VariCam rides down memory lane

Directing duo Henk van den Doel and Maarten Kempen make use of the VariCam LT, Panasonic’s flagship cinematic camera, to shoot online advert for Kawasaki Motors.

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Client: F&P Media / Kawasaki Motors Europe

Location: Netherlands

Product(s) supplied: VariCam LT


To incorporate RAW formatting and compact form into a cinema camera which suits a richly coloured look and style when shooting an advert for Kawasaki Motors Europe.


The use of Panasonic's VariCam LT professional video camera, to shoot the new online advert for Kawasaki Motors Europe, honing the classic VariCam look.

"The images look great straight out of camera - obviously there is a bit of tweaking to get to the final images, but once the scene and lighting are set, the camera delivers."

F&P Media, a production company which worked with Kawasaki, hired Directing duo Henk van den Doel and Maarten Kempen to direct and shoot an online advert for Kawasaki Motors Europe, managing the whole production from the creation of the story to post production.

Henk van den Doel, Director says, “We started off back in 2005 with the Panasonic DVX100 – it’s a collector’s item now – and we loved that little camera, we used it a lot during our first few years and it was great. After that, we moved to a RAW camera, and combined it with Panasonic's AG-AF100, which we used for our smaller projects with a quick turnaround time. We used the RAW workflow for commercials and more demanding projects.”


"The image quality straight out of the camera is simply stunning."

Henk continues, “The original VariCam has always had our interest, and when we heard Panasonic had finally brought out a new model, we were very excited. We looked into it and decided to take the plunge. It is the combination of the RAW camera and the AF100 all in one, which serves all purposes for us.”

The directing duo follow a signature style throughout many of their videos with its colourful and high contrast images, which is made even more prominent with the help of the VariCam's unique colour science.

Besides providing a fantastic look, the VariCam delivers outstanding reliability, which was a key purchasing decision for them. Henk expands, “With cameras now being so much of a computer with a lens, I like it when a camera still feels like a camera. Everything is well made, it is all in the right place and it makes sense. It just works on a daily basis and fits into our routine very well.”


"It's fast to work with, sturdy and reliable..."

“We hardly did any tests with the VariCam LT before purchase. We went and got some hands on experience with the camera, but we didn’t even put it through a test chart or anything. We saw images online and knew that was what we were looking for. Based on its first showreel, we were confident that we could take it to where we wanted it to go,” explains Henk.

“We use the camera for 95% of all our commercial and narrative projects – this is where I think the camera really shines,” says Maarten Kempen.

Henk continues, “It's so versatile and quick to adapt; from the high-end projects like Kawasaki to long recording sessions with a different recording codec. One day we were shooting the Kawasaki project with cine lenses on the PL mount and the next day the camera was on a shoot with a presenter with a stabilised EFlens attached – the flexibility is very nice. It's fast to work with, sturdy and reliable, and the image quality straight out of the camera is simply stunning.”

A key unique feature of the VariCam line-up is the dual-native ISO sensitivity of 800 and 5000, allowing the operator to produce incredibly clean images in lower-light conditions, whilst maintaining the full 14+ stops of dynamic range at both ISO levels.

“The dual native ISO is not critical for us, but it is handy. Before we shot with the VariCam, a lot of the cameras were either ISO 320 or ISO 800, and now we have a starting point at 800. If we use a slower zoom lens, or in low-light situations, we sometimes switch it back to ISO 5000. There is a lot more flexibility and it opens up new possibilities,” explains Henk.

The Kawasaki project was based around the eagerly anticipated 2018 model, Z900RS, which is an up-to-date modern classic of the legendary 1970's Kawasaki Z1, which not only acted as a crucial stepping stone for Kawasaki as a brand, but also changed the face of performance motorcycling forever.

Maarten explains,“With F&P Media we create studio videos for multiple motorbikes per model year. During the briefing of the 2018 line-up, this new Z900RS immediately stood out. So we knew we had to come up with something special here.”

Henk adds, “It was the Kawasaki Z1 heritage, the link to a true classic motorcycle that made us realise that a rather clean studio shoot would not do justice to this new-born classic.”

"We saw some images online and knew that was what we were looking for."

“A good camera is never a replacement for mediocre lighting. But when working on the Kawasaki project, everything was in a controlled environment, so we had full control of the lighting which was created by Director of Photography, Maurice Bossers. He did a terrific job in creating the look and feel we went for. By creating the look on set, it took little further colouring. It was nearly straight out of the camera. The images that came out on the monitor were wonderful.”

It was a first time F&P Media took a Kawasaki ‘studio shoot' outside an actual studio, and added a storyline to the script. Based in an old barn, they took everything out and re-built it to look like a motorbike workshop. This worked very well, so much so, the video was selected in Adforum's ‘Best Ads Top 5 Worldwide' in November 2017. “We received very positive feedback,” comments Henk.

PLEASE NOTE: All images Copyright of Xander Koppelmans

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