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"film-like" settings on Varicam

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micah ginn
"film-like" settings on Varicam
on Mar 8, 2012 at 8:39:47 pm

I have a Panasonic Varicam Model AJ-HDC27FP and am hoping someone can give me a menu-settings recipe for getting the footage to look more film-like than video-like.

Any advice or links to screen-shots/tutorials would be sincerely appreciated!

Thank you!

Micah Ginn

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john sharaf
Re: "film-like" settings on Varicam
on Mar 8, 2012 at 9:24:14 pm


It actually surprises me how long the tape based Varicam has lasted and that folks are still using it. It is a testament to the brilliance of the designers and engineers who created it almost ten years ago.

While it was not the first cinema style video camera (the Sony F900 was) it was the first to offer "cine-gamma(s)" that in addition to the 24p frame rate created a very film-like look.

You'll notice that you can choose between a "video" and "film" menu. For your purposes you obviously want the film menu, 23.97 (or 25 in PAL land) frame rate and 180 degree shutter.

The next and perhaps most creative selection is then the "dynamic range" setting. Your options are 200,300,400 and 500%. The higher the percentage, the less sensitive the camera is (ISO), the more highlight control you have, the more desaturated the colors become and the more you'll need to color correct the result. this is why you want to use this setting selectively based on the amount of highlight suppression the actual scene you're shooting requires.

There are many of us who used the camera in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWUG) mode, meaning that the more compression we invoked, we'd crush the gamma (higher number like .55 or .60 vs nominal .45) to both increase the contrasty and saturation. This was not really Panasonic's intention for the camera, yet often yielded the desired result without extensive post color correction.

You must experiment with the various combination of scenes, dynamic range and gamma settings to master the camera capabilities. If you're successful, you'll create some great looking and film-like pictures.

Best of luck,


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