NAB 2013: Panasonic
Panasonic came to NAB 2013 with the third generation of its VariCam and the first to incorporate the company's new AVC-ULTRA family of video codecs. This new VariCam, which retains its familiar EFP body style, features three full 1920 x 1080p wide dynamic range MOS imagers for native 1080/60p recording/operation, an RGB imager/prism system that provides full resolution color, and a 2/3" B4 lens mount for use of native format prime lenses and servo zooms. Other features include real-time high frame rate, off-speed recording to 120fps in full 1080p (in AVC-Intra Class100), a wide dynamic range, 24-bit LPCM audio, a Color Management System, and a new Log functionality for more creative control over image contrast. The new VariCam, which will offer both standard P2 and Panasonic's new microP2 slots, is slated for release in early 2014; price has not yet been determined.
Panasonic's NAB 2013 booth. © PanasonicProAV. All rights reserved.
Recording formats supported by the new VariCam include AVC-Intra Class100 (˜up to 120p), AVC-Intra Class200 (up to 60p) and AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 (up to 30p). AVC-Intra Class4:4:4 supports 12-bit recording for 1080p content and is aimed at high-end commercials, filmmaking, green screen and archiving. AVC-Intra Class200 recording, at twice the bit rate per frame of AVC-Intra Class100, is visually lossless, and is aimed at field capture of content for film-outs, color correction, and compositing applications.
Panasonic 3rd generation VariCam
This VariCam adds Log to the existing FilmRec, VideoRec and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS) image contrast management controls, and features Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) to minimize lateral chromatic aberrations and improve the Modulation Transfer Function (MTF) of the optical system.
Panasonic also introduced a 4K/2K monitor, the BT-4LH310, a 31-inch 4096 x 2160 resolution LCD monitor for a wide range of uses, from the video village for live viewing of 4K cameras and devices to the post production facility. The 4LH310's 4K 10-bit IPS panel offers native 4K resolution and reproduction of up to 1.07 billion colors. Also featured are multiple inputs (including HD-SDI, 3G-SDI and HDMI); support for the DCI-P3 color space; HD/SD closed captioning; 28V DC operation for field use; and a mercury-free LED backlight.
The 4LH310 provides a high contrast (1500:1), horizontally-aligned IPS panel with 178 degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles; 3D-LUT with six-pole color correction including a LUT for each signal level and 10-bit image processing to each RGB color to balance the six coordinate axes of the three primary colors (RGB) and their complementary colors (CMY). Connections include 3G/HD/SD-SDI (with BNC x 4 active loop-through) HDMI 1.4a, Disport Port1.1, and GPI inputs, as well as RS-232C and RS-485. The monitor also offers pixel-to-pixel mapping, a color audio level meter, and 59.94/50Hz compatibility. It is slated to ship in Fall 2013; price has not yet been announced.
NAB booth AVC-ULTRA display
Panasonic also introduced the AJ-PD500, its first P2 HD recorder with native AVC-ULTRA recording and built-in microP2 card slots and the first P2 deck to record in full-resolution, 10-bit 1080/60p (in AVC-Intra Class100). The PD500 offers AVC-LongG, designed for applications where file size is critical, in a selection of AVC-LongG quality levels: AVC-LongG50 (10-bit, 4:2:2), AVC-LongG25 (4:2:2, 10-bit), AVC-LongG12 (4:2:0, 8-bit) and AVC-LongG6 (4:2:0, 8-bit). AVC-Intra Class200 recording, at twice the bit rate per frame of AVC-Intra100, is visually lossless and is suitable for network-level shows, film-outs, and high-end color correction, and compositing. For high-speed file exchange, AVC-Proxy encodes are made in parallel with higher bandwidth production formats.
Panasonic AJ-PD500, their first P2 HD recorder with native AVC-ULTRA recording and built-in microP2 card slots and the first P2 deck to record in full-resolution, 10-bit 1080/60p.
