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Panasonic VariCam HD Cameras Chosen For ?MissingDP cites increased scene coverage, faster-paced show (October 07, 2004)
Panasonics AJ-HDC27 VariCam HD Cinema cameras were chosen over film to shoot the second season of Lifetime Televisions highly-rated cable drama ?Missing (Saturdays, 10:00 p.m. ET/PT).
Produced by Lions Gate Television Corp. in association with CHUM Television, the series stars Viveca A. Fox (?Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, ?Ella Enchanted), who also serves as co-producer. In each episode, ?Missing profiles a missing person case that is being investigated by FBI Special Agent Nicole Scott (Fox) and her partner Special Agent Jess Mastriani (Caterina Scorsone).
According to Director of Photography David Herrington, earlier this year the producers asked him to research HD camera options (the first season was shot with Panavision 3-perf cameras in a Super 35mm format).
?I had already shot with Sony cameras and wanted to see a comparison between 1080i and 720p formats to see if there were any real differences, and what the differences might entail, Herrington recounted. ?At an HD seminar, I was very impressed by a film clip--initially shot on VariCam. It was this clip alone that sold me on the idea of shooting the entire show on HD with the Panasonic camera. With the VariCam on board, I wouldnt have to carry a high-speed film camera on the truck, which would have increased the productions camera budget.
Panasonics AJ-HDC27 VariCam replicates many of the key features of film-based image acquisition, including 24-frame progressive scan images, time lapse recording, and a wide range of variable frame rates (4-fps to 60-fps in single-frame increments) for ?overcranked and ?undercranked off-speed in-camera effects. The AJ-HDC27 VariCam also features CineGamma software that permits Panasonics HD Cinema camera systems to more closely match the latitude of film stocks.
The DP, whose varied background includes feature films, television movies, and mini-series as well as extensive commercial work, continued, ?We are currently shooting with two VariCams for most of the seven-day episodes, and our second unit shoots with its own VariCam. My crew had never worked with Panasonic cameras before, so there was a learning curve to start with, but as the days of prep progressed we all became impressed with what new technologies film techs could learn! I myself became more immersed in how I would have to approach lighting HD, and whether or not I would be able to adapt my film style to this technology. At the start, what interested me the most was that I could use three different gamma curves for capturing images. I decided to use the film gamma curve that allowed me to make all the scene-to-scene corrections at my tape-to-tape sessions. Using the Film Record Gamma Curve also allows almost a full tonal range, which is then sweetened during the post process.
Herrington added, ?Whenever possible, I like to shoot at -3dB gain?this brings down the effective ASA of the CCD to 400. Because HD has so much depth of field I also liked the idea of shooting with as wide an aperture as possible; therefore, I had Harrison and Harrison filters made in Neutral Densities of 1.2, 1.5 and 1.8.
Regarding off-speed shooting, Herrington said, ?There isnt a week that goes by that we dont use either the high-speed or low-speed method to add punch to the show. Ive particularly enjoyed explaining to directors that we do not have a high-speed camera with our package, and watch their faces as I explain that the VariCam is able to capture an image at up to 60-fps.
He concluded, ?The final proof that VariCam was right for the show is that we now have a highly-rated show on cable that many people dont know is shot with an HD camera (vs. film). Our coverage for scenes is greater than it was last year, and with the knowledge and help of a terrific camera, lighting and grip team, we have created a faster-paced show. When one considers that the final result of any image captured for television is shown on video tape, it makes economic sense for many shows to be shot using HD technology. And the more we learn about the process and equipment, the better the results become.
For more information on Panasonics complete HD Cinema product lineup, visit www.panasonic.com/hdworld.
About Panasonic Broadcast
Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast, professional video and presentation products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a unit company of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, the principal North America subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC), one of the world's leading producers of electronic and electric products for consumer, business and industrial use.
For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the companys web site at www.panasonic.com/broadcast.
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