Cox Picks New Panasonic Cameras

Station group goes with three-chip P2 HD system

Panasonic has closed a deal with station group Cox Television to supply its P2 HD solid-state camera systems for newsgathering operations. Cox, which had previously adopted P2 standard-definition gear, will implement Panasonic’s new three-chip, 2/3-inch P2 HD camera, the AJ-HPX2000.

The shoulder-mounted unit is designed with news production in mind and supports a variety of high- and standard-definition formats, including DVCPRO HD and Panasonic’s new AVC-Intra codec, an advanced compression scheme that offers both 100- and 50-megabit-per-second (Mbps) modes. The AJ-HPX2000 ships in January at a list price of $27,000.

The first two stations, ABC affiliates WSOC Charlotte, N.C., and WSB Atlanta, will get the gear in the first quarter of 2007.

WSOC, which already has standard-def P2 cameras, will initially receive P2 HD units to replace Sony Betacam SX cameras for SD production.

WSB, which launched HD newscasts in September, has yet to adopt any P2 gear. It will thus be getting a much larger assortment of AJ-HPX2000 cameras, perhaps 25-30.

While AVC-Intra currently doesn’t go lower than 50 Mbps, Panasonic has indicated that lower data rates are possible.

Cox Broadcasting VP of Engineering Sterling Davis believes that a rate of 25 Mbps will probably work for most news applications, although he says there may be occasions to go higher.

“If you’re shooting a special, you might shoot 100 Mbps,” he says. “The nice part of this is that you’re not locked into a single data rate.”

Panasonic has also introduced a portable P2 HD recorder/player, the AJ-HPM100, to accommodate the camera. The $12,000 unit, dubbed the “P2 Mobile,” can store up to six P2 solid-state memory cards, which allows the recording of continuous, extended clips in sequence.

The 14.4-pound device can handle play-list and cuts-only editing, transferring and copying of P2 content, backup recording for live broadcasts, and playback for transmission via satellite back to a broadcast facility.