As a specialist in aerial videography and owner of New Jersey-based AerialExposures.com, I recently paired my tape-based Panasonic AJ-HDX900 multiformat DVCPRO HD camcorder with the solid-state AG-HPG10 P2 Gear portable P2 recorder to shoot footage for such clients as NBC Local Media, Cunard Lines, Novartis, as well as Bravo, MTV, and the Discovery and Travel Channels.
We're based at three New Jersey airports and have aircraft that are specially equipped with multiple camera ports for aerial video and still photography. For aerial work, I use a low-cost, gyro-stabilized helicopter/aircraft camera platform and the HDX900 camera, which records on tape. Initially, I had little interest in tapeless production; my main concern was shooting in high definition.
WON OVER BY P2
Arnie Itzkowitz However, because aerial video is an area where you need a rock-solid "safety" copy and no do-overs, I began to have concerns about drop-outs and the absolute integrity of tape as a master and backup format. Panasonic suggested P2 Gear as a tapeless complement to the HDX900, and I quickly became a P2 enthusiast.
With its 3.5-inch LCD monitor, the P2 Gear offers on-the-spot playback and viewing of P2 content in multiple formats. It allows me to view and manage my recorded files in a single, small portable unit. It also serves as a backup recorder. The best part is that it allows me to take advantage of the benefits of solid-state recording while shooting with my tape-based HDX900 camera.
The first shoot where I teamed the HDX900 and P2 Gear was in covering an aerobatic demonstration featuring Britain's Royal Air Force Red Arrows. We recorded on DVCPRO HD tape and 32 GB P2 cards. I also took along Western Digital 160 GB Passport drives. The P2 Gear is able to host the USB drive, so when we landed I could copy the P2 footage onto an $80 drive and present it to my client, who in turn handed it over to the news media for immediate publicity coverage.
The P2 recorder outputs a playback signal for monitoring, so we've integrated Panasonic's BT-LH900A 8.4-inch HD production monitor into our in-flight production package. I can sit with my client and have random access to the footage I've shot moments before.
MORE RELIABLE THAN TAPE
On the ground, I make further use of the P2 Gear. As it can be connected to my PC, I use it to transfer unedited content to an external Blu-Ray burner and make DVDs for archiving, which I consider more reliable than tape.
I also use P2 Gear for data transfers into my NLE system. Not only is the P2 footage already digitized, I'm also able to import and edit natively in Avid Media Composer Version 3.0.
Depending upon the assignment, I shoot 1080i, 720p or 576i (PAL). Beyond this flexibility, I can utilize P2 Gear's HD-SDI out to cross-convert or downconvert to SD. Since I own an AJ-HD1400 DVCPRO HD tape-based deck, I can also output from the P2 Gear via HD-SDI direct to the deck, press record and make a tape.
Now tape is no longer my primary recording medium, and it gives me a comfortable feeling not to be dependent upon it any longer. I can record either DVCPRO HD tape or P2—whichever better suits the assignment—and that convenience is courtesy of P2 Gear.
Arnie Itzkowitz, a veteran in video and still photography, is the owner of AerialExposures.com, which specializes in aerial videography. He may be contacted at email@example.com.
For additional information, contact Panasonic Broadcast at 800-528-8601 or visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast.