The Only Constant is Change

We’re pleased to publish this guest blog post from Matt Katsolis, the grand prize winner of the Panasonic “Shoot It. Share It.” video contest.

About the only thing in life I’ve come to count on in video production is change. That and to expect the unexpected, so keeping that in mind, where does one begin to look to find the perfect tool for the ever-changing job? You’ve heard it said so many times, “the right tool for the right job” – but what you have to really ask yourself is, “What is the job?”

For most of my close friends in the production world, and me, it happened to be Panasonic’s HVX200. But this is jumping years ahead to the magic of solid-state P2 drives, log and transfer windows with no rewinding, and amazing HD picture quality in a hand held digital camera. Just like any tool that becomes essential, it needs to be refined to become better.

Matt Katsolis on location in the Great Lakes shooting a new film for Red Bull.

Flashback to 8 years ago in Los Angeles when I was a PA at ESPN’s X-Games, I distinctly remember seeing a camera operator walking around the Staples Center with the original Panasonic DVX100 Mini-DV camera, the HVX’s predecessor. If there was a law against staring at camera I would have been put away for this awkwardly long, eyes glazed-over stare. I just remember how slick it looked, not having all the misplaced, non-ergonomic, viewfinders and random jutting XLR connections. It just looked amazing and I had to have one. Once I got mine, along with all my colleagues, we were continually amazed how well it cut with super 16mm, the soft color curve that was so “film-like,” (what the kids were saying at the time) and how well it integrated into our work flow.

Over the next few years, we took our Panasonic camcorders to the far reaches of the globe. Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and all over Central and South America and one thing was constant – it worked and worked really well. I have never seen such a work-horse of a camera, enduring all the abuse we could throw at it.

Fast forward to 2008 when all of us made the jump to the HVX200, still the staple of our production work. The clarity of the Leica lens and the overall logical layout, the ability to under and over-crank, which was normally reserved for the high end Varicam line and my friend’s old Milliken Camera. Immediately our production quality stock went up. We put out shorts, promotional videos; documentaries and TV shows that people couldn’t believe were being done on this small, affordable camera.

The HVX200 has equally proved itself a worthy successor, enduring the same beatings and overuse with ease. We’ve had it mounted on jibs over burning piles of trash and debris while filming “Day Of Light” in Nicaragua.  The HVX200 has been submerged in custom made SPL Water Housings in Tavarua, Fiji and hanging out of helicopters for aerial shoots worldwide. And most recently it was the principle camera chosen by myself and  one of my best friend’s, talented cinematographer, Nic McLean, for our new feature documentary in Uganda, “Moving On,” the winner of the Panasonic ‘Shoot It. Share It.’ contest.  As we’ve come to learn, time and time again, it handled the rigorous demands and kept running. With the addition of the new HPX370, the grand prize of the contest, to our production arsenal, I can only expect that again, we will see another step forward in functionality and image quality, and that again, we have chosen the right “tool” for the job, whatever it may be.

For more information on Matt and his work, head on over to Interpret Studios.