NAB Preview: Panasonic pushes P2 HD

Panasonic will give the P2 HD format a big push at NAB along with a number of other products that will be of interest to the sports video community, including new multi-frame rate HD POV camera for slow-motion and a low-cost camcorder for coaches and teams.

The big news is that the AJ-HPC2000 P2 tapeless camera will put the new HD format in a form factor that broadcasters will find compelling. Panasonic s first HD P2 product was the AG-HVX200 but that camera has only two card slots for 16 minutes of HD recording and also isn’t shoulder mountable, two big drawbacks for broadcasters.

The AJ-HPC2000 changes that. First, it has five hot-swappable card slots and features like pre-record so it can record as soon as it is turned on and a sixth slot for optional accessories like a proxy video encoder. It also has three HD-resolution, 2/3-inch CCDs giving users the ability to attach a number of lenses from lens makers like Canon and Fujinon.
As for processing, 14-bit A/D technology gives it the dynamic range required for low-light recording in 720p, 1080i HD or 480i formats (sensitivity is F10 at 2000 lux and it can capture images at a minimum illumination of 0.032 lux at +62dB).

With respect to connectivity it includes HD-SDI, genlock, time code, composite video, IEEE1394 (AVC), and USB 2.0. Four channels of uncompressed audio are supported with XLRs, stereo front mic, and Unislot wireless mic connections.
Tapeless Bridge
Another new HD product is the AJ-HPS1500 solid state recorder/player that serves as a bridge between SD and HD material as it can downconvert and upconvert recorded material. The unit has a VTR-like control panel with jog/shuttle dial, a video encoder adjustment control, and playlist making and playback capabilities (a 3.5-inch LCD screen is included for browsing and selecting clips). Five card slots and two slots for removable hard disk drives (usable as an economical archive, for real-time data transfer, or editing functions) are standard along with Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, IEEE-1394 (AVC), and HD-SDI as well as SD-SDI input.

Standard A/V outputs/inputs on the AJ-HPS1500 include: analog component, composite and reference video, digital audio (AES/EBU Ch1 Ch8), analog audio (XLR, Ch1 Ch2), monitor out, and time code in/output. Remote control can be accomplished via RS-422A, RS-232C and GPI.

Mobile Recorder
Panasonic is also looking to meet mobile production demands with the AJ-HPM100 mobile recorder/player, a fully equipped unit with a 9-inch widescreen LCD monitor, a six-slot P2 drive, an SD card slot, a jog/shuttle dial, function buttons, stereo speakers and AC/DC operation. It records in DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and can upconvert and downconvert between standard and HD formats. With 8GB cards in the six P2 slots, the AJ-HPM100 can record for 192 minutes in DVCPRO, 96 minutes in DVCPRO50, and 48 minutes in 1080i and 720p.

Other features include IEEE 1394 (AVC) and USB 2.0 interfaces, RS-422 for remote control, an array of input/outputs including switchable HD/SD SDIs, analog composite, analog HD component, analog 4-channel audio, time code and analog HD component output.
The final P2 HD intro is the AJ-PCD20, an internal/external drive that is both Windows and Mac compatible and designed to eliminate the need to digitize content before editing. A user can mount five 8 GB P2 cards (containing up to 160 minutes of recordings in DVCPRO, 80 minutes in DVCPRO50 and 40 minutes in DVCPRO HD) at the same time and have access to the contents on all five cards for continuous editing of recorded clips in sequence.
As an internal drive, the AJ-PCD20 installs in standard PC type 5.25-inch bay drive enclosures and, through its high-speed USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394b interfaces, connects to the host computer, and through that computer to a television station s local area network (LAN). For in-the-field use, the AJ-PCD20 serves as a stand-alone external drive and teams with a notebook PC or Mac PowerBook for editing and playback. The drive offers Windows 2000/XP and Mac OS X compatibility.
All the products will be available in the fourth quarter of 2006 with the exception of the internal/external drive which will be available in July. Pricing will be announced at the NAB show in April.

POV goes Slo-Mo
Panasonic is also giving sportscasters who rely on POV cameras a new option with the AK-HC1500, a 3.3-pound camera that is multi-format and also has variable frame rate functionality and cine gamma curves. Among its features are three 2/3-inch IT-CCDs, 14-bit A/D converter and digital signal processor. Sensitivity is F10.0 at 2000 lux and a smear level of less than -130 dB. It also uses CCD accumulation and horizontal/vertical addition to create a gain increase of up to +68 dB (with a minimum illumination of 0.015 dB).

The AK-HC1500 offers both 1080 (60i/59.94i, 50i, 30p, 26p/24p) and 720 (60p, 59.94p/50p) high definition output. The camera has a wide range of variable frame rates (4-fps to 60-fps in single-frame increments) for overcranked and undercranked off-speed in-camera effects, and its CineGamma curve reproduces images that closely match the latitude of film stocks.

The remotely-controllable AK-HC1500 is compatible with Panasonic s comprehensive line of indoor and outdoor pan-tilt heads, pan-tilt controllers, and camera control units. Also helpful to sportscasters is a rear option slot for expansion items like a downconverter or analog output unit.

Other key features include a standard HD SDI output; a 12-axis color correction circuit for fine adjustment of saturation and hue; an Electronic Extender for magnifying the image by 2X; genlock; DC (+12V) operation; a mini 15-pin connector; tally function; and iris and zoom/focus controls. The camera has a low power consumption of about 18 watts and compact footprint of 3.5 W x 4.6 H x 6.2 D. Expect it to be available next month for $19,950.

New 26-inch LCD monitor
Also new is a 26-inch production-quality LCD monitor for use in mobile production trucks or broadcast facilities. The BT-LH2600W has two auto-switching SDI/HD-SDI inputs and an image processing circuit that converts interlaced into progressive signals with no visible delays, according to Panasonic. It also has a Waveform Monitor that graphically displays luminance levels from zero to 108 IRE in any of the monitor s four corners; and a Split Screen/Freeze Frame function for scene comparison and critical color matching (live input vs. freeze frame).
Other features include a resolution of 1366×768, pixel mapping of any of five areas of the screen for camera focusing, audio level meters for up to eight channels superimposed and translucent on the screen, and an 80% (of 4:3) safe-area frame marker in 16:9 mode. Contrast ratio is 700:1..
In addition to its dual SDI inputs the monitor is equipped with one SDI output and component (Y/Pb/Pr), PC RGB, Y/C and composite inputs/outputs. Expect it to be available in June for $4,950.

Coaching advantage
Finally, Panasonic introduced the AG-DVC20 3-CCD mini-DV camcorder which is ideal for coaches and trainers. It weighs just 4.4 pounds in full operating condition and has three 460,000-pixel CCDs and an optical 10x zoom with Electric Image Stabilizer to compensate for jitter and vibration. Other key features include an IEEE 1394 DV interface for PC-based NLE systems, Color Night View that permits viewing at a minimum illumination of 0 lux, and a six-language menu.
The 8-bit digital recording system also has a 16-bit digital audio system (48-kHz/16-bit, 2-channel recording), 14 shutter speeds (from 1/60 to 1/8,000 sec.), a 2.5-inch color LCD monitor and a 1/3-inch color electronic viewfinder. It will be available in June at the suggested list price of $1,850.