Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic
Leo Ticheli discusses the HD VariCam from Panasonic
: Panasonic VariCam
: Leo Ticheli
: 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.
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 VariCams aptness for a broad range of assignments.
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 DArcy 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 weve 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 cameras image quality?
Leo Ticheli: The progressive scan is very important. The VariCam produces no-compromise images that dont 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, Its film. One could argue endlessly about the HD vs. the film vs. the video look, but as far as Im 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 havent 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 universitys state-of-the-art Asphalt Test Facility. We shot car-to-car, and aerially. Weve been able to put the camera anywhere--on a Steadicam, in tight spots in cars and boats, on jibs and helicopters. Weve had zero problems with mountability.
Whats different about shooting HD?
Leo Ticheli: On a shoot, were typically requiring fewer foot-candles, and rating the equivalent of about 500 ASA with no grain. Were doing more set-ups in a day, using less air-conditioning, less electricity, and its 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, weve been incredibly more competitive. Were 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 Im seeing is that, rather than reducing budgets, clients are taking the money theyre saving vs. a film shoot, re-investing it in the job and getting a lot more up on the screen. Im often asked why Im shooting in HD today when my ultimate product is still 525i. Obviously, Im archiving a 16:9, HD master for my clients. But Im also saving between $5000 - $10,000 per shoot day, savings that you ultimately see up on the screen.
As a director/cinematographer, Ive been overjoyed with the VariCam. Every job has that beautiful cinema look, and Im able to get the same off-speed effects as with film cameras. And I really appreciate being able to immediately see what Im 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:|
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.
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 CinÃƒÂ©Wave 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...
|Recent Articles / Tutorials:|
Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro: Edit Faster with Overlay Editing
Editor, VFX artist, post-house owner, and plug-in developer Simon Ubsdell shows you how to edit faster and more easily using the very useful but not often known-about Overlay edit function in Premiere Pro. This Quick Tip tutorial also offers tips on grouping.
Art of the Edit
Always Be Editing: Sculptors & Bricklayers Revisited
Do you edit like a sculptor, or like a bricklayer? It seems a simple enough question, but as longtime editor, post house owner, and VFX software developer Simon Ubsdell shows, the implications for how this affects the way you edit can be profound. His advice, regardless of where you land on the spectrum? Always be editing.
Hearing The Handmaid's Tale: Jane Tattersall's Sound Career
With Emmy, BAFTA, Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel, Canadian Screen, and Directors Guild of Canada Awards among many more, Jane Tattersall shares insights into a career in sound editing entering its fourth decade with two young women just beginning their own careers in the field. Their conversation begins with Jane's work on the Hulu hit series, The Handmaid's Tale.
Feature, People / Interview
Art of the Edit
Indie Film Sound Editing: A This Guy Edits Tutorial
ACE Award-nominated picture editor Sven Pape ("This Guy Edits") speaks with Sundance Award-winning sound editor Ugo Derouard on The 5 Five Steps of Audio Post Production: Sound Editing, Spotting, Dialog Editing, Sound Design, and Sound Mixing, paying special attention to the specific needs of, and techniques that can work best for, independent filmmakers.
Adobe After Effects
Stabilize 360 Video with Mocha VR
In this intermediate tutorial, Mocha Product Manager Martin Brennand takes you through smoothing the horizon in a Samsung Gear 360 shot using the Reorient Module in Mocha VR. Jittery 360 video footage can be made more watchable by stabilizing with Mochaâ€™s planar tracking tools. The tutorial is done via the Adobe After Effects plug-in, but the techniques apply to all versions of Mocha VR.
DJI Mavic Pro In Depth Review - The Best 4K Drone?
VFX guru Tobias Gleissenberger was so delighted with the DJI Mavic Pro 4K drone that he bought (yes, bought) that he was inspired to take a break from making tutorials to create an in-depth review of this compact, lightweight, consumer drone offering terrific value. No, it's not a platform for your digital cinema camera, but if you're looking for a fast, fun, integrated 4K camera drone packed with features, the Mavic Pro might be for you. This review is delivered Surfaced Studio-style, with wit, high energy, and details you won't find anywhere else.
The Panasonic EVA1: Questions Answered!
Anticipation that Panasonic began building for their "mystery camera" at April's NAB Show 2017 was paid off at June's Cine Gear Expo 2017 in Hollywood, as Panasonic finally unveiled their AU-EVA1 cinema camera. Compact, lightweight, equipped with a newly designed 5.7K Super 35 sensor, and positioned between the Panasonic Lumix GH5 4K mirrorless camera and the VariCam LT 4K cinema camera, the AU-EVA1 is tailor-made for handheld shooting, but also well suited for documentaries, commercials, and music videos. Panasonic Cinema Product Manager, Mitch Gross has provided some answers to early questions about the EVA1â€™s target audience, shooting applications, Dual Native ISO, the 5.7K sensor, and more.
Art of the Edit
TV Workflow Supervisor Kylee PeÃ±a: The Benefits of Pressure
TV workflow supervisor Kylee PeÃ±a (Jane the Virgin, Colony) visits Adobe's "Make It" talk show to chat with host Jason Levine about the evolution of motion picture workflows, from the days of film and tape to our modern digital world of crazy-high shooting ratios and constantly evolving technology. She also expounds on the upside to creative constraints and tight deadlines. And donâ€™t miss the lightning round!!!
Feature, People / Interview