Cincinnati Bengals Embrace Panasonic P2 for Game-day Video Needs

This season, the
NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals have upgraded video acquisition for its coaching staff
by assigning the critical task to four Panasonic P2 HD solid-state camcorders.
Game-day video for analysis and league exchange is shot with two AJ-HPX2000 2/3-inch
3-CCD P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders, and the team’s weekly practices are shot
with two AG-HPX170 1/3-inch 3-CCD P2 HD handheld camcorders.
“Our expectations for the P2
cameras, wholly realized, is that they would improve image quality and make our
workflow much more efficient,” says Bengals’ video director Travis Brammer.
“Moreover, the NFL isn’t far from standardizing on HD for all video exchange,
and once that happens we’ll be ready with these
camcorders.”
Currently, the NFL stipulates that
teams exchange video shot only in 480i/60i, so the Bengals are acquiring in
DVCPRO.
During Wednesday through Friday
in-season practices at the Bengals’ Paul Brown Stadium, the video production
team typically shoots with the two HPX170s, with videographers Ricky Palmer and
Richard Jones positioned on hydraulic lifts shooting wide-angle side line and
end zone footage. Occasionally, a third camera (an HPX2000) is also used at
practices; in these instances, the HPX2000 is substituted for an HPX170 on one
of the lifts, and an HPX170 is used handheld on the field.
All the cameras are equipped with
16GB P2 cards. Standard operating procedure is to rotate cards halfway through
practice, which gives the producers a jumpstart on editing (The Bengals
organization is standardized on DVSport GameDay, a football-specific digital
video editing and data analysis software package). Brammer purchased two
AJ-PCD20 P2 five-slot drives for high-speed ingest into team desktop
computers.
“P2 eliminates the need for any
intermediate deck and the time required for content ingest,” explains Brammer. “The
format allows direct edits, with no need for digitizing before editing. By the
time we wrap up a practice, coaches can be viewing footage already edited
according to their respective specialties.”
Brammer and his colleague Kent
Stearman shoot Bengals’ home and away games with the HPX2000s. The two standard
angles are a high 50-yard-line shot taken from the top of the stadium, and an
end-zone shot taken from a box.
“The P2 cameras have been a major
advantage on the road,” Brammer noted. “While we’re shooting, we can shot mark
the video and roughly organize it into offensive, defensive and specialty plays.
We’re typically editing the game on laptops during our bus ride to the airport,
and the coaches are watching the video on the plane ride
home.”
The Bengals’ coaching staff numbers
18, but Brammer says more than 30 additional clients (scouts, players,
management) view practice and game-day video. P2’s fast, file-based workflow has
streamlined and expedited the process of sending game videos, on hard drives, to
the Bengals’ next three opponents as well as to the NFL Dub
Center in New Jersey, where the
videos are made available to the entire league.
The team’s HPX2000s are equipped
with Fujinon XA17x7.6 HD lenses, and Fujinon pistol-grip remote
controls.
“The HPX2000s have responded
beautifully to discrepancies in stadium lighting, and deliver a very
true-to-life look,” Brammer says.
“We encountered a lot of shadows and contrasting lights at the Dallas and Houston away games, and the cameras produced
very good images.”
“All the cameras have performed very
well in cold weather,” he adds.
“We are entirely enthusiastic about
the performance of the P2 HD cameras,” Brammer says. “They’ve hit a sweet spot
for us, addressing our management’s interest in pending HD production while at
the same time adding a tremendous amount of immediate value for our coaches and
production staff.”