NAB 2012: Panasonic
Panasonic had an extraordinarily rich year of introductions and upgrades at NAB 2012. "We have a wide range of solutions for broadcasters and content creators to create their best work," declared Vice President of Marketing Marca Armstrong. "I'd like to reintroduce you to Panasonic's commitment to content creators and distributors. Panasonic has more collaborative tools than ever before for production professionals."
John Baisley, Executive Vice President of the Media Production Services team, noted that, in January 2012, Panasonic had received its 17th Technical Emmy®, for pioneering development of solid state media. "Our NAB theme is exceptional performance for the real world," he said. "I believe our customers appreciate our having broken new ground. We are humbled and proud of the award, but we haven't stopped forging ahead."
To that end, Panasonic introduced a new series of memory cards. The microP2 card has an SD card form factor to trim costs. The simultaneous unveiling of a microP2 Card Adaptor means that the new 64GB and 32GB microP2 cards will operate in current P2 hardware, (which will require a firmware upgrade for a fee). The new microP2 card also looks forward, ensuring high-speed transfer and reliability to all P2 frame rates, formats and codecs including Panasonic's newest compression platform, up to the AVC-Intra200 mode of AVC-ULTRA. The microP2 media and microP2 Card Adapter, along with the new compression platform, will be available in 2013.
"AVC Ultra is the next leap on the path of development," said Baisley. "As a unified seamless codec based on the H.264 standard, it can be used as a solution for content delivered over a WAN to content displayed on a 4K cinema screen."
Also supporting AVC Ultra is the new AG-HPX600 P2 HD camcorder with 10-bit, 4:2:2 AVC-Intra recording. The HPX600 weighs less than seven pounds, uses low power and incorporates a newly 2/3 type MOS sensor. Panasonic manufactured the HPX600 with an upgrade path as new functionality becomes available. Future-proof options include wireless metadata input, proxy recording, and variable frame rates (available this Fall), and then AVC-ULTRA recording. The AG-HPX600 will be available in the Fall at a MSRP of less than $16,000 (body only).
Panasonic also unveiled the most recently upgraded versions of its professional AVCCAM HD camcorders, the AG-AC160A and AG-AC130A. Both cameras now feature expanded focus assist and "turbo speed" one-push auto focus function; the AC160A also incorporates acquisition in the 1080/60p and 1080/50p HD recording formats (in new PS mode). The AG-AC160A and AG-AC130A will be available in May at suggested list prices of $5,095 and $4,195, respectively. Current AC160 and AC130 owners can purchase the suite of upgrades for $300.
Baisley also mentioned the AG-AF100 camera. "It's the most affordable in its class," he noted. "Last year, we showed some footage from the camera that showed off the imagery and the interchangeable lenses." This year, Panasonic highlighted the camera by focusing on projects shot with it for the annual Shoot It. Share It contest. The Grand Prize winner was a music video by director Graham Streeter.
Vice President of Sales Joe Facchini announced a software upgrade to the AG-AF100, which adds acquisition in the 1080/60p and 1080/50p HD recording formats (in new 28Mbps PS mode), and the 2.39:1 aspect ratio marking instead of the current 2.35 marker. The AG-SFU100 software will be available in May at a suggested list price of $250. "1080P is gaining in importance," said Facchini, describing the reason for the upgrade.
In addition, Panasonic is offering HPX250 owners a free software upgrade that will enable Focus-in-Red and "Turbo One" One-Push Auto Focus functionality. These capabilities will be standard in the new AG-HPX250 and AG-AG255 in May and July, respectively. The upgrade is available here.
Panasonic also unveiled two professional high-performance monitors. Aimed at the production and broadcast markets, the BT-LH2170 is a 21.5" LCD production monitor with native 1920 x 1080 HD resolution, and advanced 3D assist ideal for 3D productions that require 3D review in the field. The BT-LH1850, an 18.5" high-performance HD/SD LCD production monitor with 1366 x 768 resolution, features HD/SD SDI and HDMI connectivity and a 3D look-up table (LUT) along with HD and SD closed caption display, and very low-power consumption.
It's also worth mentioning that Panasonic is teaming with Aframe to create the Panasonic Production Network (PPN), a cloud video production network to allow users to quickly upload and view video from dedicated cloud servers. Read more about Aframe here.
It's good to see that Panasonic is expanding and improving its successful P2 format, at the same time that it's moving forward with new technologies, compression schemes and services. The Panasonic ecosystem continues to get broader and deeper, and the company's NAB 2012 announcements are proof that its solutions are an answer to the issues that professional video creators face in today's market.
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