Panasonic VariCam HS Catches Cal Season

BERKLEY, CALIF.— The University of California Golden Bears closed out its 2016 regular football season with an exciting 36-10 win over arch-rival UCLA. Like all of our home and away games from the 2016 season, the contest was captured with Panasonic’s VariCam HS (high-speed) camera/ recorders.

At the end of the 2015 season, after close to 15 years of working with Panasonic cameras—most recently the AG-HPX500 P2 HD camcorders—we realized that we were ready for new camera/recorders.

The Cal production staff used the camera’s ENG capabilities to capture footage from the sidelines.UP TO SPEED

After a thorough evaluation of available options, we chose the VariCam HS based on our lengthy and productive collaboration with Panasonic, and, critically, because the HS gives us the ability to simultaneously record high frame rate 120fps and 1080/24p video footage with 24-bit/48 kHz LPCM audio. Prior to our investment in the VariCam HS, we required two different pieces of equipment to get that job done.

The VariCam HS uses three 1920x1080p 3MOS imagers with 14 stops of latitude. It offers a choice of recording formats: Apple ProRes 4444 and ProRes 422, and Panasonic’s AVC-ULTRA family of advanced video codecs, and features a range of high-quality recording choices including AVC-Intra Class100 (recording as 1080/24p, 25, 30p, 50 or 60p with VFR up to 240p), AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 30p/60i) and 12 bit sampled AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 (up to 30p).


Our packages (edited on Adobe Premiere Pro) can be seen on our athletics site,, and game footage is also used for recruiting and alumni videos. Throughout the season, we also prepared weekly pre-game motivational videos for the team that were very well-received. As the football season wound down, we began using the VariCam HSs for basketball coverage too.

The football program has used the same two videographers for the past 15 years, and they both like the VariCam HS’s on-the-shoulder ENG style, and the ability to manually focus and zoom. We are using expressP2 cards for high frame rate recording (above 60 fps), with ample space to record the maximum amount of slo-mo, while at the same time capturing the game in real-time on a microP2 card. Again, the chief benefit of the VariCam HS has been this ability to simultaneously capture 1080/24p game action along with beautiful super slo-mo (as well as two channels of audio, one for crowd noise, the second a radio feed).

We’ve outfitted the VariCam HS with Fujinon XA17x7.6BERM-M58B lenses with 2x extenders. A terrific asset is that we’ve been able to repurpose the same 2/3-lenses that we used with the PX500s. Another great ROI is that as the program moves into 4K, the HS’s AU-VREC1G recorder works with the VariCam 35 4K camera as well, so we’ll be in the position to switch it out.

Overall, the VariCam HS has exceeded our expectations, and we’re looking forward to digging deeper into its functionality for the 2017 football season.

Matt Fox is director of football technology at the University of California/Berkeley. Contact him

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