RTM Shoots PowerNation With Panasonic VariCam

RTM Productions, creators of PowerNation, the U.S.A.’s most-watched automotive how-to TV programming, is producing its 2017 season of popular tech shows with recently acquired Panasonic gear, including six VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorders, three DVX200 4K handhelds and ten BT-4LH310 4K production monitors.

RTM Productions shoots 92 episodes (23 of each show) each year. The facility house six separate production studios, one assigned to each of the block shows, the fifth to PowerNation interstitials and PowerNation Daily. The PowerNation interstitials run throughout the block featuring unique vehicles and interviews with automotive industry leaders and trendsetters. PowerNation Daily runs online and has the latest auto industry news. The sixth studio is dedicated to PowerNation Garage, a new show that is distributed digitally.

The VariCam LT on crane.

The VariCam LT on crane.

Seventy percent of the programming is shot in these studios, with a minimum of one Panasonic VariCam LT assigned to each studio (the exception being PowerNation Garage, which is shot exclusively with DVX200 handhelds). Hawkins said the VariCam LTs, outfitted with Fujinon 20-120mm Cabrio PL lenses, are utilized 70 % handheld, 20% on tripods, and 10% on jibs. “Pay-off” segments, showing the results of in-studio fabrications, are shot outdoors on race tracks, drag strips, at off-road events and so on.

“There were only a handful of cameras that met our criteria of having a large sensor, HDR, VFR, simultaneous recording options and 4K output. With its stand-out asset of dual native 800/5000 ISOs as well as all these features, the VariCam LT led the way.”
Matthew Hawkins president RTM Productions.

Shows are captured in AVC-Intra 4K 4:2:2, with a simultaneous record of high-resolution HD proxies. Each studio has a workstation where the directors edit a rough cut. Master files are backed up to servers and LTO. “The proxies help us navigate the thumbnails for the final edit,” Byrne noted. RTM Productions’ NLE platform is Adobe Premiere Pro.

“The importance of VariCam LT’s HDR capability can’t be overstated,” said Randy Byrne, Post Production Director for RTM. “So many of our shots are up under cars, angles that aren’t easily lit, and we never saw great contrast shooting in HD. Now, with the expanded color space, we’re seeing detail and variations in the blacks.”

Most weekends, auto enthusiasts can literally get their fix by watching the two-hour PowerNation TV block of four shows--Detroit Muscle, Engine Power, Truck Tech, Xtreme Off Road —on the CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, and Spike cable networks, as well as on most of the 60+ broadcast stations owned by RTM Productions’ parent company, Raycom Media.

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