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Old September 6th, 2016, 10:55 AM   #1
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Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

I've been using the Varicam V35 on my last two TV series, the first of which has started to air on MTV. "Mary + Jane" tells the tale of two young women eking a living in the brave new world of legalized marijuana with their delivery business. Set in the uber-hip Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles (just down the street for me--I even got to walk to work one day which in LA is all but unheard of!), the half-hour comedy skewers the weed, youth and hipster culture.

I opted for the Varicam on this for several reasons. I've been using the Alexa for the past four years on shows like "Key & Peele", "Teachers" and "Playing House" along with various commercials and features but I was getting myself mentally prepared when the call came from a Netflix etc. that mandated "true" (DCI) 4K aka 4096x2160, as opposed to the UHD flavor that the Arri can provide. I saw demos of the soon to be released Varicam LT and was intrigued. Some testing later, I was really interested in the dual ISO sensor in both the LT and the V35 and saw how that could be useful. I found the native 5000 to be a little on the noisy side--not bad at all for the speed, but certainly more so than the native 800. However my testing showed that 5000 dialed down to 2000 was quite respectable in terms of noise, and it delivered 1 1/3 stops more sensitivity than the native 800, which was quite a powerful weapon. I then opted to light all of my stage work to ISO 2000, which allowed me to cut the size/wattage of the units in half, which saved power and heat and also effectively doubled the output of the LED units I use (Lightmats, Quasar tubes, Cineos etc).

When it came time to shoot night exteriors, I was able to work with existing streetlights and capture cityscapes in a much more powerful way by dialing the native 5000 back up to anywhere between 3200 and 5000. The producers loved that I wasn't calling in the "big guns" typical of night exterior shooting, and the more raw and naturalistic appearance was more in the spirit of the show anyway.

I'm now on my second series with the camera and we are pushing it just as far if not further. Tonight I'll be shooting on the helipad at Griffith Park towards the city and will likely be up in that top end ISO again.

I've found color rendition of the camera to be excellent and we've had very few operational issues. Panasonic is continuing to work on the firmware for both Varicam models and are listening to our concerns and implementing change where they can. No camera is perfect and I may well go back to Alexa for the next project if it calls for it, but in the meantime I've been having a fine time on the Varicam.

Check out "Mary + Jane" on MTV (the current episode airing is the pilot which I didn't shoot, although we have some reshoot scenes in there--the regular season starts with next Monday's episode).

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Old September 8th, 2016, 09:45 AM   #2
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Re: Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

Charles:

Great stuff, the series looks funny. Just out of curiosity, have you shot with the Varicam LT yet?
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Old September 8th, 2016, 10:14 AM   #3
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Re: Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

I haven't! The LT introduction was where I learned about the Varicam line but I have yet to shoot with that camera. Honestly I had a few concerns about it for my type of production but those have been largely addressed with firmware updates, such as lookaround in the viewfinder. If my next show incorporates a lot of handheld I will definitely be considering it.
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Old September 11th, 2016, 01:49 PM   #4
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Re: Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

I have played with and shot with the Varicam but like you, have not tried the LT. The price looks great but unfortunately the reboot to change any format/frame rate changes would likely not work for my type of shoots. I shoot a lot of small crew, fast-moving stuff and waiting around for reboots would get me the evil eye from producers. Also, a bit big and imposing for BTS work. I have been on sets where my BTS camera was as large and decked out as productions and it's just not good. I am typically supposed to be the "fly on the wall" so a C300 MKII or FS7 type of camera is more suitable.

Good to speak with you Charles, appreciate the posts and info you always put out for us.
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Old September 11th, 2016, 02:06 PM   #5
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Re: Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

It is a little time consuming to have to wait for the frame rate and codec changes to take effect, indeed. I can see that being an issue for run and gun. On the last show the BTS fella was using an FS7. It would have been fun if it had been an LT! could have shared our settings!
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Old September 12th, 2016, 12:37 PM   #6
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Re: Varicam V35 on MTV's "Mary + Jane"

Hopefully one day I will be shooting the BTS on one of your projects! That would be too much fun to watch you work.
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