Director of Photography John Kelleran shot season eight of the Travel Channel’s popular Hotel Impossible show with Panasonic VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorders. With several episodes of season eight already broadcast the remainder of the season will resume in September 2017.
Hotel Impossible is a reality television program in which struggling hotels receive an extensive makeover by veteran hotel operator and hospitality expert Anthony Melchiorri and team. DP Kelleran has more than two decades experience shooting reality/documentary projects, including extensive travel assignments.
Working for production company Atlas Media (New York, NY), Kelleran shot a dozen Hotel Impossible hour-long episodes in locations ranging from Palm Springs, Fire Island and Capes May and Hatteras to Sandusky, OH and Albany, NY. The production, beginning last April and wrapping December 2016, spent five days in each locale.
The previous year, Kelleran had shot episodes of HGTV’s Caribbean Life and Mexico Life with Panasonic’s AJ-HDX900 P2 HD camcorder. “Having worked with that camcorder many times in the past, I was reminded how much I loved the Panasonic ‘look,’ how the company’s cameras generate an emotional response with their handling of skin tones and color,” the DP said. “When the Hotel Impossible project came my way several months later, I felt obliged to take a serious look at the new VariCam LT—super 35mm sensor, low weight, low power consumption and, of course, with the classic image handling that was so attractive to me.”
What was new to Kelleran was the VariCam LT’s dual native ISOs of 800/5000. “I tested ISO5000 by shooting in my own basement at night, and had my son illuminated only by a lighter and whatever light was coming through the small basement window, one foot candle at best,” he recounted. “The footage showed spectacular light on the boy.”
Kelleran regularly deployed ISO5000 on each episode. “The crux of the show is chasing out problems in dark corners and corridors, which we were able to do like never before,” he said. “The LT’s extreme low light handling allowed us to work in dark rooms with only motivated light sources like lamps and windows, and absolutely keep the honesty of the narrative.”
Kelleran noted that he would often access the VariCam LT’s VFR capability along with ISO5000. “We’d shoot at 120fps coming down a dimly-lit hotel corridor, and the movement was fantastic.”
The production rented three VariCam LTs from Talamas (Watertown, MA). Kelleran said he shot in AVC-Intra 4:2:2 1080p, and utilized the LTs’ standard EF mounts. “Using EF lenses (Tokina 11-16mm wide-angle zoom, Canon 16-35mm wide-angle zoom, Canon 24-105mm standard zoom and Canon 70-200mm telephoto zoom ) allowed me and our AC and camera operators to keep the physical size of the camera package down, to under sling the cameras and be very nimble.”
Atlas Media is handling the edit, using Avid Media Composer. “We gave post such a solid image that they had to spend very little time or money on color correction, but could rather devote resources to graphics, sound design and more,” Kelleran said.
“The VariCam LT is hands down the best camera available for the kind of work I do,” the DP added. “It lets real things happen in front of you that you can capture without any intrusive manipulation of the lighting.”
For more information about Hotel Impossible and to watch episodes/recaps, visit http://www.travelchannel.com/shows/hotel-impossible
About the VariCam LT
The VariCam LT camcorder inherits the same super 35mm sensor and superb imaging capabilities that distinguish the award-winning VariCam 35, but with significant reductions in size, weight and price. Incorporating this identical imaging “DNA” in a more compact rendition, the VariCam LT delivers 14+ stops of dynamic range with V-Log, and the esteemed cinematic VariCam image quality and color science, as well as the VariCam 35's breakout innovation, dual native ISOs of 800/5000. Weighing just under six pounds and having superior capability to similar sized cameras, the VariCam LT is the ideal camera for handheld, Steadicam, jib, crane, drone, gimbal and overall cinema verité work.
For more information about Panasonic VariCam cinema and high-speed cameras, visit us.panasonic.com/varicam, or contact Panasonic at 877-803-8492.
About Panasonic Broadcast, Cinema and Professional Video Systems
Panasonic offers leading products to acquire, transmit and view high-quality video, over both video and IP networks. Professional products include VariCam cinema cameras, P2 HD camcorders, 4K and HD handheld cameras, Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras, studio and box cameras, switchers and monitors. These products serve customers in cinema, broadcast, professional sports, higher education, enterprise and other markets.
About Panasonic Corporation of North America
Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America is a leading technology partner and integrator to businesses, government agencies and consumers across the region. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation and the hub of Panasonic’s U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. Panasonic was featured in Fortune Magazine’s 2016 ranking of 50 companies that are changing the world and doing well by doing good. Specifically cited were its smart and sustainable technologies, including its contributions to smart cities and the electric vehicle revolution.