CSVA Report: Panasonic P2 Finds Believers in College Coaching Ranks

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Panasonic Broadcast continues to gain traction in the collegiate sports video coordinator market, as shown by a busy exhibit at the Collegiate Sports Video Association (CSVA) convention this week in Jacksonville, FL. And the company’s newest products, including the AV-HS400 production switcher and a new lineup of low-cost P2 solid-state recording cards, promise to increase that traction.

“For the last three or four years we’ve made a lot of headway with P2 because it’s a solid format and works really well with the software analysis tools,” says Domenic Cicchetti, Panasonic Broadcast Television Systems sports business development manager. “File-based acquisition systems like P2 are reliant on software vendors to bring the product to market.”

With edit systems from companies like DV Sport, Game Plan, and others supporting P2 video coordinators who work for football and basketball coaches can safely transition to tapeless without negatively impacting their workflow. And now Panasonic offers the “E” Series of P2 cards that not only serve workflow needs but can also help athletic program meet budget needs.

“Not a lot of the schools are addressing their long-term archiving needs and while P2 is a bit-bucket product we’ve slashed the price in half so a 64 GB P2 card is less than $1,000,” says Cicchetti. “Moore’s law figures into that price reduction but we’ve also designed the card slightly differently so it won’t have an infinite number of recording cycles. Instead it has an indicator that works like a gas gauge and lets the user know when it needs to be replaced.” The typical life cycle for the card is expected to be five years.

Panasonic also introduced a new camera, the AG-HPX300 that has 2.2 million pixel CMOS imagers and can record 1080i or 720p as well as SD content. Formats supported include AVC-Intra, DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO50, DVCPRO, and DV. “It’s great for recording sports and also for interview and highlight shows,” says Cicchetti.

The camera meets the needs of video coordinators who find their job duties extending beyond only serving the needs of the coaches. “More and more video coordinators are also responsible for stadium video operations,” explains Cicchetti. Panasonic has also introduced two new production switchers, the AV-HS400A and AV-HS450A to serve venue facility needs.

“The AV-HS400A is an eight input switcher while the AV-HS450 has 16 inputs,” says Cicchetti. “Both are clean and easy to operate and they also have a built-in multiviewer that can divide the monitor into 10 different quadrants. Multiviewers typically cost around $7,000 so we like to joke that you get the multiviewer and the switcher is thrown in.”

Cicchetti says the switcher is ideal for moderately priced HD studios and scoreboard control room. “It also has a pan-tilt camera control system so the operator can control a camera that may be located in a lighting rig or elsewhere.”

What’s ahead for Panasonic and the college video coordinator market? With nearly all coaching video departments still working in SD there is an HD transition ahead. But Cicchetti says the P2 cameras in the market will make that transition easy. “We don’t see the industry going HD anytime soon as they’re shooting in 480p right not,” he explains. “But the cameras are switchable to 720p and 1080i.”

The challenge in going HD is not serving the needs of a school’s own program but rather ensuring content can be easily shared with other schools. “More and more of the schools are raging about MPEG4 as a standard format for interchange and MPEG4 files is what our AVCHD format generates.”