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legal form Corporation
founding 1954
Seat Woodland Hills
Branch Film cameras

Panavision is an American camera and lens manufacturer and rental company. The company's headquarters are in Woodland Hills , California ; Panavision has 1,300 employees worldwide. Alongside ARRI, the company is one of the world's leading suppliers of analog 35mm and 65mm film cameras. They are also represented in the digital cinema camera market with their Millennium DXL2 cameras alongside competitors such as ARRI , Sony and Red .

Panavision does not offer any of its products for sale, but only rents them out through its own rental houses.


Panavision was founded in 1954 by camera technicians Robert Gottschalk and Richard Moore , originally as a manufacturer of anamorphic lenses for cinema projectors. Their first product was the Super Panatar projection lens. At that time, the cinema industry was threatened by the invention of the television. In order to set oneself apart from television, the market for films in widescreen picture format grew steadily. The Super Panatar lens was quickly followed by the improved Ultra Panatar lens. Gradually, Panavision projection lenses became the leading anamorphic system for cinema projection.

A short time later, Panavision was already experimenting with anamorphic lenses for film cameras. In 1958 they finally brought out the anamorphic Auto Panatar lenses for 35mm film cameras. Panavision received the first Academy Award for technical innovation for this invention . 14 more Academy Awards were to follow in the course of the company's history . The Filmed logo soon appeared in Panavision in the credits of many movies.

A short time later they also brought out anamorphic lenses for 65mm film cameras with the APO Panatar lenses. Panavision then also developed a system for spherical 65mm image recording called Super Panavision , which was based on the Todd-AO system.

In 1962, Panavision bought MGM's camera division and then marketed its 65mm anamorphic system as the Ultra Panavision . In the mid-1960s, Robert Gottschalk changed Panavision's business model. The company's own lenses and Mitchell film cameras (which were taken over by MGM ) were only rented from now on. From then on, Panavision built up a huge inventory of film equipment.

Panavision soon made various modifications to the Mitchell film cameras it had bought. To this day, all Panavision film cameras are based on the Mitchell gripper system.

From 1972 Panavision built its own film cameras under the name Panaflex . The cameras represented a revolution at the time. They were so quiet that no separate blimp was necessary for recordings with sound. Steven Spielberg was the first to use Panaflex cameras with his film Sugarland Express (1974).

In the course of the 1970s, various new Panaflex models followed (Panaflex X, Panaflex Lightweight, Panastar, Panaflex Gold, Panaflex G2).

Company founder Robert Gottschalk died in 1982 at the age of 64 and the company was sold to new owners. As a result, optical tests were digitized for the first time and the new Platinum camera was developed. In 1989 the new Primo lenses came onto the market.

In 1991 Panavision (two years after competitor ARRI with the Arriflex 765) tried to revive the 65mm film market. They released the new System 65 camera, but to no avail. To date, only two films have been made with the system: In a Distant Land (1992) by Ron Howard and Hamlet (1996) by Kenneth Branagh .

In 1997 the Platinum (as the flagship camera) was replaced by the new Millennium camera. The Millennium XL followed in 1999. In 2004, Panavision's last film camera followed, the Millennium XL2. At that time, digitization began in the camera market. In 2006 it was finally announced that no new film cameras would be developed in the future.

Since 1998, the American investor Ronald Owen Perelman has been the majority owner of Panavision Inc. through various intermediate companies.

Cooperation with Sony (2000–2008)

Panavision HD-900F

In 2000 Panavision began to jump on the bandwagon of digitization in the cinema. They bought Sony CineAlta HDW-F900 cameras for their rental park and modified them so that the previous film camera accessories could be used on them. They also brought out their own lenses for the camera under the name Primo Digital . The resulting system was exclusively rented under the name Panavision HD-900F . George Lucas chose the system for the production of Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002). The film is considered the first major motion picture to be filmed completely digitally. However, there were a number of technical problems with the camera and lenses during the shooting. Whereupon George Lucas ended his long-term collaboration with Panavision and decided on another Sony camera system for the next Star Wars film.

In order not to cannibalize the market for their own analog film cameras, the decision was made to offer the digital camera system for rental at a significantly higher price than the conventional analog film cameras. Other competitors gave the Sony F900 a significantly lower price. The Panavision system then failed in the market and was not a success.

Panavision Genesis

Panavision then developed its own exclusive digital cinema camera from scratch together with Sony . The resulting product, Genesis HD , was launched in 2004. Sony was responsible for the electronic part of the camera, while Panavision was responsible for the mechanical part. It was one of the first digital cinema cameras to use a Super35mm ​​image sensor, which made it possible to continue using the established 35mm film lenses. The Panavision Genesis was a great success for Panavision. Due to the resulting cost savings due to the fact that no purchase and development of film material for production was required, Panavision was able to offer the system for rental at twice the price of conventional analog film cameras. Demand for the Genesis also grew rapidly in the TV series market.

Selection of important cameramen who used the Panavision Genesis as the main camera:

Panavision ended the cooperation with Sony . As a result, Sony released the CineAlta F35 in 2008 . An electronically almost identical camera that also uses the same image sensor.

After competitors such as ARRI , RED and Sony brought more modern, more powerful and better camera systems onto the market after a few years, the Genesis was completely pushed out of the market. Due to the lack of demand, Panavision closed and discontinued all Genesis cameras in 2012. Then they announced the development of their own exclusive Panavision 65mm digital camera. However, the project failed and the camera was never ready for the market.

Panavision then concentrated for a long time on modifying and renting out its old analog film cameras and digital cameras from ARRI , RED and Sony .

Cooperation with RED Digital Cinema (since 2016): Panavision Millennium DXL / DXL2

After the cooperation with Sony ended and the in-house development of a 65mm digital camera failed, a cooperation with the US camera manufacturer RED Digital Cinema began in 2016 . Together with RED, the Panavision Millennium DXL was developed, an exclusive digital large format camera. Exclusively for hire from Panavision. The image sensor was the same Dragon VistaVision that RED had previously installed in its own cameras. As before with the cooperation with Sony, RED is responsible for the entire electronics of the camera, while Panavision designed the mechanical side and operation. In contrast to the small, modular RED cameras, the decision was made to use a large studio camera. After RED published the improved Monstro sensor 1 year later , all DXLs in the rental park were converted to the new sensor. The converted cameras were henceforth marketed as Millennium DXL 2 .

Selection of eminent cameramen who used the Panavision Millennium DXL / DXL2 as the main camera:

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Scott Kirsner: Studios Shift to Digital Movies, but Not Without Resistance . In: The New York Times . July 24, 2006, ISSN  0362-4331 ( [accessed April 19, 2020]).