HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'
HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'
: Panasonic VariCam
: James Kelty
: HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'
A Creative COW Report On HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'
James Kelty & Associates, Cambria, California USA
©2004 by CreativeCow.net. All rights are reserved.
James Kelty has always considered himself more of a writer-director than an editor or cinematographer. But in today's ever-changing production world, like many independent producers working on project videos and/or documentaries, Jim is quickly becoming a skilled editor -- using a CinéWave system armed with Final Cut Pro. Recently, after a long career shooting film, he has begun using video in some of his projects. As part of this move, he attended HD Expo's "VariCamp" in Hollywood in January, 2004, where Jim began his exploration of High Definition using Panasonic's VariCam. Jim concludes that it offers new options to producer-directors and he found HD to have "the types of innovations that kept making me think hi-def is selling itself short through the constant comparisons to film, and that the technology is essentially creating new visual language and production capability all its own." Here is his report...
As a small project producer whos been on the bleeding edge of technological change so long my accountant refers to me as O Negative, it was with a heavy dose of skepticism that I arrived at HD Expo / Production Groups hi-def Varicamp in Hollywood in January, with my I-V cart in tow.
The Varicamp is a three-day hands on workshop where participants get to kick the tires on Panasonics DVCPro HD camera, nicknamed the Varicam because of the variable frame rate wizardry it places in the hands of the videographer.
No Rules, Just Tools
Panasonics goal in pushing variable frame rates was to achieve film-like motion effects (over cranking and under cranking in film speak), and the camera records from 4 frames to 60 frames per second. When used in conjunction with a digital field recording unit called an FRC or frame rate converter, the motion effects seemed to my eyes to go where no film camera has gone before. Picture the spinning spokes of a bicycle wheel where you dial in the precise speed and level of motion blur desired.
Panasonic also went after films legendary color richness and wide contrast latitudes through the creation of, and I quote the manual, an exclusive gamma curve for reproducing film tones by means of the CCDs. The modes to choose on the top menu level are Film Rec or Video Rec, corresponding to the basic intention of the program, dramatic film style or ENG video style. As for the specific menus choices, that was a mine field that I, a mere producer, will never enter, but I did grasp the essence of the revolution: personalized setups that can be copied to removable media, allowing cameras for multi-cam shoots to be prepped identically. Think of shooters on the same project, one in Greenland emailing his settings to the other in Sydney.
Another advantage to this technology, as opposed to film, is of course the instant gratification that all video enjoys. Essentially, scenes are lit and composed to the field monitor in a what you see is what youre going to get manner.
Choose Your Battles
These were the types of innovations that kept making me think hi-def is selling itself short through the constant comparisons to film, and that the technology is essentially creating new visual language and production capability all its own.
But it was a battle fought to the bitter end. On the final day of the workshop, campers attended sessions at the Post Group, where hi-def was thrown in the ring with 35mm in a 20-minute program produced several years ago, a contest apparently won by film in the areas of abililty to handle exposure latitudes and color depth.
The Bottom Line
The choice for hi-def over film, of course, isnt purely an aesthetic one. Its about money too. Clearly, hi-def is the choice if one looks at stock and developing costs. On the other hand, crew requirements for hi-def are not insignificant, set-up times also. And just try talking English to a DIT sometime (digital imaging technician). Shooting hi-def without one of these guys to pull it all together is like the Wizard of Oz with no wizard. Hey - he wasnt a real wizard though, come to think of it.
Still, just as I learned editing after years of working with the same editor who moved to another part of the world altogether, I found myself thinking that there were many areas where Panasonic's pre-sets and menu items would be useful to an independent producer like me but with the aid of a digital imaging technician the Panasonic VariCam can do many things that I've never done in all the years I've been using film.
For more info about HD Expo's VariCamp please visit: http://www.hdexpo.net/workshops/index.html
To learn more about Jim Keltys work or to contact him, visit www.keltyassoc.com
or email him directly at email@example.com.
Jim Kelty can also be found as a host in Creative Cow's Indie Film & Documentaries forum
James Kelty, a writer/producer in Cambria, California, does not consider himself a technical person. "He's a storyteller, someone very gifted in finding the essence of the humanity in the stories he communicates," says longtime friend and Creative Cow co-founder, Ron Lindeboom. "He also has a great eye for catching the shot and with these skills, he brings his stories to life. It's one of the reasons that he's been able to enlist the help of some rather big names in some of his productions." But when the editor with whom he had worked for years moved and began working in another city, Jim realized that he better learn some of the technical side if he wanted to stay competitive among clients aware of dropping technology prices. So, after landing on CinéWave with Final Cut Pro as his system of choice, he has begun exploring camera choices and the rapidly expanding world of High Definition video -- this after spending years in the world of film.
