Panasonic Heads to NAB with Focus on Better HD, AVC Ultra Codec

Panasonic's new AJ-PX5000 AVC-Ultra camcorder offers 1080p/60 recording and much more.

Panasonic’s new AJ-PX5000 AVC-Ultra camcorder offers 1080p/60 recording and much more.

While there will be plenty of additional product introductions from Panasonic at the NAB convention in three weeks the company gave a sneak peek this week to a new ENG camera that can shoot at 1080p/60 and also detailed the latest advances in AVC-Ultra, the next-generation coded that the company hopes will meet the needs of sports and production professionals looking to deliver the ultimate in HD, 2K, and even 4K acquisition.

The AVC-Ultra codec family will include a wide range of capabilities, from low-level AVC-Proxies to AVC-LongGop at 50 Mbps (and 10-bit, 4:2:2), to the AVC-Intra recording at 10 and 50 Mbps, and then a high-end of 200 Mbps, 10-bit 4:2:2 recording and even 4:4:4 recording at 12-bit for master recording needs.

“We are adding 60 frames per second 1080p recording to our products and beyond that AVC Ultra will allow for recording at 200 Mbps, doubling the current rate of 100 Mbps,” explains Mike Bergeron, Panasonic, Media and Production Business Development manager. “Compression artifacts are like icebergs as there are ones that are not visible but will be passed on to deliverables [and will cause problems when re-encoded]. Going to do 200 Mbps is something that makes things bulletproof.”

The new AJ-PX5000 AVC-Ultra camcorder, available this fall for $28,000, is the best camcorder the company has introduced, according to Steve Cooperman, Product Manager, Panasonic System Communications Company of North America.

“It records in all formats, is switchable between 50/60 fps, and has optional Class 200 recording for higher quality video with less artifacts for true mastering needs,” he explains. “And with 2/3-inch 3-MOS sensors it has a high-quality, low-noise signal.”

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AJ-PD500 P2 recorder

One area where the camera could play a role is in up converting HD material to 2K or 4K needs.

“[The industry shot] high-quality SD and up converted to HD so it’s only logical that content shot in the highest quality HD can then be archived and up converted if needed,” he explains.

Like the current AG-HPX600, the PX5000G is “future-proofed” to provide inventive functionality and improved workflows, with additional options such as wireless metadata input and variable frame rates. The PX5000G features wireless and wired connection ability with Wi-Fi, USB and Gigabit Ethernet, including wireless control of key camera functions from a smart phone. In addition, an option will support operational integration with live video uplink transmitter devices from partners, LiveU, AVIWEST, Streambox and TVU Networks.

Weighing just over eight pounds, the PX5000G is the first P2 HD camcorder with built-in slots for the company’s new microP2 cards, which have an SD card from factor (see separate news release). The PX5000G has two microP2 slots and two standard P2 card slots, as well as an SD card slot for proxy/metadata recording.

There will also be a complementary AJ-PD500 P2 recorder, the first deck ever with native AVC-Ultra support deck. Available for $14,000, it too will support full-resolution 1080p/60 recording as well as AVC-Intra200 and AVC HD playback.

Panasonic also is rolling out a new recording form factor for P2 devices: MicroP2 cards. Available in 32GB and 64GB capacities, they have the same form factor as an SD card and slip into an adaptor that is the size of an existing P2 card so that they can be easily used with existing P2 gear. And the top operational advantage is they can transfer content at 1.7 times faster than standard P2 media. Pricing is $380 for the 64GB version and $250 for the 32 GB version and the adapters cost $199.

Panasonic is also looking beyond ENG needs and introducing version 2.0 software for the HRP200 camera control system that controls HC3800 studio cameras. Now one system can control up to 19 cameras via IP as well as lens zoom and focus while also providing 720p output from the camera control unit. It signifies a new era in Panasonic product development where IP connectivity plays an important role.

For example, IP control of robotic cameras now allows for a live preview to be viewed on a tablet and a multi-camera display allows multiple signals to be seen on the same screen. And cameras can even be controlled from a smartphone, tablet, or laptop.