Trent McNelly, Director of Engineering, KTVA Television /
04.11.2014 02:00 AM
Panasonic AG-HPX600s Deliver News at KTVA

Trent McNelly

ANCHORAGE—KTVA, a Denali Media Group property, is the Anchorage CBS affiliate, with our market encompassing the entire state. To put that into perspective, it’s equivalent to a Midwestern station with coverage from Chicago to Texas.

Last year, Denali purchased 17 Panasonic AG-HPX600 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders for ENG and nine AK-HC1500G HD cameras for studio use at KTVA. After a total transition to HD news, we’ve been on the air with the gear now for three months. We’ve assigned 16 HPX600s to the ENG department and one is used for commercial production. The HC1500Gs are used in our primary studio and a smaller newsroom set.

We chose the HPX600s after a thorough shoot-out with competitive camcorders. We observed that the HPX600s excelled in low-light conditions, color rendering and overall feature set and workflow. The camcorders are codec-friendly, with both AVC-Intra and DVCPRO HD available, and we’ve been using 1080i DVCPRO HD for our news coverage.

The AG-HPX600 is a 2/3-inch-imager shoulder-type of camera that accommodates a wide variety of interchangeable lenses. Its compact body provides superior mobility and has the distinction of tipping the scales with the industry’s lowest weight—approximately 6.2 pounds for the main unit. The camera also has a very low power consumption—just 18 Watts.

We produce 17 live news hours weekly and each of our 10 news photographers is outfitted with an HPX600, as is each of our microwave and satellite trucks. Currently, we have a crew in Juneau for the 90-day legislative session; by summer we’re planning a full-time presence in Juneau, the state capital.

Some of the major events we’ve covered recently have included a remote plane crash and the Great Alaska Shootout, an NCAA Division I basketball tournament. As I write this we’re days away from our all-out coverage of the epic Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. We’ll have 11 cameras at the start of the race, which originates here in Anchorage, three along the trail, and five at the finish in Nome. The Iditarod organization itself has shot in P2 for a decade and is pleased that we’ll have interchangeable files this year. One of the producers mentioned that during the past 10 years, the cold weather has taken its toll on people, but the cameras have never quit.

All of our photographers have told me that HPX600 operation was very easy to learn and that they’re really happy about the camera’s robustness, long battery life and indestructible media. And here in Alaska, it’s hard to overstate the benefits of low-light performance and light weight.

Our reporters also appreciate that the HPX600s are outfitted with wireless streaming as this allows proxy files to be streamed or viewed via a standard web browser on a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone. This feature has allowed our reporters to view footage on their iPhones and iPads at the same time the photographers are shooting in a courtroom or other remote location. The reporters can also add metadata to the streamed files as they’re viewing them.

Trent McNelly has been in broadcasting for 32 years and was the first employee hired by Denali Media in 2012. He may be contacted at

For additional information, contact Panasonic Professional Video Products at 877-803-8492 or visit

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