Panasonic VariCam 35 Chosen for New UK TV Drama Series Set For The Fall & Used to Shoot Amazon Studios Pilot

Ever since we saw the Panasonci Varicam 35 and HS at NAB 2014, all of us here at Visual Impact we impressed by the versatility, robust design and legendary Varicam image quality exhibited by the flagship Panasonic 4K large sensor camera.

The modular design, dual ISO's and a multitiude of flexible internal and external recording options, make the Panasonic Varicam 35 an excellent choice for narrative drama, episodic and cinema destined work.

We fully believe in the capability of the Varicam system to delivery exceptionional benefits in both image quality and improved workflow efficiency to field productions, that we went ahead and ordered six of the modular 4K cameras, with four sold to leading rental company 24-7 Drama and the remaining two available for immediate supply.

This is a great 4K camera from Panasonic and offers our customers a true alternative to the current large sensor cameras we stock,“ said Tim Sparrock Director of Visual Impact.

The units bound for 24-7 Drama will be used on a major new TV drama which will be screened in the autumn. The specific look and 4K workflow of the VariCam 35 made it an ideal choice for this drama.

We worked very closely with Panasonic to ensure the client achieved the results they were looking for,” said Graham Hawkins MD of 24-7 Drama, “along with the cameras we will be supplying a large range of lenses and ARRIFLEX accessories.”

Panasonic UK Group Manager, Nigel Wilkes, said, “This is a really significant deal for Panasonic in the UK. It’s no surprise that the first major production win has come in drama. The dual native ISO makes the VariCam 35 perfect for the genre and it opens up shots and locations previously unobtainable.”

Most productions are aware that post-production starts on the film set during shooting. The fact that the VariCam allows you to record simultaneously in multiple formats and start initialising the image look in-camera can make the post production process significantly easier.”

In the US, Award-winning cinematographer Theo Van de Sande, ASC recently completed his second pilot, CBS’s Evil Men, shot with Panasonic’s new VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder. He used the Panasonic VariCam 35 on a previous project, called Salem Rogers, which he >shot for Amazon Studios, and is currently available on Amazon Instant TV:

Van de Sande calls the VariCam 35 “the first 4K offering I feel comfortable with, an absolutely modern camera with tremendous scope, an embracing image, and whose dual native ISOs of 800/5000 will completely change the business.”

Van de Sande had been prepared to shoot the Salem Rogers pilot with an Alexa, but Amazon Studios stipulated a native 4K camera. Within days after signing on to the project, he saw a demonstration of the VariCam 35 at the ASC Clubhouse and literally “saw the (low) light.”

I simply didn’t believe it when I switched for the first time from ISO 800 to native ISO 5000,” he said. “How could this be accomplished without sacrificing dynamic range and imagery? I came to learn that at ISO 5000 the camera can actually see more and better than the human eye, and allowed me to create a whole micro world in front of the camera. What’s more, with the VariCam 35 I can ramp from 24 to 120fps without changing the light, a tremendous economy of time and money.”

From the first day on the Salem Rogers’ set I began to use the native 5000 ISO on some unexpected occasions (a day interior in a bookstore, e.g.) and was blown away by it,” Van de Sande said. 

The last scene was shot at nighttime at Venice Beach with very little light. Shops were closed, but the arches of the buildings were still overexposed, lit by some small fixtures. The palm trees were silhouetted against the night sky, and I lit a huge area with just one unit from 100 yards away. The bottoms of the palm trees were lit with the headlights of our camera truck.

Later in the CBS pilot I used 5000 ISO setting by night in cold, humid, wet Vancouver winter weather on overpasses, freeways, intersections and bridges with even more amazing results. And here again there were no issues: all went well on a grueling, impossible schedule of 12+ days.”

Van de Sande also singled out the VariCam 35’s ability to record three simultaneous video formats (4K + 2K + Proxy, or UHD + HD + Proxy). “You treat the 4K slot as if it were the digital negative--you don’t touch that data. You have the SUB recorder slots where you can do all your work: 2K/HD is plenty of resolution for editors who normally work on highly compressed DNxHD36 images. So, you’re recording to a high-res master and you are essentially cloning copies in different resolutions in camera, in real time.”

With the VariCam 35, its 4K sensor and native 5000 ISO setting, Panasonic has taken a front position in the line of professional digital cinema cameras,” he said. “And the company’s timing in bringing the Varicam 35 into the digital cinema and episodic television markets is the absolute right moment within the big picture of 4K and UHD standardization.

It’s been a total thrill to be at the cutting edge of this new technology; the VariCam 35 will push the other camera manufacturers forward, because soon the 4K pipeline will be the standard for TV and digital cinema. 4K will be the format that people request when they buy content in the very near future. And now, digital camera technology has finally realized the high standard of the 35mm film negative.”

To learn more about the Panasonic Varicam 35 and HS, head over to our Varicam page and call our Varicam specialists at 0208 977 1222 to place your order. We currently have two cameras in stock, and they will go very fast.