The Panasonic AF101 Hits the World of Online Advertising

Frame from the commercial - Panasonic's AF101 is trying hard to set itself apart from the video DSLR revolutionIndependent production company Delinquent's online commercial for Hewlett Packard's ePrint system is an example of a new emerging format which attempts to combine digital budgets with advertising production values.  

The commercial short was filmed and edited using broadcast-approved equipment and professional actors.  But without prime time commercial fees to pay, or a restrictive play time, Delinquent were free to experiment, creating a longer-form, story-based advert.

The final runtime of 2 minutes gave the directors the opportunity to develop a number of scenarios in which the HP print system could be used in the home.  The unfolding mini-drama, set in the confines of a bustling family home required DOP Paul Lucas to select agile, lightweight equipment that could capture a "glossy TV ad look," with limited space and budget.  As the budget was set for an online video rather than a TV commercial, cost was an important factor.  Lucas assesses the impact the budget had on the production.

"In the end we honestly didn't feel that we compromised too much at all.  The lighting set up - HMIs, Dedo kits and small tungsten units - allowed us to balance natural and artificial light for a bright, natural daylight look.  The micro dolly was actually the biggest that the space would allow and was perfectly adequate for the shots in the script.  The low-cost Panasonic AF101 rather than being a weak link, was actually the star of the show."

Hired from VMI Rentals, the AF101 was supplied with a set of Zeiss ZF Distagon /Planar stills lenses from 18mm to 85mm.  For the DOP, its SDI outputs, timecode, waveform monitoring options and built in ND filters set it apart from DSLR systems.  "It's the natural successor of tools like the 5D, with all the control you’d expect over depth of field, but in the context of a professional camera system,” concluded Lucas, who is himself a Canon 5D owner.

As the programme was destined for online delivery, recording on-board in its native AVCHD codec was selected. Its impressive picture performance is now tempting Lucas to trial comparable cameras from Sony, the FS100 and F3 to judge whether they offer better results. “The latitude of the 101 is one of my favourite things about it. You really feel like you can build layers of shading into the picture, rather than shooting something that already looks graded and compressed.”

"It's difficult to pick fault in the 101’s image quality.  But it’s small size has the usual ergonomic problems, and getting true wide angles is tricky with the 4/3rds crop factor. But truthfully it's a great performer and very intuitive to use."

The DOP is now looking forward to pushing the Panasonic to its limits: "My background is shooting music video and documentary so I would love to use the 101 for something cinematic - overcrank the camera and record to a Nano Flash in a full HD broadcast setting."

Posted on June 2, 2011 and filed under dslr.