Why We Used Panasonic Cameras for Dismantling Democracy


June 2, 2021

Written by guest writer Shelby Black
6.2.2021, New York

How a Set of Panasonic Cameras Helped MAKE/FILMS Create a Larger-Than-Life Three Part Docuseries

When you’re gearing up for a huge film project the tools you use are key. The brains behind the new docuseries Dismantling Democracy know this firsthand. This three part docuseries produced by MAKE/FILMS examines the origin and current state of democracy within the United States, featuring opinions from some of the country’s most respected leaders and experts. This was MAKE/FILMS’ biggest project yet, and as a dedicated team of filmmakers, they thought long and hard about what type of equipment would be the perfect fit.

“When we began planning for the project, we already owned Canon C100 cameras and were very happy with them,” says Steve Buckwalter, Director of Photography and Development at MAKE/FILMS. “However modern television production is now based around 4K resolution, and we knew that we had to upgrade. That meant looking for a camera that had a minimum codec quality and could shoot in log. Cost and size were factors as well, since we were on a small budget. It finally came down to the fact that the Panasonic EVA-1 was affordable, yet shot in a high quality codec that was Netflix approved, and yet wasn’t an excessive data load. When it came to post, the log format that Panasonic used was incredibly simple to use, it didn’t require any complicated color transformations, you could get a great image by just adding contrast.”

These cameras deliver sharp, clear, and high quality images in both photos and video while simultaneously allowing for plenty of storage space for the film. Thanks to their size, their portability allowed the MAKE/FILMS team and freelancers to easily travel from place to place with ease. Thanks to technology’s advances, now film companies and photographers alike are able to capture high-quality footage without the hassle of transporting massive equipment.

“Filming Dismantling Democracy involved a lot of travel, so knowing that we could contain our entire camera kit, with batteries and lenses included, all in one bag, was a huge part of being able to do it with the small crews that we had,” Buckwalter says.

Stacked with a team of editors, archivists, and more, Dismantling Democracy features impressive B-roll and intimate interviews with the nation’s best. Each interview is nestled in an intimate location, allowing for a complete one-on-one conversation between interviewee and camera. Expert and viewer. The image given by a panasonic camera helps paint a near-portrait style quality to each interview, perfectly framing the expert in sharp clarity while the background is filled with deep and rich tones. Whether it’s an intimate sit down interview, or an on-the-ground interview with passerbys, these cameras are designed for on the go filmmakers such as MAKE/FILMS who want to see the most high-quality product.

“As Director of Photography I had set out a goal of making every interview look interesting and unique, yet still have a consistent tone and feel,” Buckwalter explains. “The fact that the dynamic range of the camera was so wide, and that I knew I was capturing an image that was of such high quality, gave me the confidence to push the dynamics of exposure between the key and fill on the subjects as well as between the foreground and background. Over and over again, I was impressed by how the camera was able to capture the color and dynamics of the environments we were filming in, from large theaters to small glassed-in offices.”

When taking on a project as big as this one, MAKE/FILMS took into consideration several factors once deciding on the equipment including file space/storage, cost, and accessibility. In the end, they found the perfect fit in these Panasonic cameras and delivered an in depth look into the complex world of Democracy.

Dismantling Democracy is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and PBS.