P2 Price Drop is Big News for Panasonic
Company Looks Forward to High-Bit-Rate 'AVC Ultra' Format
Panasonic officials have long held that, because the P2 cards are meant to be a reusable storage media, their hefty price tag represented a one-time expenditure and was not a significant barrier to entry for budget-minded shooters. However, using the pricey P2 cards efficiently has meant devising workflows that offload data and then wipe the footage from the P2 media completely so that the cards can be re-used.
As far as gear, the star of the show at Panasonic’s booth was the AG-HPX300 AVC-Intra camcorder (HD Studio, February 24). With a list price of $10,700, it represents an aggressive move at a very attractive price point. But the Panasonic exhibit also had some hints about the as-yet-unsettled “AVC Ultra” format, which Panasonic officials said is in the “conceptual” stage but will eventually not only enable higher quality video recording in Panasonic cameras, but also carry stereo imagery (see related story). Officials weren’t giving up many details, but suggested that bit rates of 200 Mbps and higher were under consideration.
And Joe Facchini, director of product marketing, described a new “flashband compensation” system that addresses a problem CMOS censors, like the “3MOS” chip inside the HPX300, have with footage that includes quick flashes of light. Because a CMOS chip is exposed over a short period of time, from top to bottom (or, conceivably, vice versa) there is a degree of temporal displacement between regions of any given frame. When a quick flash of light occurs, the illumination may end up being visible only in the top half or bottom half of the frame. A free firmware upgrade will be available for download this summer.
Three new AVCCAM products were announced. The AG-HMC40 (August, $3195) is a compact handheld camera with 1/4-inch 3MOS imagers that weighs less than 2.2 pounds. It records video in 1080p/24, 1080p/30, 1080i/60, 720p60, 720p30 and 720p24 as well as taking 10.6-megapixel stills. An XLR audio input module is optional. The AG-HMR10 portable recorder player (later this year, $2650) has HDMI and HD-SDI out as well as an HD-SDI input, which allows for tapeless file-based recording from any system that sends out HD-SDI video. It has a built-in 3.5-inch LCD screen. Presenter Robert Harris, VP of marketing and product development, suggested it would be a good match for the new AG-HCK10 compact camera head (later this year, $2100), which has 1/4-inch 3MOS imagers and can be remote controlled via cable connection.
Panasonic also debuted the AV-HS450, a live HD/SD switcher with 16 HD SDI ins, a dual-screen multiviewing system, and 10-bt 4:2:2 HD and SD quality targeted for mid-size and mobile studio applications. It will be available later this year.