Director of photography Bobby Bukowski selected Panasonic VariCam 35 4K camera recorders for the tense and dramatic Netflix series Gypsy, featuring Naomi Watts. Bukowski wanted to shoot the series with ambient light. He says, “I was pretty astounded at the ISO 5000 performance—there was not nearly as much noise as I’d anticipated. What noise existed was quite pleasant, beautifully random, as with an analog film grain. Beyond light handling, I found the camera’s color space quite pleasing.”
The cinematographer explains that he shot predominantly at ISOs 800 and 1250, but would occasionally open to ISO 5000 to “exploit existing light.” He also used ISO 5000 when lighting talent. “Obviously we wanted our star to look soft and beautiful, and we were never lighting directly. I would often shoot at ISO 5000 and bounce light multiple times, off one white card to another, then directing through a diffusion frame. I can’t imagine working that way with another camera. It essentially changed the way I light.
“That’s the greatest gift of the VariCam: the impetus to drop old habits, reinvent techniques and redefine who you are as an artist,” he concludes. “It’s wonderful and exciting to look at your craft through a different prism.”