Panasonic Varicam LT Captures The Harsh Conditions of “Maine”

The upcoming feature film “Maine,” which details the journey of a married woman from Spain to reclaim her identity while hiking solo through the Appalachian Trail, was shot with a Panasonic VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorder

The location work for Maine was completed over an 18-day shoot in Southwest Virginia’s Grayson and Smyth Counties—with the wooded hiking paths of Virginia’s State Parks standing in for the Appalachian Trail (where no filming is allowed). An additional day of ocean photography was completed off the coast of North Carolina.

The Panasonic VariCam LT camcorder features a super 35mm sensor and more than 14 stops of dynamic range with V-Log, as well as dual native ISOs of 800/5000. Weighing just under six pounds, the VariCam LT is ideal for handheld, SteadiCam, jib, crane, drone, gimbal and overall cinema verité work. The camera also offers an EF lens mount, hot swappable batteries, IR shooting capability, a 23.98 PsF output, cinema style file naming, and image presets such as scene files.

Donald R. Monroe, Maine’s Director of Photography said that he has always enjoyed the color science of Panasonic cameras. Outfitting the VariCam LT with Cooke Speed Panchro vintage lenses, he was able to achieve an overall vibrant and organic look for the film.

"A large portion of the film was planned to be handheld therefor ergonomics was a critical factor in selecting the camera,” he said. “At under six pounds, the camera allowed me to operate shots that would be up to ten minutes long in certain situations.”

The film is the winner of the inaugural AbelCine Feature Film Grant, a program initiated in partnership with Film Independent, with the award including a VariCam rental package supplied by AbelCine. (Film Independent is a Los Angeles-based non-profit arts organization that champions independent filmmakers.)

“The VariCam LT also proved to be a rugged camera system for our nearly entirely exterior shoot,” Monroe said. “We had no problems with the camera in relatively extreme conditions. When shooting in hot weather, the camcorder never overheated. We found ourselves shooting in foggy conditions where moisture was a major concern; the camera held up without a problem. We hauled it up mountains, ran away from swarms of bees, crossed streams, shot in driving rain.”

Maine was shot in AVC-Intra 4K 4:2:2 at 23.98 and 30 fps. Footage was off-loaded using P2 Viewer Plus software and transcoded to ProRes 422 for editing in Adobe Premier.

Monroe previously collaborated with writer/director Matthew Brown on a debut feature called “In the Treetops, which premiered at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival—just days after the pair graduated from college.

Currently in post-production, Maine is slated for a 2017 festival premiere and theatrical release; with plans to distribute the film in 2K. The captivating film was produced by Summer Shelton and Beachside Films’ Michael B. Clark and Alex Turtletaub and is the second collaboration of writer/director Brown and DP Monroe.

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