Panasonic will be pushing the P2 envelope at NAB2007 with several new camcorders and field gear; as well as a new 16 GB card and the promise of a 32 GB card by the end of the year.
Since hitting the market three years ago, the company’s tapeless, solid-state, IT-based professional production format has been adopted by more than 150 U.S. broadcasters. Within the past six months, a number of stations have adopted P2 HD, including such recent customers as Fox’s 35 owned-and-operated stations; the 15 stations in the Cox Television station group; KGTV, the ABC affiliate in San Diego; as well as cable news operations NY 1 News and Cablevision New Jersey.
In announcing the new P2 cards, the company emphasizes what it has been predicting ever since it introduced the P2 product line four years ago: that recording capacities will continue to increase as the cost of storage declines.
“A P2 HD camcorder such as our new AJ-HPX2000 with five P2 slots will be able to record up to 80 minutes of full frame rate high-definition content using five 16 GB cards,” said Robert Harris, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Broadcast. “When the 32 GB P2 card arrives by year’s end, recording capacity will double once again.”
With the new 16 GB cards now available, customers will be less motivated to remove the higher capacity cards from P2 cameras, allowing them to “close the door” on the camera slots. This will make the cameras essentially “media-less,” according to Joe Facchini, director of product marketing for Panasonic Broadcast.
“[Customers’] concern has always been the recording time and capacity of the cards,” Facchini said. “That will essentially be eclipsed in 2007.”
Those cards and the related P2 gear recently got a highly publicized stress test when camera crews used the products to provide the first ever high-definition coverage of the Iditarod trail sled race, which started in Anchorage, Alaska on March 4, with the first musher crossing the finish line in Nome on March 13.
Six video crews covered the race using 10 Panasonic P2 HD cameras, including the AJ-HPX2000 2/3-inch shoulder mount and AG-HVX200 handheld to record the 87 sled dog teams. The expected 140 hours of footage is being distributed to television stations and networks worldwide and will also be used for three one-hour documentaries for the VERSUS (formerly Outdoor Life Network) channel, as well for daily updates on the Iditarod’s official Web site, www.iditarod.com.
OTHER P2 GEAR
Back in sunny Las Vegas, Panasonic is marking NAB2007 with a new field unit for its P2 line. Dubbed the “P2 Gear,” the HPG10 is a rugged portable unit that offers back-up recording of HD and SD content for applications ranging from broadcast production to independent filmmaking. The two-pound solid-state memory card unit features a two-slot P2 card reader and is equipped with a flip-up 3.5-inch 4:3 LCD monitor and speakers for video and thumbnail clip viewing. Using the IEEE 1394 port, the battery-operated unit can be used as a backup recorder when connected to a P2 HD/SD or tape-based camera or the Focus Enhancements Firestore FS100 hard drive recorder. The unit also features an HD-SDI output, USB 2.0 component and composite (BNC) outputs.
Panasonic will also debut a new camera, the AK-HC3500, a 2/3-inch 2.2 megapixel 3-CCD camera designed for studio and EFP use. The 9.9-pound native 1080i camera features an advanced single channel transfer system and spatial offset processing for reduced aliasing and higher HD resolution. For studio use, the camera can be mounted onto an optional build-up unit with a “one touch” cable-free setup and can be removed for shoulder mount use. An SD memory card slot is included for easy storage retrieval of user and scene files.
Also new is the BT-LH80W production quality SD/HD LCD monitor for studio and field applications. The compact monitor, which doubles as an electronic viewfinder for Panasonic HD cameras, sports a 7.9-inch 16:9 screen and features the industry’s lowest delay, according to the company. This is accomplished by using an image processing circuit to convert interlaced into progressive signals within one field. It also features a built-in waveform monitor that graphically displays luminance levels from –5 to 108 IRE, as well as Diagonal Line compensation that reduces the occurrence of jagged noise in the diagonal direction for improved response.
For the film and digital cinema crowd, the company is rolling out the AJ-HDP2000 2K processor, which allows professionals to record and process pristine quality 2K and HD images to D-5 VTRs for editing, interchange and distribution.
NAB attendees will find Panasonic in its familiar locale, atop the stairs overlooking the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The 270-foot by 50-foot “booth” will house a large theater (which will showcase HD content on the company’s 103-inch plasma screens), a studio area and a new area called the “application zone.” Building on the successful response to its hands-on demos from video professionals in its booth at NAB2006, this year, Panasonic is expanding the concept to feature four rooms, each based on a theme: broadcast, independent film, post production and a general Q&A area.