Cuts P2-Card Prices Across the Board

Panasonic Solutions beefed up 3D options at its annual pre-NAB press event, held earlier today in New York City, announcing a new P2 deck that, in tandem with a second unit, can enable high-quality 3D recording, as well as options in stereo 3D switching, and 24p shooting. The company also brought the always-welcome news of price cuts on its line of P2 media, effective immediately, but there were no entirely new cameras on offer. Those announcements, officials strongly hinted, will be forthcoming in Las Vegas on the eve of NAB in April.
The highest capacity 64 GB P2 cards now cost $695, a 30 percent price drop. The 32 GB card is $480, and the 16 GB card will go for $380. (Don’t hold out for that 128 GB card – VP of Sales and Product Management Joe Facchini said customers have sent a message that 64 GB is “big enough” for a solid-state memory card.) Other announcements focused on existing P2 and AVC-Intra workflows, with a gadget that allows wireless transmission of camera metadata, a new slimmed-down P2 drive option, and software for ingesting and archiving P2 content.

The company also took the opportunity to refocus the spotlight on the AG-AF100, its recently shipped camcorder that adapted the large-format 4/3-inch imager from Panasonic’s Lumix GH1 and GH2 cameras. On the market for just two months, there are now “thousands of them on the street” in the U.S., according to Facchini. (When asked, he said sales of the much-coveted 3DA1 all-in-one stereo 3D camcorder were “in the hundreds” in the U.S.) Those numbers are likely to translate into continued trouble meeting demand for the cameras through the NAB time frame, he said.

P2 Recording, Flat or in Stereo

The new two-slot AG-HPD24 P2 Portable solid-state deck records 4:2:2 10-bit AVC-Intra, with the option to record native 24p, as well as 24-bit four-channel audio. It has HDMI out, USB 3.0, and – with its half-rack-unit size, weight of 5.5 lbs, and option for battery operation – real portability.

VP of Business Development Bob Harris talked up the deck as “a very affordable, very high-quality 3D recording format,” but you will need two of them to make the stereo magic happen. Sync them as master and slave via RS-422 to record and play back separate, high-quality AVC-Intra 100 Mbps and 50 Mbps streams. Each deck is $6,000, and they’re slated to ship this summer.

Harris also previewed the BT-LH910 nine-inch LCD monitor (with a 15×9 aspect ratio), which features two HD-SDI inputs so that it can be used specifically for 3D alignment – checks of composition, convergence, parallax, and more can be made on the 2D screen, in overlay or side-by-side display modes. The monitor has a 1280×768 WXGA-resolution screen, weighs 3.7 pounds, and features 3G support for 60p playback. It’s due in April for $3500.

3D Switching as an Option

A decidedly big deal for stereo broadcasters is the new AV-HS04M7D, a $5900 3D SDI output board for the AV-HS450 switcher that’s now shipping. As a promotion, Harris said, customers who buy the switcher in February or March will get the board as a free add-on.

Along with news of the P2 price drops came other improvements in P2 workflow, as the company announced AVCCAM Importer, a free software plug-in for Final Cut Pro that will convert .mts files to ProRes 422. Look for it as a download from Panasonic’s website this summer.

Just as customers seem to have settled on 64 GB as a capacity ceiling, they seem to be saying that five slots on a P2 drive is overkill. Accordingly, the new AJ-PCD30 is a three-slot drive, outfitted with USB 3.0 connectivity, that runs $2255. It’s also scheduled for summer availability.

Get Wireless Access to the HPX3100

Today’s announcements were rounded out by the AJ-WM30 802.11b/g wireless module for the AJ-HPX3100 camcorder, which allows metadata input/display, thumbnail display, playback of proxies (with an optional video encoder board), text memos, and various camera status reports on a connected device like an iPhone or iPad. The wireless module will run $150, while the AJ-SFU3100 software for the camera will run you $1500. For now, it’s only compatible with the HPX3100, but the system will come to other cameras in the future.

Finally, video pros who just don’t know what to do with their archives may appreciate the arrival of two more pieces of software. Panasonic’s AJ-SF110 video-ingest software ($2500) will allow users to get P2 footage into their systems without firing up an NLE for ingest, and the AJ-SF100 LTO tape software ($5,000) will automate key functions of a tape archive for keeping video files safe and sound. The software will only run on 64-bit Windows 7 systems when it ships in May, but Mac versions are planned.