD for stability and durability. We needed filming to be perfect 100 percent of the time, and the Ki Pro delivered.
What was the biggest stress test for your gear during the shoot?
We were always on the move. Besides [the equipment] taking a beating from the 42 shoot days, there weren’t that many moving parts, and that was a great thing. We were able to get our set-up down pat, and we could be ready to go in less than 25 minutes. Filming in a tow truck with a not-so-great suspension caused us a bit of worry in the beginning, but when the AJA system proved itself in the field, we were able to really maximize our shooting days. It was an unbelievable workflow.
Is there anything else you wished the Ki Pro could do? What would you like to see added to a next-generation version of the product?
At the moment, I can’t think of anything the Ki Pro can’t do. It definitely can’t make me breakfast in the morning, but it sure as hell can do just about everything else.
Six new one-hour episodes of Repossessed air on the National Geographic Channel this summer.