Panasonic Ak-UC4000 4K Camera Records 20th Season of ‘Divorce Court’

For its 20th “Platinum” season, Divorce Court — television’s longest running court program — has moved across the country to Atlanta’s Tyler Perry Studios, and is being shot live-to-tape with Panasonic’s new AK-UC4000 4K/HD HDR-capable camera systems.

The current edition of Divorce Court premiered in September 1999, and is conducted as an arbitration-based reality court show presided over by Lynn Toler, a former municipal court judge. The series is produced by Lincolnwood Drive and distributed by 20th Television.

Six UC4000 cameras, along with the model’s companion AK-UCU600 camera control unit, are utilized on this season’s production, which began over the summer and will continue through most of the fall. Episodes of the 20th anniversary season are already in syndication. According to the series’ longtime director, Eddie October, “During this milestone season, we’re excited to show off our new set and new look, and these Panasonic cameras really make it look amazing — they’ve raised the bar.”

Lincolnwood Drive rented the camera packages from TV Pro Gear (Glendale, CA), whose Senior Vice President Ivan Gonzalez is the liaison with the production. “Divorce Court 2018 has a brand new white set, it does not look like your average courthouse,” Gonzalez noted. “The cameras look amazing in low light — I was a bit anxious about the white set and talent but the UC4000 is able to isolate the colors without bleeding or bounce on the white.”

He added, “The production is shooting at 1080i 59.94; we do live to tape and iso all of the cameras for post to add graphics or fix minor issues.”

Emmy Award-winning Lighting Designer Jeff Calderon, Vice-President of Academy Lighting Consultants (Burbank, CA) — who is commemorating his own and his company’s 20th season with the show — explained that, in terms of camera placement, one UC4000 is locked-off on the show’s bailiff, one camera is placed on a jib for variety shots, three cameras are outfitted with long lenses to cover the judge and litigants, and the sixth camera is utilized for “director’s choice,” e.g., zooms, relationship shots, witness close-ups.

Calderon said, “We typically shoot 10 cases a day, and the UC4000s are certainly up to that demanding schedule. The cameras performed well right out of the box and beautifully complement our new all-LED lighting rig. We are going for the warmer colors on the new white set so we shoot and light the set at daylight color temperature. This helps those warmer ambers really pop on the set without sacrificing any of the warm close-ups that have been a signature look for the show. I couldn’t be happier with these new cameras.”

He continued, “The UC4000s are very quiet in terms of video noise, which has given us the ability to freely vary gain against iris settings in looking for our desired depths of field.”

Unlike other native 4K Cameras, the UC4000 does not suffer from a loss of sensitivity and dynamic range from reduced pixel size (even shooting HD), because the camera resizes the 2/3” 4K Image to a large 4.4K cinema style sensor.

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