LIBRARY: Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic

COW Library : Panasonic VariCam : Leo Ticheli : Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic
Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic
A Creative COW Production Report

Leo Ticheli, Leo Ticheli Productions, Offices: Birmingham, Alabama and Atlanta, Georgia USA

©2003 Matsushita Electric Corporation of America. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
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.


Introduction:
LTP purchased the Panasonic VariCam in summer 2001 for projects ranging from television commercials for large advertising agencies to programs for major corporations. LTP is a vertically-integrated company that oversees a project from conception through distribution; its range of services includes TV commercials, long-form sponsored videos, web hosting, DVD and CD-ROM production, and the creation of MPEG material for web distribution.

LTP has used its VariCam for a wide range of projects, including commercial shoots for D’Arcy Martin (client Pontiac), Bressler Advertising (clients DeTar Healthcare System, Woodland Heights Medical Center), Max Productions (client, Coliseum Health Systems), Auburn University, Great SouthernWood and Express Oil Change; recruitment pieces for the University of Alabama; and corporate videos for Bell South, Blue Cross of Alabama, Synovus Financial Corporation, and Employment Learning Innovations. Previously, LTP was shooting predominantly in digital Betacam and 35 mm film.



Take us back to your original decision to purchase the VariCam.

Leo Ticheli: I carefully researched the merits of the AJ-HDC27 vs. competitive models. The investment required for the competition was daunting, and when we looked at the pictures side-by-side -- on HD monitors, then downconverted to 601 -- the Panasonic images were far superior. The variable-frame-rate capability made it a “must-have” item -- and, incidentally, virtually every job we’ve done with the camera has involved off-speed shooting. In my opinion, the VariCam replaces a film camera in every conceivable situation, other than shooting at higher than 60-fps.


Can you comment on the camera’s image quality?

Leo Ticheli: The progressive scan is very important. The VariCam produces no-compromise images that don’t look like 1080i--which to me looks like nice video, but video nonetheless. When knowledgeable people look at the monitor in our edit suite, invariably they say, “It’s film.” One could argue endlessly about the “HD vs. the film vs. the video look,” but as far as I’m concerned, HD shot at 24p looks like film.


What version of the VariCam do you use?

Leo Ticheli: As soon as they were available, I retrofitted the camera with the additional frames rates and new CineGamma capabilities. I think the CineGamma is an essential, highly significant change to the look and flexibility of the camera, allowing it to more closely match the latitude of film stocks. And the enhancements demonstrate the level of continuing support Panasonic is offering VariCam users, which has been very impressive.


How has the camera performed on commercial shoots?

Leo Ticheli: Well, we haven’t lacked for physical challenges. The 30-second Pontiac spot, which ran regionally, was shot from an all-terrain vehicle outfitted with platforms. The location was Daytona Beach--during biker week. The 30-second spot for Auburn University, airing nationally during football season, profiles the university’s state-of-the-art Asphalt Test Facility. We shot car-to-car, and aerially. We’ve been able to put the camera anywhere--on a Steadicam, in tight spots in cars and boats, on jibs and helicopters. We’ve had zero problems with mountability.


What’s different about shooting HD?

Leo Ticheli: On a shoot, we’re typically requiring fewer foot-candles, and rating the equivalent of about 500 ASA with no grain. We’re doing more set-ups in a day, using less air-conditioning, less electricity, and it’s an easier job for the crew.


Typically, how do you post VariCam footage?

Leo Ticheli: We output to 601 from a DVCPRO HD VTR (we us both AJ-HD150 studio editing and AJ-HD130DC portable, half-rack size VTRs) and master to Digital Betacam™. In addition to Final Cut Pro, Discreet Smoke, and a linear suite, we have a mobile online suite, equipped with Final Cut Pro, Combustion, After Effects and AJA Kona. And we have another AJA Kona room where we handle DVDs and video-for-web. Overall in post, special effects and mattes are much easier with VariCam-originated footage than with material originated on film or inferior video formats.


How do you distribute video?

Leo Ticheli: We distribute most commercial spots via telestream, which means the video is compressed to MPEG4 and transmitted at a high data rate. The image quality looks much better than a DVD movie, and it stays digital all the way.


What impact has the VariCam had on your company?

Leo Ticheli: On the business side, we’ve been incredibly more competitive. We’re able to offer a cinema look at a price so low that clients are putting upwards of 25% of their budgets back into sets, aerial shots, extra actors, additional shooting days, etc. (My rule of thumb is that a project that would cost $80,000 with 35mm costs $60,000 with VariCam.) What I’m seeing is that, rather than reducing budgets, clients are taking the money they’re saving vs. a film shoot, “re-investing” it in the job and getting a lot more up on the screen. I’m often asked why I’m shooting in HD today when my ultimate product is still 525i. Obviously, I’m archiving a 16:9, HD master for my clients. But I’m also saving between $5000 - $10,000 per shoot day, savings that you ultimately see up on the screen.

As a director/cinematographer, I’ve been overjoyed with the VariCam. Every job has that beautiful cinema look, and I’m able to get the same off-speed effects as with film cameras. And I really appreciate being able to immediately see what I’m getting on an HD monitor. I discourage our clients from shooting any other format but VariCam. The camera delivers the highest quality image--on a par with 35mm--to clients who could never have afforded film.

Next up for the VariCam at LTP, a series of four commercials for the tourism agency of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

###


Leo Ticheli is a host in CreativeCow.net's VariCam forum, AJA Kona and High Definition forums

For more information or specs regarding the VariCam, visit Panasonic's VariCam homepage.



