An eight-hour series for CMT directed by Roland Joffé, Sun Records chronicles the rise of musicians Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in Memphis during the tumultuous early days of the civil rights movement.
William Wages, ASC, captured Sun Records using three Panasonic VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorders rented from Division Camera in Los Angeles. He shot UHD (3840 x 2160) using AVC Intra 4:2:2 at 23.98 fps. Two camera operators managed the three cameras, with most of the shots handled on a Steadicam and DJI Ronin handheld gimbal system. The third VariCam LT was operated in a traditional setup. The cameras were outfitted with Fujinon 19-90mm and 85-300mm Cabrio compact lenses, with some smaller zooms used on the Ronin.
Wages says the camcorder’s native 5000 ISO imager made the biggest impact on the cinematography. “The ability to use so much less light changes everything. I’ve always liked the VariCam color science—I think it looks the most like film—but the 5000 ISO is absolutely staggering.
“Working with these latest generation VariCams suits my style of going for a natural look, not a ‘movie’ feel,” he adds. “I never have to worry about lighting for exposure. I can light for effect.”