Lincoln U’s New Production Studios Stacked with Panasonic Equipment

The Mass Communications at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University has installed two new video studios designed and implemented by systems integrator Visual Sound and outfitted with a host of Panasonic equipment.  The studios feature four Panasonic native 1080i AK-HC3500 2/3” 2.2M 3-CCD HD cameras, AV-HS450N and AV-HS400A multi-format HD/SD live switchers, four AJ-HPM110 P2 Mobile HD recorder/players and four AJ-HPG20 P2 Portable recorders, along with requisite accessories and lenses.

The nation’s first historically Black University, Lincoln U currently sports an enrollment of approximately 2,000 students and has during its 156-year history educated a remarkable number of luminaries, a short list of whom includes Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall,

“Dr. Ivory Nelson (the university’s president) was committed to creating production studios where students could work with equipment on a par with that used by leading-edge television stations,” says Jim Ritz, Visual Sound’s Chief Engineer on the project. “Lincoln U. is within an hour of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Wilmington, and its video suites would be the envy of broadcasters in any of those cities and beyond.”

The campus’ Ware Center for the Fine Arts, which showcases the work of the university’s music, visual arts, and theater students, has a 135-seat auditorium that is equipped with three AG-HPX500 P2 HD camcorders in studio configuration, plus two AK-HC1500G cameras with two AW-PH405 pan tilts and an AW-RP400 controller, along with an HS400A HD/SD switcher in the control room.  The Ware Center system also includes three AJ-HPM110 P2 Mobile HD recorder/players.

“Dr. Nelson envisions a national reputation for our mass communications discipline, and wants our students to be able to develop the latest practical skills as well as amass academic knowledge,” says Ashley Sims, Media Director for Lincoln U.’s Media Center, located in the Student Union Building. “The upgrades in the Ware Center turn that space in a laboratory for our broadcast students as well.”

Sims explained that production studios A and B, located in the Media Center, are each equipped with two HC3500 studio cameras. The HC3500, Panasonic’s most advanced studio camera, incorporates exclusive image processing and color reproduction functions for high quality 1080/59.94i and 1080/50i image acquisition.

All the cameras are outfitted with studio lenses, AK-HVF931A color viewfinders, and HD-SDI cards for 1080i output. The studios are used for classroom studies and productions, and to produce content for the university’s closed circuit television network. Studio A contains an interview set, and is also used for weather reports and green screen work. Studio B is a conventional news set. Most material is pre-recorded for later airing on the campus network.

Each studio is assigned two HPG20 P2 Portables used as dedicated recorders for the HC3500 cameras and two HPM110 P2 Mobiles. In each space, one P2 Mobile is used to record the output of the switcher with effects; the second P2 Mobile is used to record a clean feed from the switcher for subsequent post-production.

The studios share a control room, with the HS400A assigned to Studio A and HS450N assigned to Studio B. The control room is essentially split down the middle, providing common assets but complete autonomy to the studios as well.

“The studios can operate as discrete production spaces, or we can combine the recording assets of both rooms under the control of the HS450N switcher,” Sims says.

The production studios have been up and running since the beginning of the year, while the installation of Panasonic gear in the Ware Center was completed prior to the start of the 2009-10 school year. There, HPX500 P2 HD camcorders are utilized to record theatrical and musical performances by students, guest artists, panel debates, and other campus presentations. The material is alternatively broadcast on the campus TV network, stored in the university archives, and made available to alumni on DVD.

The HPX500s are used with studio-style lenses, AK-HVF931A color viewfinders and AJ-RC10G remote control units. Sims has personal experience with the Ware Center set-up, having begun to shoot a documentary about Lincoln alumni there.

“The HPX500 image quality is excellent, and it’s very easy for our students to shoot and learn on the camcorders,” she says. “The Panasonic equipment throughout the campus is already meeting our objectives of being eminently ‘teachable’ and easy to grasp. The career preparation for our broadcast students is invaluable and, courtesy of their work with the Panasonic gear, they will have reels of the highest quality to show prospective employers.”

Sims added that the production studios will also be deployed for university business, to shoot commercials, PSAs, and recruitment videos, for example. She said that university alumni will also have access to the studios for business use.

“The fact that Lincoln can combine all of its recording capabilities is our value-added contribution,” says Visual Sound’s Ritz. “The university is wired with two-way fiber optics, and capable of tapping disparate assets to cover larger, campus-wide activities. The large control room in the production studios can draw HD video from the Ware Center, even from the university’s boardroom, and ultimately will be able to rout video from the campus’ International Cultural Center and athletic stadium, both of which are scheduled for AV upgrades. We made every effort to future-proof the Lincoln installation, and Panasonic made that easy for us.