The PD500 has two built-in slots for the company's new microP2 cards, two standard P2 card slots, and an SD card slot for proxy/metadata and AVCHD recording. It is 12V battery-operated, weighs under 4.5 pounds, and offers a USB 3.0 interface, four channel AES/EBU Digital audio (on BNC I/Os) and two-channel analog audio (on XLR I/Os) as well as a 3.5-inch, 16:9 LCD screen. The PD500 plays back HD/SD content automatically (without changing settings) and operates in 50Hz or 60Hz.
The PD500 will be available in Fall 2013, priced at under $14,000. The AVCHD playback option will be available when the PD500 delivers. The AVC-Intra Class200 option will be available in February 2014.
Panasonic's new UHS-II compliant memory cards, the microP2 series -- the AJ-P2M064A 64GB and AJ-P2M032A 32 GB - is available at the suggested list prices of $380 and $250, respectively. The AJ-P2AD1 microP2 adapter, also available in April, is priced at $199, and the AJ-MPD1 microP2 drive at $350. With an SD card form factor, the MicroP2 cards provide high-speed transfer and the writing assurance of all P2 frame rates, formats and codecs. The microP2 card's double-layered UHS-II interface offers transfer speeds of 2.0 Gpbs (1.7 times faster than standard P2 media, and 12x faster than ordinary SD media). Its USB 3.0 interface provides transfer speeds up to 2.0 Gbps. To use the microP2 card adapter, a firmware upgrade of current P2 hardware is required. To see the schedule for the free upgrades, click here.
microP2 series cards and adapter
Panasonic and Avid, which began in 2004 to ensure seamless file-based workflows between the P2 solid-state format and Avid's editorial products, now released the latest Avid SDK to facilitate workflows for the AVC-ULTRA codec family, including AVC-Proxy, AVC-Intra and AVC-LongG.
The AJ-PS001 and AJ-PS002 plug-ins, available in June 2013 and priced at $199 and $149 respectively, will be downloadable from the Panasonic website and come with a 30-day free trial period. AJ-PS001 allows the user to import AVC-Proxy and edit natively; edit sequence are re-linked to corresponding high-res clips automatically. AJ-PS002 allows the user to export AVC-Intra 100/50 clips, exporting either from a P2 card or a specified folder in the hard drive, and supports spanned clips. Also included are DV-to-DVCPRO HD import and export, and AVC-Intra 100/50 import capability.
Panasonic unveiled a major free firmware upgrade for the new AK-HC3800 studio camera system; the upgrade also allows the ROP to set-up and control up to 19 Panasonic PTZ cameras (such as the AW-HE120, AW-HE60H/S, and AW-HE50H/S) via IP. The free firmware upgrade will be available in April via Panasonic sales representatives
Also new is the proprietary AG-SFU603G firmware upgrade key, expanding the functionality of its AG-HPX600 P2 HD camcorder. In addition to the original development partner, LiveU, the new live uplink solution partners are AVIWEST, Streambox and TVU Networks. The partnership will provide cost effective, one-person operation of bonded cellular video transmitters that utilize multiple wireless data links to provide a remote video uplink. In addition to the SDI connection from the camcorder that feeds video into the respective cellular video transmitter, users can optionally use LiveU's LU40, AVIWEST's DMNG PRO180, Streambox's Avenir Mini or TVU Networks's TVUPack and TVUPack Mini, all via USB.
The new feature can be activated in the HPX600 with the AG-SFU603G firmware upgrade key. The feature activates a USB communication interface that allows the uplink device's "start-and-stop" to be controlled from the HPX600, and the device status to be displayed on the HPX600 viewfinder. The AG-SFU603G upgrade key is available for $300.
In conclusion, Panasonic came to NAB 2013 with a lot of news and a lot of new options. The third-generation of the very popular VariCam is great news for current VariCam users and others looking for a solid solution. I saw the 4K monitor and look forward to seeing it ship, knowing that it will play a role in the amazingly quick move to 4K production and post.
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