NBCUniversal Purchases Panasonic AVC-ULTRA Camcorders

NBCUniversal News Group has purchased a number of Panasonic electronic newsgathering (ENG) cameras and related broadcast equipment as part of its technology and workflow transformation initiative.

The pro video equipment includes Panasonic’s latest AVC-ULTRA camcorder models, the AJ-PX5000G P2 HD shoulder-mount and AJ-PX270 P2 HD handheld, as well as AJ-PG50 and AJ-PD500 AVC-ULTRA field recorders, AK-HRP200 remote operation panels, and VariCam 35 4K camera/recorders.

This equipment will be used across the board to acquire contribution video for all NBC News programs including “NBC Nightly News,” “TODAY,” “Meet the Press” and “Dateline,” as well as MSNBC. It will also be utilized to contribute to NBC business partners CNBC, Telemundo and other cable properties.

Ultimately, NBCU News Group intends to standardize on AVC-LongG25 as an acquisition and mezzanine format. According to Leonard Venezia, NBCUniversal Vice-President of Field Operations and Engineering, “We’ve looked carefully at codecs and are very impressed with Panasonic’s LongG25. It’s remarkable to have the ability to capture full 10 bit HD 4:2:2 images using a 25Mbps codec. The quality is outstanding. While there are reduced storage implications, I think for us the real benefit comes when transferring files back to the home office or even for local use. As an example, using a laptop and card reader, we are able to transfer 60 minutes of content to a thumb drive in about two minutes.”

“NBCU News Group’s decision to standardize on AVC-LongG25 is a testament to the power and flexibility of the AVC-ULTRA codec, and we are tremendously excited to support the network in its broad technology initiative with a range of our advanced ENG gear,” says John Baisley, Senior Vice-President, Panasonic System Communications Company.

As part of its longstanding relationship with Panasonic, NBC News assisted Panasonic in the development of the feature set of the PX5000G and its next generation of ENG cameras. “The design and functionality of the PX5000G makes it well equipped for today’s fast-paced and competitive news business,” Venezia says. “The camera weighs a mere 7.5lbs, uses CMOS sensors, has very low power consumption (29W), great sensitivity and S/N. We used the camera for a Telemundo production, La Voz, and the production team was impressed with the quality of the picture. We also value the microP2 media for its reasonable price, durability and speed.”

With respect to the wireless functionality of the PX5000G and PX270, Venezia adds, “Wireless connectivity is critical to our workflow. The ability to transfer files and clips—hi rez or proxy–while continuing to record is a major leap forward. We have great interest in using cloud architecture to send an EDL to the camera and receive the hi rez clip back at the station for immediate play-out. Further, the ability to add metadata over wireless infrastructure will help streamline and automate manual processes.”

Venezia said NBCU News Group plans to use the VariCam 35 to enhance content for long-form projects, citing the camera’s narrow depth of field, multiple frame rates, enhanced dynamic range and color gamut as tools to allow photographers and producers to expand their creativity.

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