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Overview

Building on the esteemed VariCam® legacy of breathtaking image rendition and versatile off-speed effects, Panasonic offers two VariCams, one a 4K camera (VariCam 35) that incorporates a newly developed super 35mm MOS image sensor; the second, a 2/3-inch camera (VariCam HS) that features high-speed 1080p image capture of up to 240fps to produce extraordinary high-definition imagery for the most demanding documentary, sports or SFX slow-motion applications.

Their next-generation modular two-piece design will deliver unprecedented flexibility, allowing you to move between the worlds of cinema, TV episodic, sports, documentary and other content creation with extraordinary ease and efficiencies.

VariCam 35 Key Features:

  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) Ready
  • S35MM 4096 X 2160 Advanced MOS Imager
  • Native ISOs of 800 and 5000
  • 14+ Stops of Latitude
  • Variable Frame Rate — 1 to 120 fps in 4K
  • Dual Recorder
  • Records simultaneous 4K/ 2K/Proxy, or UHD/HD/Proxy + Raw to Codex (option)
  • Apple ProRes 4:4:4:4 and ProRes HQ Built-in
  • AVC-Intra Codecs — Class 100 / Class 200 / Class 4:4:4
  • 2-piece Modular Design (docks to AU-VREC1G recording module)
  • Codex V-Raw Recorder now available for uncompressed full-frame RAW recording at 120fps

VariCam HS Key Features:

  • Newly developed 1920 x 1080p 3MOS imagers
  • 240fps Variable Frame Rate Recording — 1 fps to 240 fps
  • Dual Recorder
  • 14 Stops of Latitude
  • Apple ProRes 4:4:4:4 and ProRes HQ Built-in
  • 2/3-inch B4 bayonet mount
  • High-quality recording formats including AVC-Intra Class100 (recording at 1080/24p, 30p or 60p format with Variable Frame Rates (up to 240p), AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 30p/60i) and AVC-Intra Class 4:4:4 (up to 30p)

Learn what rental facilities are renting the VariCam 35 camera.

VariCam 35 Q&A with DP Mark Doering-Powell

(L to R): Ian Dodd, Camera Operator; Mark Doering-Powell, DP;
Robert Schierer, A-Cam 1st Asstistant

Director of Photography Mark Doering-Powell ASC recently shot an upcoming Amazon Studios' series, Just Add Magic (JAM), with three VariCam 35 4K camera/recorders. The series' 13 half-hour episodes are slated to premiere later this year.

Veteran DP Doering-Powell was nominated for two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Cinematography for his work on Everybody Hates Chris, and numbers Hindsight, How to Live with Your Parents, Glory Daze, 10 Things I Hate About You and Even Stevens among his extensive television credits.

Mark took the time to answer our questions about his shooting with the VariCam 35.

Q: Why were you interested in using the VariCam 35 for the series?

The VariCam 35's native 4K acquisition and 4k delivery played heavily into our decision, as well as the need for a natural color palette and skins tones, and ease of workflow.

Q: How many cameras did you have on location?

We rented three VariCam 35s from SIM Digital, and the series was on a two episodes per nine-day schedule. We typically used two of the cameras on dollies for traditional coverage, though we shot with the three cameras on a handful of set-ups. The main VariCam 35s had their own long and short zooms, two Fuji Alura 18-80mm Zooms, two Angenieux 12:1 24-290mm Zooms, a 19-90 Cabrio Zoom and a set of Cooke S4 Primes. The third VariCam 35 was mainly used for Steadicam work with S4 primes or Cabrio. We shot the series in 12-bit 4:4:4 AVC-Intra UHD.

Q: Did you ever shoot handheld?

We used the camera handheld on a couple of scenes, such as an iPad POV camera in selfie mode, and a flashback set in a drycreek bed, too rugged to get dollies in there on our schedule. Our camera operators Joel Schwartz and Sarah Levy did fantastic handheld work that didn't bump us out of our more traditional dolly-based operation. Also, we shot with a LensBaby mounted on the Steadicam for a dreamy flashback POV.

Q: Did you take advantage of the VariCam 35's dual native 800/5000 ISOs?

We worked mostly at 500-800 ISO, but did two scenes at 5000, both dark, moonlit scenes in the attic, one of which we lit with smart phones.

Q: In your experience, what was most distinctive about the VariCam 35?

Its crisp image, natural color palette and dynamic range. Its selectable LUT capabilities, the ability to assign various LUTs to individual recording channels and camera outputs. During our pre-production evals, Andy Lichtstein was our Final Colorist at Chainsaw and he made our LUTs on his Baselight. I did two tests, each time refining our LUTs to make the camera as natural and gentle as possible. In the end, we used one LUT about 95% of the time, designed to be as filmic as possible and give me a very natural look across a range of skin tones. Also, the LUTs were devised to emulate the most filmic look on sunny day/exteriors, the most contrast we faced.

Q: Any other features that you found useful?

The VariCam 35's EVF is the best I've ever seen, with a fantastic large ocular opening that doesn't lose the image if your eye goes off axis a bit. The Optical Magnifier and focus work great. Also, we did lots of slo-mo--48fps, 60, 72 and on rare occasions 120 fps; all codecs worked very well.

Q: How is post being handled?

The production is posting and coloring from the UHD camera original. The files go all the way to final color on Chainsaw's Baselight, with our custom LUT available to overlay, and all layers available to us if there's VFX. (Bling Digital handled dailies. Chainsaw and Bling Digital are both part of the SIM Group family of companies.)

For more information about Doering-Powell, visit www.markdoeringpowell.com.

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