Gordon Buchanan used a Panasonic VariCam LT camera to record extraordinary footage. Photo credit: Oak Island Films/Hello Halo TV.
It took three shoots across a period of seven months to tell the story of the lynx cat in a new BBC2 documentary entitled “Snow Cats & Me.” Several different Panasonic cameras were used to capture extraordinary footage of young lynx cats being rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the Russian wilderness.
The two-part series, spotlighting the work of Russian Big Cat expert Dr. Victor Lukarevskiy, was shot on location in the forests of Russia by a small production team headed up by wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan and producers Jonny Young and Ted Oakes.
The team used a Panasonic VariCam LT camera for the first shoot. Having used it on previous projects, the crew felt it was robust enough to be used in varying weather conditions and could capture both the incredible wildlife and the in-vision sync of the presenters.
For the second and third shoots, the team faced long-days in the forest working in lots of dense undergrowth, which meant moving around with a tripod for the camera was a challenge. Instead, the team needed a camera that would be lightweight and portable, but with all the features required to get the best possible film, and so switched to a camera package consisting of the Panasonic EVA1 from VI Rental Bristol.
“My shooting style is mainly handheld and reactive,” said series producer Young. “When Gordon is interacting with the animals, I can be getting the linking shots from up to 10 to 15 meters away. The EVA1 became the main workhorse after we decided that the LT—though a fantastic camera on our first shoot that gave us phenomenal pictures—was just too heavy as a handheld run-and-gun sync camera.”
The team needed a camera that could deliver the same color depth, off-speed shooting and dual native ISOs of the VariCam LT, but also be light enough to carry in the forest all day. The EVA1 with the Wooden Camera PL mount adapter kit and a Canon CN20 50-1000mm lens and tripod was light enough to be portable in the environment.
“It enabled us to shoot additional wide and beauty shots, opened up our lens options and brought versatility into our shooting,” explained Jonny. “For us, the innovation here came in the guise of weight savings. The EVAs were incredibly light and instantly made a difference on location, without compromising on image quality. The EVA1 allowed me to shoot for longer, which increased our productivity.”
The Dual Native ISO was a feature that particularly helped to capture every move of the lynx cats, said Executive Producer Ted Oakes. “The cats would often be very active at sunrise and sunset when the natural light was low. We weren't using any lights, as we were trying to be as unobtrusive as possible; so light sensitivity was important.”
Along with the Snow Cats toolkit, a Panasonic Lumix S1 mirrorless camera was used to shoot stills for press and publicity.
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