In the latest issue of New Zealand's screen industry publication
'Crewed', technology writer Peter Parnham talks about New Zealand's
most popular TV series Shortland Street upgrading their cameras to
Panasonic's VariCam 35 cameras.
Shortland Street Gear Treat
via Crewed Magazine
In a new world where free to air audiences are in danger of
wandering off, it has to make sense to look after the show that
earns the big dollars. The latest TVNZ advertising schedule shows
Shortland Street way ahead in earning power, pulling about 60
percent more than, say, an advertising spot during TV One's 6pm
Hence the investment in a substantial quantity of new cameras,
lenses, and lighting by producers South Pacific Pictures is a
relatively safe bet. New gear doesn't by itself rejuvenate the look
of the show, but the particular choices made break with the past
and make the new look possible.
The switch to a new set of cameras is news among camera
aficionados because of the decision to go with five Panasonic
VariCam 35 cameras: three set up for studio, and two set up for
location shooting. It is the first sale of the new cameras in New
Zealand and probably the biggest number of cameras sold in one go
since the last time Shortland Street upgraded to hi-definition in
It also represents somewhat of a comeback to high-end cameras
for Panasonic and wins them immediate admission to the senior ranks
of the 35mm digital camera club - a club which is getting rather
crowded with its new and eager upstarts intent on disturbing the
With the Varicam 35 cameras, Directors call the shots and switch
cameras much as they would do in a live studio broadcast. The
VariCam 35 cameras will also happily shoot film style, as Shortland
Street does on location, where the signal is recorded to memory
cards for later ingestion and editing.
The switched approach allows post-production supervisor Dylan
Reeve to take some whole sequences as more or less complete.
However, for the last couple of years they've recorded both the
line cut and the individual cameras - just in case.
Reeve says once they had selected which cameras to buy they
could begin to exploit the other benefits on offer. Technically,
the camera has an extraordinary optional native ISO 5000
"The new camera is three stops more sensitive than what we had,
maybe even four stops, and has a low noise floor. We don't need as
much light in the sets, we can play light and dark more than we
used to," Reeve says.
Post-production supervisor Dylan Reeve expected punters to
notice the visual transition and, for the dedicated fans, there was
a Facebook post announcing the change.
"Shortland Street fans are incredibly vocal on Facebook but it
drops away very quickly. When we make changes, you could ask them
what is different and they wouldn't able to tell you, but they
could tell you that something is different. At least that's been my
experience," Reeve says, recalling the change from standard
definition to high definition, from interlaced to progressive
images, and from stereo to 5.1 surround sound.
It's worth investing, improving, and evolving. Yes, content is
king and a show lives or dies on the drama and story, but check out
early Shortland Street episodes on YouTube and you'll see
technology and a visual style that would kill a show today. Most
shows simply die off before they have any need to take on new
generations of gear or a new look.
CLICK HERE to read the full feature
About the Panasonic VariCam 35 4K camera/recorder
The VariCam 35 is an exceptional tool for high-end filmmaking,
commercials and episodic production as well as live 4K events. The
camera provides superb image handling in multiple formats ranging
from pristine 4K RAW to more practical 4K, UHD, 2K, HD and HD
ProRes capture. Several assets set the VariCam 35 apart from other
high-end cinematography cameras, including dual native ISOs of 800
and 5000, allowing DPs to realise incredible image quality in
dramatically low light situations; the ability to record three
simultaneous video formats (4K + 2K + Proxy, or UHD + HD + Proxy);
an optional high-speed 4K uncompressed RAW recorder (CODEX) that
captures uncompressed 4K VariCam RAW (V-RAW) at up to 120fps;
internal AVC-Intra 4K / 2K / HD recording to 120fps; support for an
ACES workflow for full fidelity mastering of original source
material; and in-camera Color-Grading via CDLs / 3D LUTs. LEARN MORE.