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Panasonic Clears the Path to 3D


LAS VEGAS
As one of the first companies to market 3DTV sets to consumers, Panasonic believes in simplifying the path to producing content for the emerging format and will be showcasing such tools at the NAB Show.

Panasonic’s AG-3DA1 Full HD 3D camcorder 3D has been a main focus for the company this year; at CES in January, it announced a number of 3D initiatives, including a line of plasma 3DTV sets under its Viera brand, as well as an announced partnership with DirecTV to offer a free software upgrade to customers to view three dedicated 3D channels on the DBS service starting this summer. In February it hosted a 3D pavilion at the Winter Games in Vancouver and once again was the official sponsor of production gear for the quadriennial event.

3D CAMCORDER

At NAB, expect the star of the Panasonic booth to be its new AG-3DA1, a professional quality, fully integrated Full HD 3D camcorder and the company's first dedi-cated 3D camera system. Commenting on the reaction to 3D at CES, Bob Harris, vice president of marketing and business expansion at Panasonic Broadcast ex-pressed "surprise at how incredible the demand has been from the production community for 3D tools."

Panasonic is stressing the democratization of 3D production gear. Up until now, "3D production has been complex expensive rigs that do a fabulous job," Harris said, "but the challenge was, how do you simplify this whole thing and how do you make it more affordable. Mainstream 3D production tools—this is the position we've decided to take."

At $21,000, the AG-3DA1 is expected to draw a lot of attention, though not just from the production community, Harris noted. After announcing the availability of the camera, "we started getting e-mails from government and medical organizations, wanting to purchase the product right away," he said. "3D is really broadening the way people are looking at video."

Panasonic is now accepting $1,000 deposits for the camera, which is expected to begin shipping this fall. Weighing just under 7 pounds, the AG-3DA1 is equipped with dual lenses and two full 1920x1080 2.07 megapipxel 3-MOS imagers to record 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p and 50p in AVCHD. It can record for up to 180 minutes on dual 32GB SD cards in Panasonic's professional AVCHD PH mode and offers professional interfaces including dual HD-SDI out, HDMI (version 1.4), two XLR connectors, built in stereo mic and twin lens camera remotes.

The twin lens system adopted in the camcorder's optical section allows the convergence point to be adjusted and functions for automatically correcting horizon-tal and vertical displacement are also provided.

MONITORS, P2 AND SWITCHERS

To go along with the new 3D camera, a new 3D monitor will also be launched at the show. The BT-3DL2550 is a 25.5-inch 3D LCD production monitor with full 1920x1200 resolution. The monitor can be connected directly to AG-3DA1 and other 3D cameras via HD-SDI inputs. It displays 3D content using an Xpol polarizing filter (an optical device based on regularly arranged micro-polarizers), so that content can be viewed with polarizing (passive) 3D eyeglasses. "In a production envi-ronment, we think passive lenses make a lot of sense," Harris said.

For the Panasonic P2 line, the company will debut the low-cost AJ-PCD2, a single-slot P2 solid state memory card drive. It includes two USB 2.0 cables, re-quires no separate power supply for file transfers and is compatible with Macs and PCs. The unit is available this month for MSRP$350. Also new is the AG-MSU10 P2 Media Storage Unit, a portable workflow tool that simplifies the process of backing up or aggregating P2 content to a larger removable solid state drive. Designed for field recording, the compact MSU10 includes a slot for a P2 card and a second for the AG-MBX10 removable housing that encloses a standard 2.5-inch SATA solid state drive. It features a 3.2-inch LCD screen and will ship in October.

Several new switchers will also be on tap. The compact AW-HS50 HD/SD multiformat switcher is the industry's smallest live HD switcher with a multiviewer, according to Panasonic. The IP-capable unit offers four HD/SD-SDI and one DVI-D inputs and allows users to see up to 10 images on a single display via a high-resolution output. Also debuting at the show is the AG-HMX100 multiformat HD/SD digital A/V mixer that supports 3D.

Panasonic will also debut its new "50 Series," the company's first implementation of an IP and Serial-controlled video production system. The "50 Series" in-cludes the AW-RP50 remote camera controller, the AW-HD50 multiformat HD/SD camera with an integrated pan-tilt-zoom mechanism and the AW-HS50 sub-compact live switcher with built-in multiviewer.

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.