NAB Show - Panasonic Promotes AVC at NAB

The ease and versatility of solid-state media coupled with the efficiencies of AVC codecs will highlight Panasonic at NAB.

Five years since the company introduced its P2 solid-state medium at NAB2003, the format has been adopted by some 800 broadcast facilities worldwide.

Just as important as the physical media is the AVC compression format that Panasonic has adopted. Based on MPEG-4/H.264 encoding, AVC takes several forms, but for its P2 professional format, Panasonic has adopted AVC-Intra (based on AVC's Intra-frame High Profile), which has about double the compression efficiency of MPEG-2. AVC-Intra provides 10-bit intraframe recording in two modes: master-quality AVC-Intra 100 and AVC-Intra 50Mbps. It is being offered alongside DVCPRO HD/50 recording in P2 HD cameras such as the AJ-HPX3000 and the AJ-HPX2000. The company has also expanded its use of another flavour of AVC, AVCHD, which uses Long GOP High Profile encoding to record to standard SD and SDHC memory cards.

Panasonic's use of AVCHD has coincided with increased support for the format. Since it was introduced on the market less than two years ago, more than 30 companies have adopted it. The company sees its implementation of AVCHD as an expansion of the use of SD media from consumer technologies into both professional and institutional markets.

The lines between professional and consumer technologies remain intact, however. While Panasonic is positioning part of its use of AVCHD as "second generation affordable HD" and a competitor to HDV, P2, on the other hand, encompasses an entire professional workflow that the company is promoting as a "media production technology."

One new product in the P2 line is the portable AJ-HPM110, a master-quality field recording and playback device.

The solid-state recorder/player, a successor to the AJ-HPM100, handles a range of HD formats including 1080p, and is as much at home out in the field or mobile production unit as it is in the studio. It records in independent frame DVCPRO HD/50/25 and DV formats as well as 10-bit, master-quality 1920x1080 AVC-Intra (with optional board), and is designed to work with any professional camera system, from tape-based digital cameras to high-end cinema cameras.

For cameras, much of Panasonic's focus, at least prior to the NAB Show, is on its AVCHD line. As a follow up to the introduction of its popular DV-based AG-DVX100 camcorder in 2007, at this year's show the company will roll out the AG-HMC150 handheld AVCHD camcorder. Panasonic has also announced that it will ship its AG-HMC70, the industry's first AVCHD shoulder-mount camcorder by April, for a suggested list price of US$2,495.