Lucky 8 TV shoots Season 2 of Science ‘Secrets of the Underground’ with VariCam LT 4K Cinema Camcorders


Series hosted by biologist Rob Nelson and geophysicist Stefan Burns uses cutting-edge technology—LIDAR, ground-penetrating radar and 3D imaging—and research to shed new light on famous subterranean mysteries

Last Updated: October 23, 2017 4:02 pm GMT
(Newark, NJ--October 23, 2017) Production company Lucky 8 TV (60 Days In, The Real Story with María Elena Salinas) has employed Panasonic VariCam LT 4K cinema camcorders to shoot season two of Science Channel original series “Secrets of the Underground.” The second season premieres Saturday, October 28 at 10pm ET/PT.

Left to right, Camera operator Ben Sidoti, DP Isaac Mathes, series' hosts Rob Nelson and Stefan Burns

The series is hosted by biologist Rob Nelson and geophysicist Stefan Burns, who use cutting-edge technology—LIDAR, ground-penetrating radar and 3D imaging—and research to shed new light on famous subterranean mysteries. The upcoming season will take viewers around the world on Indiana Jones-like adventures, as Nelson and Burns search for the infamous “Nazi gold train” amidst underground tunnels in Poland, travel to Italy’s Etna and Vesuvius volcanos to assess when they might next erupt, and venture to Israel to investigate King Solomon’s fabled mines and Jerusalem’s missing temple treasures, among other journeys.

Isaac Mathes, visual director at Lucky 8 and director of photography on “Secrets of the Underground,” said two of the company’s six VariCam LTs are assigned as A and B cameras on the series. Mathes operates one of the LTs alongside camera operator Benjamin Sidoti, with most of the camerawork executed handheld.

“Our primary locations are caves, tunnels, caverns, cisterns—if it’s underground, we’ve probably been there,” Mathes said. “What characterizes all these sites is that there’s not much light, so the LT’s native ISO5000 was the deciding factor in switching up cameras this season. Now we have the option to either shoot at ISO5000, or stay at ISO800 and seamlessly dial up to ISO2500.”

“We’re able to shoot underground scenes lit solely by subjects’ flashlights or chinks in a wall, rarely deploying the battery-operated LED lights that we needed throughout season one,” he added.

DP Isaac Mathes (in 114 F degree heat)

Mathes characterizes “Secrets of the Underground” as a run-and-gun non-fiction series where travelogue meets science. “We’re working on a tight schedule (eight one-hours episodes are being shot in roughly 12 weeks), and we’re being challenged to work quickly in sensitive locations,” he said. “We don’t want to disturb the ground, but we want to keep shooting, regardless of conditions. With the LTs, we’re able to work with available and natural light, and the camera’s small footprint allows us to be very agile. We’re seeing beautiful results.”

Mathes said that the VariCam LT’s “overall rugged build” withstood conditions, ranging from 114 degrees in the Israeli desert to extreme cold at the top of Mt. Etna, and to consistent wet terrain underground. “The LTs never malfunctioned—a real confidence-builder for a DP.”

“Overall, the camcorder has proven to be ideal for the sensitive access-driven material that Lucky 8 specializes in,” he added.

For more information about “Secrets of the Underground,” visit The Science Channel is owned by Discovery Communications.

Left and right, DP Isaac Mathes and host Rob Nelson

About Lucky 8 TV
LUCKY 8 TV is an unscripted film and television production company launched in 2014 by veteran producers and partners Kim Woodard, Greg Henry, Isaac Holub and George Kralovansky, whose combined skills fill the spectrum from blue-chip documentary to access-driven journalism, in genres spanning crime, food, science and more. Series and event specials include Secrets of the Undergroundfor Science Channel; the top-rated, critically acclaimed 60 Days In, Behind Bars: Rookie Year and the upcoming Undercover Highfor A&E; The Real Story with María Elena Salinasfor ID; Releasedfor OWN;Kids BBQ Championship for Food Network; The Unknown Flag Raiser of Iwo Jima and Alaska Aircrash Investigations for Smithsonian Channel; Vinny & Ma Eat Americafor Cooking Channel; and 3 Scientists Walk Into a Bar for Weather Channel. For more information, visit

About the VariCam LT
The VariCam LT camcorder inherits the same super 35mm sensor and superb imaging capabilities that distinguish the award-winning VariCam 35, but with significant reductions in size, weight and price. Incorporating this identical imaging “DNA” in a more compact rendition, the VariCam LT delivers 14+ stops of dynamic range with V-Log, and the esteemed cinematic VariCam image quality and color science, as well as the VariCam 35's breakout innovation, dual native ISOs of 800/5000. Weighing just under six pounds and having superior capability to similar sized cameras, the VariCam LT is the ideal camera for handheld, SteadiCam, jib, crane, drone, gimbal and overall cinema verité work. The VariCam LT offers a host of new features including an EF lens mount, hot swappable batteries, IR shooting capability, a 23.98 PsF output, cinema style file naming, and image presets such as scene files.

For more information about Panasonic VariCam cinema and high-speed cameras, visit, or contact Panasonic at 877-803-8492.

Panasonic Media Entertainment Company
Panasonic Media Entertainment Company specializes in creating technology solutions for the entertainment, integrated resorts, sports, and professional AV markets including house of worship, education, broadcast and cinema. The company’s customized systems and technologies incorporate high-performance projectors and professional displays; large screen LED video displays; broadcast, cinema and pro video equipment; professional audio systems, and energy-saving lighting equipment. A division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, Panasonic Media Entertainment Company is based in Newark, NJ, with offices in Denver, CO; Los Angeles, CA; Orlando, FL; and Coppell, TX.

About Panasonic Corporation of North America
Newark, NJ-based Panasonic Corporation of North America is a leading technology partner to businesses, government agencies and consumers across the region. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation, and leverages its strengths in immersive entertainment, sustainable energy, automated supply chains and connected mobility to provide integrated solutions for B2B customers. Panasonic was featured in Fortune Magazine’s 2016 ranking of 50 companies that are changing the world and doing well by doing good. Specifically cited were its smart and sustainable technologies, including its contributions to smart cities and the electric vehicle revolution. Learn more about Panasonic’s ideas and innovations at

Learn more about Panasonic at

Photos courtesy of Lucky 8 TV


© 2020 All Rights Reserved