Panasonic Aims to Muscle 4K VariCam 35 Into Feature and TV Space

Hollywood Sign - H 2014
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Hollywood Sign - H 2014

Last fall, Panasonic unleashed the VariCam 35, a 4K “Ultra HD” capable version of its VariCam digital cinematography camera, with an eye toward muscling into high-end filmmaking and episodic series work. Expect to see it featured at Panasonic’s booth next month at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.

At the show, VariCam 35 news will join anticipated new technology announcements from camera makers including Canon and Red, as well as the latest update to ARRI's high-end market leading Alexa camera.

While still relatively new, the VariCam 35 has earned an early fan in director of photography Theo van de Sande, who already is on his third project, CW's Cheerleader Death Squad, with the camera. Earlier, he used the camera for Salem Rogers, shot for Amazon Studios and currently available on Amazon Instant TV, and more recently, for the pilot of CBS' Evil Men.

When Van de Sande — who was nominated for a 2015 American Society of Cinematographers Award for his work on Deliverance Creek — boarded Salem Rogers, Amazon Studios wanted to use a native 4K camera. The cinematographer said he chose the VariCam 35 primarily for the way in which it handles low light, which for Salem Rogers involved shooting night scenes at Venice Beach.

For Evil Men this again proved useful, as Van de Sande used the camera’s 5000 ISO setting on location during the winter in Vancouver.

The cinematographer also took advantage of the VariCam 35’s ability to record three simultaneous video formats, aimed at reducing the need for transcoding. “I used 4K as the digital negative, and 2K would normally go to editorial,” he explained.

Van de Sande next chose to photograph Cheerleader Death Squad with the camera in 4K resolution. That production is also using the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ ACES (Academy Color Encoding Specification), which was recently released and is aimed at helping filmmakers maintain an intended look from the set through postproduction and archiving.

Twitter: @CGinLA