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Panavision’s Genesis Camera

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By Jack Egan
Panavision is first out of the gate with a totally digital camera designed from the ground up that’s expressly directed to making motion pictures. The maker of imaging equipment, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, unveiled the Genesis on June 9th.
Cinematographers quickly hailed the advance. “We’re now about to take a leap forward for systems for image acquisition that no longer resemble in any way shape or form equipment and systems that we that we adapted from television cameras to try and make movies,” said Stephen Poster, ASC, a former president of the American Society of Cinematographers, and one of the group’s technology gurus.
Arriflex of Germany and Canada’s Dalsa are two other leading companies that have been working on all-digital motion cameras with similar adaptability, but Panavision’s is the first ready for actual use. Panavison president Bob Beitcher said the the company would have “many available for rental in early 2005.”
“Inevitably for the last 50 years Panavision has always done the right thing as far as cinematographers’ needs are concerned,” said Poster. He stressed that the camera “is not meant to replace film, it’s an alternative that gives us another color on our palette. Like having both oil and acrylics. The misconception is that [cinematographers] have been looking to replace film. Film remains a very good medium, and for the right thing it will still be used. But now we have a choice.”
Members of the ASC were just getting their hands on the breakthrough camera as Below the Line was going to press. A test film was shot for Panavision by Allen Daviau, ASC and his crew, including 1st AC Jack Ellingwood. Daviau most recently was the cinematographer on Van Helsing.
“Filmmakers asked for a camera not tethered to a recording system and free from excessive cables,” noted Bob Harvey, Panasonic senior veep for world sales. “With Genesis, the docking recorder travels on the top and rear of the camera to simulate the look and feel–as well as the convenience–of the Panaflex.”
The key to the new camera’s technology: It has a large format, uses a super-35 single-chip sensor, and is able to use normal lenses. At the same time, it has the same depth-of-field as ordinary film-based motion picture cameras.The fully portable digital imaging camera uses all existing spherical 35mm lenses, including Primo primes and zooms and support gear.
Other features include full bandwitdth, dual link 4:4:4 HDSDI outputs, single 4:2:2 HDSDI monitor output, dual viewfinder outputs, fiber optic camera adaptor, intergrated len strol among other features. With a 12.4 mega pixel, true RGB asensor, 10-bit log per color ouput, Panasvision said the camera has a greater dynamic range than avaiable digitial cameras.
The Genesis is based on Sony’s CCD technology, and was designed jointly by Sony and Panavision.

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