Reprinted with kind permission of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America.




If you are viewing this page by a direct link, please visit the CreativeCow.net
for more great articles and the best forums on the Net.




Related Articles / Tutorials:
Panasonic VariCam
The Panasonic AG-AC160

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.

Review
Anthony Burokas
Panasonic VariCam
HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'

HD Expo's Panasonic VariCam 'VariCamp'

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...

Review
James Kelty
Recent Articles / Tutorials:
TV & Movie Appreciation
Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos, Titan, and Weta Digital

Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos, Titan, and Weta Digital

At the center of one of the biggest films in history, Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War, stands Thanos, a CG character whose emotional range became a major contribution to the film's success. Creative COW Contributing Editor Hillary Lewis spoke with Weta Digital VFX Supervisor Matt Aitken about the challenges of their work on this remarkably compelling character and his world.

Feature, People / Interview
Hillary Lewis
AJA Video Systems
AJA Video Systems Celebrates 25 Years of Professional Video Systems

AJA Video Systems Celebrates 25 Years of Professional Video Systems

John Abt started AJA Video Systems with his wife Darlene in 1993 to develop simple digital parallel to serial and serial to parallel converters. Many of AJA’s products at their core continue to bridge connectivity and simplify pro video workflows through video up, down, cross format conversion. A great read that you will find at Film and Digital Times.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview, Business
Film and Digital Times
TV & Movie Appreciation
VFX Legion Completes Effects for SUPERFLY Remake

VFX Legion Completes Effects for SUPERFLY Remake

Producer Joel Silver and Director X called on VFX Legion to tackle 100+ shots designed to amp up the impact of the raw violence in Sony’s reboot of the iconic ‘70’s film. The reboot of ‘Superfly’ puts a modern, stylish spin on the original 1972 film about a Harlem drug dealer trying to score one last deal before getting out of ‘the game.’ Set in present-day Atlanta, the Mecca of today’s popping music scene, the action is driven by a hip-hop soundtrack curated by Future. The city’s distinctive style is the backdrop for a new generation of affluent, extravagant drug kingpins that takes violence to the extreme.

Editorial, Feature, Project
VFX Legion
VR Filmwork: Immersive Begins to Emerge ... Slowly

VR Filmwork: Immersive Begins to Emerge ... Slowly

Want to see a storage person's heart skip a beat ... or two? Flutter even? Just mention VR and BAM!, they get real excited. Some people think we like 360/VR just because it devours so much storage capacity. Ok that's a good reason but still the good VR stuff is really really good. Not just scare your pants off good but good to experience, enjoy, be immersively entertained, informed.

Editorial, Feature
Andy Marken
Christina Rzewucki: Thor: Ragnarok, Tomb Raider & more

Christina Rzewucki: Thor: Ragnarok, Tomb Raider & more

Christina Rzewucki is a Texture and Look Development Artist at Rising Sun Pictures. A 2016 graduate of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Adelaide, she began her career with the game company Monkeystack. Since joining RSP in 2017, she has applied her diverse technical and creative skills to projects including the blockbusters Thor: Ragnarok and Tomb Raider. Next month, she will be teaching the texturing component of ‘Look Development and Lighting,’ a new second year elective course associated with UniSA’s Media Arts degree.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Risingsun Pictures
Cinematography
RBG's DP: Claudia Raschke, Ruth Ginsburg & Canon C300 Mk II

RBG's DP: Claudia Raschke, Ruth Ginsburg & Canon C300 Mk II

In his conversation with Claudia Raschke, the cinematographer of the acclaimed documentary "RBG" featuring Supreme Court Justice and folk hero Ruth Bader Ginsburg, DP Jimmy Matlosz speaks to her about the Canon C300, the challenges of shooting such a high-profile subject, and the influence of dance on her approach to documentary filmmaking. A truly remarkable conversation about multiple remarkable subjects.

Feature, People / Interview
Jimmy Matlosz
Business & Marketing
Media after Millennials: A Teen’s Research on Viewing Habits

Media after Millennials: A Teen’s Research on Viewing Habits

As a fifteen year old high school sophomore, Helen Ludé has her priorities in order: varsity soccer, Snapchat and Instagram, and presenting research on Post-Millennial Media and Cinema Consumption Habits at SMPTE’s Future of Cinema Conference. Spurred on by a dinner conversation with her family (including her father, RealD’s Peter Ludé), Helen conducted a survey of her peers to uncover the viewing habits of her generation, otherwise known as Gen Z. You're going to be surprised by what she found, and deeply impressed (and a little intimidated) by this enterprising young woman.

Feature, People / Interview
Kylee Peña
TV & Movie Appreciation
Star Wars: How Much Is Too Much?

Star Wars: How Much Is Too Much?

When Disney announced that they would be making a new Star Wars movie every year for at least 10 years I was both excited and a bit skeptical. In 2012 when Lucas sold his company to Disney for $4billion, he included his outlines of Episodes VII, VIII and IX. But Disney and Co. decided to discard these stories and start over, also discarding the extended universe of comics and books that millions of SW fans had grown to love. Adding JJ Abrams to the mix was icing on the cake for SW fans who have become critical of SW. But Lawrence Kasdan was the saving grace, who wrote a script for VII that the original actors could get behind. So, how much Star Wars is too much?

Review, Editorial, Feature
Mike Cohen
MORE
© 2018 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]