|Related Articles / Tutorials:|
The Panasonic AG-AC160
Panasonic has several camcorders with similar build, but different underlying core technologies -- specifically, the AC160/130 and the HPX250. The key difference between them, respectively, is 4:2:0 MP4 GOP at 1920x1080 resolution and AVCCAM recording as high at 21Mbps, versus 10-bit, 4:2:2 independent-frame, 1920 x 1080 resolution AVC-Intra 100 recording. For those who find AVCHD sufficient, but want a full-on camcorder solution without additional workarounds needed compared to more consumer cameras, the AC160 is meant to fit in your hand.
Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic
Panasonic's VariCam HD camera is one of the most popular HD units in use today, being used in major and independent films, commercials, corporate and music videos and many other projects. In this article, Creative Cow's Leo Ticheli discusses how the VariCam is used at his company, Leo Ticheli Productions (LTP). LTP bought VariCam back in 2001 and today uses the VariCam in projects that are developed at the two company offices located in Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia.Leo Ticheli, (host of Creative Cow's VariCam forum), discusses his purchase reasons, the image quality, the posting process and some of the projects that the VariCam has been used on. He gives his assessment of the camera, as well as the VariCam's aptness for a broad range of assignments.
Review, People / Interview
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
Business & Career Building
Go Creative Show: Build Your Filmmaking Career With YouTube
Discover how to advance your filmmaking and photography career on YouTube and Instagram in our interview with YouTuber and podcaster Tyler Stalman. Tyler and Go Creative Show host, Ben Consoli, discuss what it takes to stand out on YouTube, Tyler’s experience going from a stock photographer to freelance cinematographer, why it’s helpful to have a wide skillset of services, and much more!
Blackmagic Design Fusion
Building A Simple, Powerful Keyer in Blackmagic Design Fusion
Discover the basics of creating a powerful Color Difference Keyer in Blackmagic Design Fusion using some very simple tools. Longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell shows how, once you understand the basic principles, there are countless ways to apply them to a wide variety of shots you’re working on. It’s also just plain interesting to understand what’s going on when you key.
Adobe After Effects
After Effects Advanced Content-Aware Fill With Photoshop
In part three of his series on Adobe After Effects Content Aware Fill, filmmaker and After Effects artist Cody Pyper takes his deepest dive yet! Following requests from viewers in the series so far, Cody takes a closer look at how Adobe Photoshop can help you remove unwanted objects from your video footage in After Effects.
Blackmagic Design Fusion
Blackmagic Design Fusion: World Coordinates for 3D Compositing
Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for a look at the useful things you can do in Blackmagic Design Fusion with world coordinates data using the Volume Mask tool. It offers very handy way of applying 2D processing to 3D scenes generated either within Fusion or rendered from your favourite 3D application.
DaVinci Resolve Optical Flow
Join filmmaker and After Effects artist Cody Pyper for a closer look at DaVinci Resolve's Optical Flow to create exceptionally smooth slow motion, even on footage shot at normal frame rates. Cody covers the basics of how to use the effect, and shows some practical applications of Optical Flow for a variety of editorial troubleshooting.
Adobe After Effects
Best Results with After Effects Content-Aware Fill: Reference Frames
Join filmmaker and After Effects artist Cody Pyper for a deep dive into how to get the absolute best results using the Content-Aware Fill tool in After Effects. Locked-down shots with simple backgrounds are one thing, but Cody shows the details of how to get fantastic results with complicated backgrounds and a moving camera using reference frames.
Apple Motion 5: Stylized Liquid Title Tutorial
Tapping into one of the year's hottest design trends, as well as Apple Motion 5's most sophisticated creative tools, longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell has done it again: putting together a tutorial that's fast, fun, eye-opening, and immediately practical. Taking advantage of Motion's Clouds generators to create both foreground elements and masks, and the quick combination of three filters from the Stylize category, you're going to be amazed by speed and elegance of this effect when applied to a title graphic: fresh, clean, and ready for easy customizing.
Apple Final Cut Pro X
Apple Motion 5: Awesome Glass Title Effect for FCPX
"Create this frosted glass title effect for use in FCP X and amaze your friends," says longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell. "Nothing hugely fancy but a set of standard tricks you should find useful." Along the way, you'll work with clones, grouping, blurs, masking, levels, rigs, the Cellular generator, Glass Distortion, and the Extrude filter, along the typical plethora of Apple Motion workflow tweaks to provide maximum finesse with minimal effort. From there, you'll see how to add the title effect to FCPX, where you can customize and reuse to your heart's content.