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Panasonic Puts AVC-Ultra Front and Center

Panasonic’s AJ-PX270 AVC Ultra camcamcorder

LAS VEGAS—Panasonic comes to the 2014 NAB Show with some major advancements and groundbreaking new products.

“Every year we announce new products,” said Steve Cooperman, Panasonic senior product manager. “Some years there’s really exciting new technology.” He said this is one of those big years for the company.

“The last couple of years, we’ve been talking about AVC-Ultra,” said Cooperman. “We’re very excited about it, it’s a super high-quality codec, both in high and low bitrate. We began shipping product with native AVC-Ultra recording last year.”

Front and center with the AVC-Ultra codec is Panasonic’s new AJ-PX270, its first AVC-Ultra handheld camcorder and designed for ENG, sports, reality and production work. Though it weighs around five pounds, “it has the type of features and qualities that you generally expect in a much larger camera,” Cooperman said.

It has a wide range of features, formats and frame rates, including 1080/24p, 30p, 60p, 720p multi-HD format and SD recording. Also, 50i, 50p, and 25p are supported by 59.94 Hz/50 Hz switching.

A pair of new models to Panasonic’s VariCam line will be introduced. “They’ve been created to fill two needs that people have been asking for,” said Cooperman.

The first is the Varicam 35, which Panasonic showed a wooden mockup of—under glass—two years ago. As a result of conversations between users and the company’s design engineers Cooperman said the feedback was clear: Customers wanted the “outstanding” color Panasonic’s Varicams are known for, with a 4K 35mm sensor that would support multiple codecs including AVC-Ultra.

Though the Varicam 35 supports Panasonic’s P2 Ultra workflow, “we also do offer a RAW workflow for those customers who truly want a full cinema workflow,” said Cooperman, “customers who want to shoot content to be filmed out and go through full color processing.” He added that the camera is designed not only for cinema and commercial production work, but can easily be incorporated into multicamera 4K production. The Varicam 35 features a modular design, with a 4K camera head attached by umbilical cord to the recorder. And it provides more than 14 stops of dynamic range, up to 120 frames per second, and can record in 4K, 2K and proxy resolution simultaneously when shooting in P2 4K Ultra.

The second new Varicam, driven by interest from the sports and nature production community, is the Varicam HS (high speed), designed to shoot full HD at up to 240 frames per second. Panasonic designed an all new, very sensitive and low noise MOS 2/3-inch imager for the HS. “This allows those customers who want long zoom lenses to have a high-quality, high-speed camera that lets you put on a long zoom lens,” said Cooperman. “And internally, it can record 12 bit 4:4:4 video on our new P2 cards.”

Like the Varicam 35, the Varicam HS has a modular design with camera head and recorder connected via umbilical cord. In fact, the exact same recorder is used for both the super 35mm and HS Varicams.

Panasonic has long been well known in the United States for the small AV-HS410 switcher, but not so for larger switchers. “However, in Japan and the Far East, Panasonic actually has the best-selling multiple M/E switcher,” said Panasonic Product Manager John Rhodes.

“What we’ve done is combine the innovative intelligence built into our HS410 switcher, with the initial capabilities and reliability of our larger 5200 and 5300 sold overseas, to design our new AV-HS6000 two M/E switcher,” he said. The HS6000 sports 32 HD-SDI inputs and two DVI-D video inputs, along with 16 outputs. Inputs and outputs both have up-conversion and color correction, “so it basically comes fully equipped with all of these features which are optional on a number of other switchers,” said Rhodes.

To simplify the learning and use of the HS6000, “we put in OLED source labeling so you can actually program the labeling on your crosspoint,” he said. “And for each M/E we have a touchscreen area, which dynamically changes depending on what operation you do.”

Finally, Panasonic will showcase the new BT-4LH310, a native cine 4K monitor with 4096 x 2160, 17:9 aspect ratio, and also displays other formats such as Quad HD, and 2K in HD. It touts wide horizontal and vertical viewing angles and a wide color gamut, rated at almost 97 percent of the DCI P3.

Panasonic will be in Booth C3607 in the Central Hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center.