ChallengeTo create a TV programme that has a cinematic feel.
SolutionThe latest update for the Panasonic VariCam LT 4K camera, the latest update allows for broadcast environment settings and comprehensive colourimetry control.
"Thanks to the VariCam LT camera we are able to achieve an image live every day as striking as what we achieved in the promos, which caused much surprise."
Movistar+ has recently launched its new talent show ‘Fama a bailar', produced by Zeppelin TV (Endemol Shine Iberia). Ten years since its TV début, Movistar+ has returned to a format whereby during the course of thirteen weeks, eight dance duos are to coexist in an academy full of classes, workshops, visits from artists, nominations, expulsions and more.
‘Fama a bailar' airs daily on channel 0 (Movistar+) and through its 24-hour channel (Movistar+ and Youtube).
Movistar+ and Zeppelin TV set up this peculiar dance academy in an iconic building. After considering numerous locations, the former perfume factory in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) was chosen. Perfumerías GAL is an impressive open space with vaulted ceilings and large glass windows.
"We wanted to achieve an aesthetic feel and a level of quality that continued to surprise the audience. This was possible with the use of cinematographic cameras."
This historical industrial unit brought some challenges, such as creating available living quarters for the participants, as well aslarge and small sets.
José Luis Gacal, Zeppelin TV's Technical Director says, “We prioritised arranging the technical installations for audio, signalling, lighting cables, etc. to minimise their visibility in front of the camera.”
As for the image on the screen, Zeppelin has opted for an innovative cinematic feel. For the first time worldwide, a daily programme broadcast live is being produced with digital cinematography cameras. The producer has chosen Panasonic's VariCam LT 4K camera with its most recent update that allows for broadcast environment settings and comprehensive colourimetry control, in addition to tally and return video management.
“Both the casting sessions and promos for ‘Fama' surprised everyone with their ‘cinematic look'. We wanted to achieve an aesthetic feel and a level of quality that continued to surprise the audience. This was possible with the use of cinematographic cameras,” adds Gacal.
“We started looking into manufacturers that were able to offer cinema quality coupled with studio features. We were delighted to discover that Panasonic has recently fully integrated its studio remote operation panels (ROP) and its VariCam LT cinema cameras,” continues the TV's technical director.
“Despite a pioneering experiment such as this one never being devoid of unforeseen issues, the truth is that ever since the first demo they prepared, and up until this moment, Panasonic has been there for us every step of the way. After the initial testing stage, we identified that some tweaks were needed to respond to the challenges of live production. We passed our comments to Panasonic, and after just a week, we received a firmware update featuring all the specifications we required from the system,” adds Gacal.
“Also, Panasonic's new AK-HRP1005 remote operation panel allows for working with a cinema camera as if it was a studio camera, exactly the same from an operational viewpoint.”
José Luis Gacal is convinced that the future trend will be to “work with cameras that have cinema features regardless of the ergonomics or weight of each model. Television also wants to benefit from the advantages offered by large sensors, wide dynamic ranges, 4K, HDR etc.”
A cinematic feel on TV
Gacal emphasises the fact that working live with the VariCam allows for making the most of the image generated by a wide dynamic range and high-sensitivity Super-35 sensor, producing an outstandingly accurate colour.
“Thanks to the VariCam LT camera we are able to achieve an image live every day as striking as what we achieved in the promos, which caused much surprise. To this day, even with the programme being on air, I still see images that shock me. We do not try to correct light conditions, instead, we attempt to work with the light there is at each moment, and to portray it as it presents itself in its environment, with its dominance or intensity.”
VariCam LT's latest update allows for recording V-log in the camera while live colour corrections are being made from the network-connected ROP. In terms of ‘Fama', the live broadcasts from the main set are codified in DNxHD 120, with 709 colour space signals ready for mixing and broadcasting. On the other hand, Zeppelin TV uses the versatile Panasonic AU-EVA1, cameras set to Logmode, and then processes the material for colour correction through post production.
"VariCam allows you to shoot with just a candle, you would need nothing else.”
“In live broadcasting, the VariCam camera allows us to adjust LUT by scene (up to 6 scenes) directly from the camera's control. This allows us to immediately respond to changes in the light conditions seeping through the windows or the skylight. In exteriors, the AU-EVA1 cameras offer us a texture that is as close as possible to that of a VariCam. Sometimes materials are mixed and we want the difference to seem as slight as possible,” says Gacal.
Another of the advantages brought by Panasonic's VariCam LT is its Dual ISO, which allows for capturing in ranges of 800 to 5000 ISO. “It is like having two native sensors in one camera. You start shooting at 800, and push the ISO upwards when you start noticing some noise, you set it to 5000 and the noise disappears once again. It changes the way the sensor reads and the sensitivity. VariCam allows you to shoot with just a candle, you would need nothing else.”
“Both during the day and in the evenings, VariCam allowed us to achieve the most faithful, clean image possible. We have not had to mask the image to achieve that cinematic feel, we have obtained it naturally. We don't need to force the contrast like we would using a studio camera,” he adds.
As for the difficulties involved in capturing the dancers in constant motion, “the solution provided is amazing. All you need is to properly control the focus and use a close diaphragm in certain fast-moving scenes.”
It is also worth mentioning that producing television from a conceptually cinematic viewpoint, does not just require versatile equipment such as VariCam, it also needs new professional profiles. To take on the production of ‘Fama a bailar', Zeppelin has created the post of photographic director, whose duty is to coordinate cameras and ensure adherence to the programme's style bible. In this case, it is Alberto D. Centeno (AEC), who is in charge of establishing the plane composition, ISO, depth, aperture range, etc., bestowing a continuity of sorts to production as a whole in terms of the image.
Lighting technician Iñaki Irastorza (AAI) also plays an essential role in this respect, as he has been able to make the most of the industrial unit where the dance academy is located - in spite of the limitations involved in using a space whose infrastructure was not originally conceived as a set.
A set in an old factory
During these last few weeks, the old GAL factory in Alcalá de Henares has become a great production centre from which the different live spaces, recaps and a 24-hour channel are produced, showing everything that's happening in ‘Fama a bailar'.
José Luis Gacal admits that “this mixer has proven to be very solid. It has not failed once, and its features have allowed us to speed up the whole setup, thanks to resources such as four simultaneous screens.”
Much like with other Zeppelin productions, all the video and audio materials are collected, stored and managed using EditShare systems, while EVS XT3 servers are used for any repeats and as players for pieces included in the live broadcast. Furthermore, a Riedel Mediornet network provides video, audio and data through an extended network throughout the facilities.
In terms of audio, the production company boasts Yamaha LS9-32 consoles with 32 - 64 channel - microphone/line inputs and Shure microphones.
Zeppelin TV's technical setup for the production of this talent show also boasts a number of Avid Media Composer and Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve edit rooms for finishing the recorded material.
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