The makers of a new high definition ob-doc for Five and National Geographic are hoping that tapeless camera technology will help them successfully complete 16 weeks filming and editing on a Royal Navy ship bound for the Antarctic.

Ice Patrol, a 6 x 60-minute series being made by Spiderlight Films, will follow HMS Endurance on her six-month deployment to Antarctica, capturing life on board and missions throughout the British Antarctic Territory, the Falkland Islands and the South Atlantic.

While dealing with temperatures that will drop to minus 20 degrees, the confines of the boat and a tight turnaround time, the production team will use a solid-state Sony PDW700 camcorder and two compact Sony EX-3s hired from Procam to shoot footage and a laptop running Avid Media Composer to do initial programme edits.

Producer/director Martin Kemp suggested that using tape-based technology was never really an option. “Using a disc based system allows us to build our edit suite around a laptop and a couple of two terrabyte hard drives with a blu-ray burner as back up,” he said.

“We can then use the PDW700 as a play in machine, and not worry about taking an HD deck with us or storing a large number of bulky tapes.”

Kemp and his team will import proxy data for editing, logging and reviewing rushes, and burn footage to blu-ray discs that can be sent back to the UK.

“Because we will have copies of the media in both the UK and on board ship we will be able to email EDL's back and forth to follow the progress of cuts even though we are on opposite sides of the world,” he explained.

The sub-zero temperatures could play havoc with the equipment but Kemp maintains that all will be well. “Being Antarctica there is always the possibility that a camera might have problems,” he said.

“Hopefully the fact that the PDW700 has less moving parts will make it less susceptible to break down.”

“And the longer recording capacity of the dual layer discs over tape means, that in temperatures of -20 degrees centigrade or lower the DoP, Steve Gray, does not have to take his clothes off quite so often to change tape!”

Assistant editor Jonathan Stirling is also making the trip. He will manage the workflow and do preliminary programme edits which will then be e-mailed back to the UK as EDL (edit decision lists).

The decision to use Procam was made based on its product knowledge. “We had a choice of hire company's and from first contact Procam proved to be the most helpful in answering the many questions we had about the tapeless format. That inspired confidence and was the reason why we chose to place our hire order, including sound equipment, with the company.”

Spiderlight Films was formed in 2008 by Kemp and Rosie Kingham and aims to offer high-end specialist factual documentaries for TV and emerging platforms. Ice Patrol is their first commission