When NY1 News, Time Warner's 24-hour news channel for New York City, needed new camcorders for its one-person news crews, Panasonic’s hand-held AG-HVX200 DVCPRO P2 HD was the choice for fast-paced field reporting.
With news happening on every corner of the “city that never sleeps”NY1 News’ one-person reporter/video journalist crews are a common sight throughout the city (only a handful of crews are traditional two-person units). Looking for a light, compact camera to upgrade its crew’s acquisition equipment, the station selected the HVX200 because it provided the broadcast recording quality found in larger professional cameras while its compact, 5.5-pound design was perfect for the fast pace of field reporting. NY1 News purchased 24 HVX200s.
“The HVX200s are a good fit because of the nature of much of our newsgathering,” said Michael Dudley, field operations supervisor for NY1 News. “Since the reporters are also shooting their own stories, they need their gear to be as compact and lightweight as possible, without sacrificing the audiovisual quality that we would expect of our larger professional cameras.”
“The HVX200 is small enough to have the advantages of a being hand-held, but has enough mass to make even a veteran TV photographer feel confident with the weight of it in his hands,” he continued. “The primary photographic controls on the HVX200 are easily accessible and intuitive to use, and the huge number of format options make the camera viable for a staggering number of applications. The quality of its HD image cannot be overstated; it is simply amazing. It is definitely everything it claims to be.”
The HVX200 uniquely combines multiple high definition and standard definition formats, multiple recording modes and variable frame rates, and the vast benefits of P2 solid-state memory recording in a rugged, compact design. The DVCPRO HD P2 camcorder offers production-quality HD with independent intra-frame encoding, 4:2:2 color sampling, and less compression, making HD content easier and faster to edit and more able to stand up to image compositing versus long GOP MPEG-2 systems.
“The auto functions (focus, iris, white balance) on the HVX200 seem to be far more advanced than the auto functions I’ve used on other similar cameras,”Dudley said. “Normally, I am rather hesitant to use an auto-iris or auto-tracking white balance, but I must say that both of these functions are amazingly accurate and reliable on the HVX200. Our reporters have said many times that they are enjoying using these auto-features, knowing that the picture will always look good.”
Dudley trains the video journalists on all new camera equipment, including the HVX200 camcorders as well as several shoulder-mount AJ-SPX800 DVCPRO P2 camcorders. The reporters record with 4GB P2 cards and are currently shooting 25Mbps DVCPRO. The news footage is then ingested as AVI files into the channel’s main server using the P2 drive (AJ-PCD20) connected to a Liquid ingest station. The station uses Pinnacle Vortex for editing and plays back the finished news story to air directly from the server.
Panasonic’s P2 technology, Dudley said, has brought speed and more efficiency to the channel’s workflow.
“We initially used P2 decks similar to videotape decks to help us with the transition; we would go through the footage like tape,”said Dudley. “Now, we send reporters out with laptops with news editing software.”
“For ingesting, we use the P2 Card Reader (AJ-PCD10),”he added. “The reader is connected to a Pinnacle Liquid Edition software station, which ingests the data at about four times real speed and converts it to AVI video, which then goes directly to our main server. It’s much faster than our older process.”
“Raw video from the P2 cards is archived to DVDs, so that we can keep all of the metadata information from the P2 cards themselves,”Dudley explained. “The P2 cards are then formatted and put back into rotation.”
“We keep a daily rundown of which stories are running and which footage needs to be archived, this helps us keep our library manageable,” said Dudley. “We plug the cards we need to archive into a P2 drive imbedded in a PC and transfer the metadata to DVDs, which preserve the metadata. This process is pretty simple and works very well for us.”
Although not at the stage of producing HD news broadcasts, New York 1 is already looking to the future and preparing for the transition.
“Even though we are not shooting in HD, we are definitely looking towards the future concerning our capital purchases. It is nice to know that these cameras will support so many different HD formats,” said Dudley.
The ultra-versatile HVX200 records in 1080i and 720p in production-proven 100 Mbps DVCPRO HD quality, with the ability to capture images in 21 record modes. The DVCPRO HD format offers users cost-effective, intra-frame compression, where each frame stands on its own for editing, and its full 4:2:2 color sampling allows the image to hold up under color correction. The camera records video on a P2 card as IT-friendly MXF files in 1080/60i, 30p and 24p; in 720/60p, 30p and 24p; in 50Mbps DVCPRO50 and in 25Mbps DVCPRO or DV. The HVX200 can capture fast or slow action in 720p at various frame rates—the first time this function is available in a hand-held camera. The shooting frame rate in 720p native mode can be set for any of 11 steps between 12fps and 60fps including 24fps and 30fps. For more information on the AG-HVX200, visitwww.panasonic.com/HVX200.