Meredith Adds New Panasonic Camcorders

HARTFORD, CONN.—Meredith Broadcast Group stations WFSB in Hartford/New Haven, Conn. and WSHM in Springfield, Mass., have recently upgraded ENG operations with the addition of 10 AJ-PX270 P2 HD handheld and six AG-HPX600 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorders.

As director of engineering for these sister stations, I was faced with similar situations in both markets: the P2 ENG gear at both stations was getting a bit long in tooth and we were also transitioning to HD editing on Avid NewsCutter systems in order to standardize on AVC-Intra 50 acquisition. This signaled that it was time to move away from our HPX500s and HPX170s and on to newer Panasonic products.

We settled on Panasonic’s brand new PX270 camcorders for the Springfield operation. The PX270 is the company’s first P2 HD handheld with AVC-ULTRA recording and was ideal for this station, as it has 10 multimedia journalists (MMJs) and the low cost of entry for the PX270s meant we could equip the entire staff all at once. As the MMJs had been working with HPX170s for several years, the transition to the newer camcorder took on average only about five minutes.

Cherise Leclerc, WSHM anchor and MMJ, is shown on assignment with one of the station’s new Panasonic AJ-PX270s. At WFSB we opted to go a slightly different route. The station is the market leader in local news and produces 38 hours of local news content weekly. We wanted to outfit our news photographers with as many 2/3-inch cameras as possible and this pointed us to Panasonic’s HPX600. We began our program at WFSB earlier this year to transition to the newer units, with a swapout of Panasonic HPX500s and HPX300s for the HPX600s. Currently, five of our 16 news photographers are shooting with the HPX600s and we have an additional HPX600 assigned to creative services. The station also has several MMJs who shoot with the AG-HPX250 P2 HD handheld.

We’ve barely touched the surface of the capabilities of either the PX270 or HPX600, but the WFSB staff has been getting used to the AVC-Proxy recording feature which encodes in parallel with higher-bandwidth video formats. For example, reporters at news conferences can view proxy video on their iPad and mark in metadata the segments they’re planning to use later.

Our creative services personnel have also been taking advantage of the proxy recording functionality. Our production department invests considerable resources in talent, lighting and the like, and it’s a tremendous benefit for them to be able to view the footage right on the set and know they have the product they want. The proxy feature in both the HPX600 and PX270 is a time and money-saver and we’ll certainly be using it at WSHM as well.

WFSB and WSHM are clearly different entities, serving differently sized New England markets. But the key commonalities in acquisition formats (AVC-Intra 50) and NLE platforms (Avid NewsCutter) mentioned led the way for our investment in Panasonic HPX600s and PX270s. These models are priced differently, but both deliver significant cost-efficiencies. We consider both P2 high-definition cameras important assets as WFSB and WSHM both transition to file-based news workflows.

Victor Zarrilli is director of engineering and facilities at WFSB television and has been with the station for 21 years. He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Panasonic at 877-803-8492 or