Emmy award winner Michael Letzring uses the AG-AF100 to Count Sheep in Alaska

Michael Letzring carefully positions his AG-AF100 large imager HD cinema camcorder as he stands alongside the rugged edge of an Alaskan cliff hoping to capture some footage of the reclusive Dall sheep scattered amongst the cliffs in the mountain terrain.

The long-time Alaskan was hired by the National Park Service Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve to shoot videos  of the Alaskan wilderness for online distribution. Michael has used Panasonic’s AG-AF100 to capture these iconic images of America’s last frontier.

“When shooting images of wild animals like dall sheep you don’t get a whole lot of time to set up the shot,” Michael said.  “We used the AF100 in diverse, unpredictable circumstances and got some stunning shots.”

The project is to be hosted exclusively on the web and Michael is very happy about the image quality of the AF100 footage online.
During his time working for the National Park Service in Alaska, Michael was contacted by the Arctic Network Inventory and Monitoring Program (ARCN) for a more complicated project, a video series chronicling the organization’s efforts to track and monitor the population of Dall sheep.  Counting Sheep in Alaska highlights the challenges associated with studying these real-world cliff hangers of the alpine mountains. Documenting this species is vital to monitoring the health of the region as Dall sheep can serve as an indicator of large-scale change to mountain ecosystems.

“It’s a challenge to get close up footage of these animals; the mature males can be particularly difficult.”Michael said.

Michael’s career began in still photography, but after graduating from the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara California, he decided to pursue a film career in Vancouver Canada.

He returned to Alaska in the 90s to work for a PBS affiliate in Anchorage (KAKM) and then another PBS Affiliate in Fairbanks (KUAC).  There he won 2 Northwest Emmys for The 49th Star: Creating Alaska  and produced many acclaimed projects such as Mr. Alaska:  Bob Bartlett Goes to Washington.

In 2009, he began work as a visual media specialist for the National Parks Service.

For his current project Michael needed a camera that could withstand harsh conditions, such as below freezing temperature, yet also perform in an interview-style setting. Michael has been most impressed with the AF100, especially the adjustable camera set-up options and the professional audio features, as well as the camera’s variable frame rates.

“I often shoot at 48 frames per second when capturing wildlife and I always have the option of making it real time in post if I want to,” Michael said.

Michael typically records to the camcorder’s SDHC card when working in the field and edits the Panasonic AVCHD material directly in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 His next project is a new production for the National Park Service examining melting permafrost in the Arctic.

The AF100 has proved to be a very useful camera for Michael’s current projects and he is excited to see what Panasonic comes up with next. He believes the AF100 a full-on solution for the kind of work he’s doing in remote Alaskan locations.

“By introducing cameras like the AF100, Panasonic is really demonstrating a commitment to all levels of digital production,” Michael said. “Only a few years ago a camera with this kind of capability would be beyond the reach of many filmmakers, and that this is the kind of camera that a filmmaker can grow with.”

Panasonic is currently accepting entries for the “Shoot it, Share it” video contest for AF100 users. For complete contest rules and to learn more about the “Shoot It, Share It” video contest, visit www.ShootItShareIt.com.