Panasonic has announced further orders for its AJ-HDC27FE Varicam DVCPROHD camera system from leading production and rental hire companies in France, Germany and Spain as well as Russia. This follows orders just prior to IBC, from Italy, Norway and the UK including a major order from the BBC for its next natural history series, Planet Earth.

Varicam is a HD camera system with sophisticated cine gamma and variable frame rate capability producing images with the "look and feel of film". Robert Pascher, Marketing Manager, Panasonic Broadcast Europe said, "Europe is now starting to follow the great success of Varicam with cinematographers in the USA. Film, TV drama, natural history and episodic series are all starting to move to HD production and Varicam is attracting a growing following in Europe. With these latest orders, Varicam systems are now available in nearly all the key European production markets."

Two systems have been ordered by Iris Camera, part of Groupe TSF, which is a leading French film facilities and rental company with studios and offices in Paris, Cannes and Marseilles. Danys Bruyere, Technical Director of Groupe TSF and Iris Camera said that Varicam was chosen after careful evaluation of all HD cameras in the market. "We felt that Varicam produces the best filmic look of all the current HD cameras. Over 80% of our work is long form and we wanted a camera system which would be right for both TV dramas and feature films. In choosing Varicam the film record mode and off-speed capability were key factors in our decision." Iris Camera is in fact customising the cameras allowing all elements to be detachable for use in a range of camera rigs.

OVIDE BS, a leading rental company in Spain with offices both in Barcelona and Madrid, has purchased a Varicam camcorder as well as a frame rate converter for off-speed work (slow or fast motion capture). OVIDE BS was an early adopter of HD equipment over three years ago and was the first Spanish rental company to offer HD systems. Since its purchase, Varicam has been used on a feature film, commercials including one for UNICEF in Spain, music video and documentary. "Our customers appreciate the contrast and colour reproduction of Varicam," said Ovide HD Manager, Sergi Maudet. Ovide is currently planning to purchase a second Varicam system including frame rate converter and Panasonic's recently introduced DVCPROHD VTR, the AJ-HD1700.

In Germany three Varicams have been sold by Panasonic dealers, Mediatec in Cologne and MPEC in Hamburg. One of the Varicams goes to the cameraman and director, Max Rheinlander in Cologne, who has already shot a major Formula 1 production with Varicams.

The rental house Volker Rodde in Cologne has also chosen Varicam. Volker Rodde sees a growing requirement for HD production and particularly likes the Varicam's variable frame rate and variable shutter capabilities, "operating like a conventional film camera". While in Oldenburg, Karl-Heinz Heilig, a cameraman famous for his people documentaries, who has used 16mm for many years, has now moved to Varicam, finding that conventional film is too expensive.

In Russia, UMP Studio, which is a digital cinematography pioneer, used Varicam for a short length film, Russian Arabesque, first shown at the Kinotavr film festival in Sochi. Film director, Alexander Solokha said that "we've shot in an Orthodox Church, with no filling light and the camera's performance was excellent — clear, deep and without any noise."