Columbia College invests in Panasonic for mobile truck
Columbia College Chicago (Chicago, IL), the largest and most diverse private arts and media college in the nation, recently invested in four Panasonic AK-HC931B HD multi-format studio/EFP cameras for a new mobile production truck that will be used for instruction and field production. Through a novel business arrangement, Columbia College is equipping the truck through a leasing agreement with local ABC affiliate WLS-TV.
Columbia College Chicago, with 120 academic programs and more than 12,000 students, resides in a 19-building campus in the heart of Chicago’s South Loop. The production van has been designed and built out by the college’s Television and Audio Arts and Acoustics Departments, part of the School of Media Arts, under the supervision of Chief Engineers Dave Mason and Brett Johnson.
The truck, which will go live later this fall, will familiarize students with a full complement of state-of-the-art production gear in addition to the Panasonic HD cameras. The HC931Bs, with 1080i/720p capability, are outfitted with Fujinon XA17x7.6 BERM HD zoom lenses with 2X extenders, as well as color LCD viewfinders and 2” HD electronic viewfinders for alternate studio/handheld use. Additional Panasonic production equipment in use includes the AJ-HD1400 DVCPRO HD compact VTR, and two Panasonic BT-LH1700W 17” LCD monitors, which will be used for quality control monitoring.
WLS-TV has entered into a three-year lease with Columbia College whereby the ABC affiliate will access the truck for a certain number of dates throughout the year, but with the educational institution having full and general use of the mobile van. The partnership will also provide WLS internships for Columbia College Media Arts students.
“It has been an exciting adventure to combine resources with WLS-TV in making this major investment in the production truck and equipment,” said Doreen Bartoni, Dean of the School of Media Arts. “The venture affords our students training on the best available live broadcast gear, while at the same time giving them real-world newsgathering experience.”
Dean Bartoni said that the production truck would play an integral role in Columbia College’s new Media Production Center, which will break ground next year with completion slated for fall 2009.
“The new mobile truck represents our first completely HD production environment,” said Michael Niederman, chairman of the Department of Television. “The HC931B HD cameras will be a linchpin in training our next generation of students, and during the selection process, Panasonic distinguished itself by showing a keen awareness of educational requirements.”
Chief Engineer Dave Mason said that the truck will be incorporated into a number of hands-on classes within the Television and Audio Arts Departments, beginning with Basic Truck Production. “The HC931Bs come with a lot of options built-in, and will facilitate instruction in studio, single-camera and multi-camera shoots. We’re setting up the cameras for 720p acquisition, but we can make an easy switch to 1080i capture should that be desirable. What’s more, the camera is flexible enough to still shoot standard definition.”
Mason noted that several months prior to the College’s selection of the HC931Bs, the Television Department purchased three AG-HVX200 P2 HD camcorders, which have quickly become students’ chief acquisition tool for the college television station, Frequency TV. The station’s programming about student life can be viewed in dorms, downloaded as iTunes podcasts, and is displayed in elevator lobbies and lounges throughout the campus.
“The HVX200 is easy to use, versatile, and has a fabulous feature set,” Mason said. “The student news teams keep the cameras in constant use.”