KRGV Upgrades With Panasonic

WESLACO, TEXAS—As Operations Manager for KRGV-TV, the ABC affiliate serving the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, I recently supervised the complete retooling of our ENG fleet of cameras. We had previously used the Panasonic AJ-HPX2700—an earlier generation P2 HD camcorder that served us well for close to a decade—to produce the station’s seven hours of local news coverage on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

Now, our 16 full and part-time photographers are outfitted with 10 Panasonic AJ-PX5000G 2/3-inch shoulder-mount and six AJ-PX270 1/3-inch handheld P2 HD camcorders. The PX5000 is the flagship model for Panasonic’s series of AVC-ULTRA camcorders with built-in wireless/wired streaming capabilities. The PX270 is part of the series, so the two models share much of their basic technology: both are AVCULTRA capable, with the same recording formats, codec and file structure.

Reporter Leslie Aguilar and Chief Photographer Arturo Vargas shoot on location; the Panasonic cameras feature built-in wired streaming.

The 2/3-inch PX5000G is our primary camera and for the time being we are repurposing the glass we used with the HPX2700s, with the intent to purchase new lenses next year. Each of our full-time photographers is assigned their own PX5000 or PX270 and takes his camcorder and vehicle home after a shift. Our market encompasses four sprawling south Texas counties, with bureaus in McAllen and Brownsville in addition to our home studio in Weslaco.

Compared to our older P2 HD camcorders, these latest cameras come with new features that are proving quite useful: microP2 recording, with the microP2 cards offering smaller size and lower cost compared to a standard P2 card; lighter weight, even in the case of the PX5000 shoulder-mount; and, perhaps the most beneficial, the variety of compression choices within AVC-ULTRA, especially the range of AVC-LongG formats.

Our main recording format is AVC-Intra 100/720p, but often when shooting out-of-town or capturing long interviews, our photographers appreciate the flexibility of switching to AVC-LongG, which retains 10- bit, 4:2:2 sampling but in a much smaller file size, maximizing recording capacity and transfer times while maintaining broadcast-level video quality. In a pinch, the photographer can even elect to record AVC-LongG on the SD card slot.

With built-in wired streaming, the AVCULTRA camcorders are totally compatible with our ENG workflow. We simply send video out from the cameras over HD-SDI to our Dejero EnGo and Teradek Beam and Bolt mobile transmitters for wireless point-to-point transfer. Our NLE platform is EDIUS Pro.

There was no learning curve for our veteran photographers with the new gear, they showed immediate enthusiasm over the improved image quality on the cameras and reduced wear-and-tear on themselves thanks to the lighter weight. They have even conveyed that enthusiasm to our viewing audience, talking about “working with new technology,” in our “Photographer’s Perspective” segments, a popular feature of our Sunday evening newscast.

Israel Alfaro is the operations manager for KRGV-TV; reach him

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