ABC's New 'Castaways' Reality Series Shot on Panasonic Varicam LT

NEWARK, NJ–Nomad Entertainment shot and produced ABC’s new reality show “Castaways” on Panasonic VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorders. The contemporary action in the series was shot in a remote part of Indonesia, with the “home recall” documentary segments shot in New York, Nashville, Alabama, North Carolina, Los Angeles, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State, Las Vegas, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

The show was shot in in AVC-Intra 4:4:4 1080p. The cameras were outfitted with Fujinon Cabrio 85-300mm and Canon 17-120mm ENG-style lenses, with Sigma Primes used for some night work. The crew used 12 cameras simultaneously shooting eight hours a day, according to DP Neil Moore.

[Read: Panasonic Readies Firmware Upgrade To VariCam LT 4K Cam]

Moore had previously shot with the VariCam 35, and showrunner Grant Kahler had used the VariCam LT. “The first two weeks of production we worked with larger cameras and bigger lenses, which just wasn’t conducive to our fast, cinema vérité style,” Moore said. “The LT was a very appealing alternative, especially because of its dual 800/5000 ISOs. We had no time for lighting, and we were working with predominantly natural light with plenty of dark interiors and exteriors. The camera’s ISO 5000 setting is so clean, and you can switch easily without having to ride gain.”

Moore said he routinely used ISO800 for daytime work in Indonesia, but with a significant number of “easy clicks over” to ISO5000, for instance, for a nighttime scene lit only by firelight.

“The tropical humidity was pretty insane, but we experienced no overheating or stopped files with the LTs,” the DP added. “Beyond ruggedness and ease of use, other stand-out features of the cameras were the unique Focus Squares tool —a must, especially with the long lens work—and the on-camera control panel that can double as a monitor. The LT is, overall, a simple, intuitive camera.”

“Castaways” follows 12 diverse individuals as they’re dropped alone throughout various islets in Indonesia and challenged to survive among washed-up luggage, scattered resources and abandoned structures. It premieres Tuesday, Aug. 7 at 10 p.m. EDT on the ABC Television Network, streaming and on demand.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.