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On Location Multimedia Selects Panasonic's AJ-HDC27V Cinema Camera

(November 28, 2001)
On Location Multimedia, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, a Midwestern production facility with a satellite office, Spotwerx, in Los Angeles and representatives in Chicago and New York, recently purchased Panasonic Broadcast’s AJ-HDC27V variable-frame HD Cinema camera.

On Location’s range of services include television, film, video and related production, the creation of DV-oriented training programming, and web site development. The facility’s new Los Angeles-based subsidiary, Spotwerx, dedicated to commercial production, will also offer clients the ability to shoot with the AJ-HDC27V.

The AJ-HDC27V allows digital cinematographers to capture film-like 24-frame high-definition progressive scanned images; in addition the camera provides a wide range of variable frame rates (4 to 33-fps, 36, 40 and 60-fps) for off-speed capture situations.

Since taking delivery of the camera in August, On Location’s AJ-HDC27V has been used for dialogue, pick-ups and B unit work on the theatrical feature, “Tattered Angel,” a project shot in its entirety with the Panasonic HD Cinema camera. On Location has also shot several television spots with the AJ-HDC27V for political campaigns, B-roll for Charlie Daniels’ new patriotic music video called “In America,” and material for the Cincinnati Ballet and Kentucky Speedway.

A number of other projects are in the works, including full-length documentaries, museum pieces, full-up spots for consumer goods companies, financial services companies and others.

Panasonic’s AJ-HDC27V camera is arguably the finest video camera in the world today and is fully capable of the highest-end production,” said On Location’s president/owner Tim Matthews. “We are confident that the camera will facilitate our occupying a content-creation niche above high-end video and just below 35mm film while offering our clients very meaningful cost-advantages. In certain applications, we believe that HD production with this camera will prove superior to 35mm production.”

Matthews emphasized that the AJ-HDC27V was meticulously evaluated versus alternative HD production cameras in studio and field tests as well as evaluation at the NAB convention. He noted, “We determined that the Panasonic HD camera gave us the benefit of full progressive scanning across the full range of frame rates that would be comparable to a film camera. It is an ideal tool for downconverting to NTSC, which will characterize 95% or more of our material for the next several years. We believe that the AJ-HDC27V is the best overall technical/creative solution available in the HD marketplace.

“In practice, the dynamic range of the camera has been quite impressive. On the ‘Tattered Angel’ shoot, it was used outside, inside and in all different weather conditions, and the picture consistently looked really spectacular. “I believe the cost-efficiency of the camera will be realized in a variety of contexts. For instance, a commercial client may be able to add a spot to a campaign without spending any more money. Eliminating film processing and film-to-tape transfer costs is highly significant. The bottom line? We’ll be delivering a real value to our clients and absolutely sustaining the quality level they would have been achieved with film.”

Matthews said that, to date, he has downconverted material shot in 720/60p to SD for editing in his Avid system. However, On Location has recently taken delivery of the HDBOXX, produced by BOXX Technologies, Inc., which will provide the capability of native HD editing, with output of either HD or SD/NTSC video.

On Location is also using the Panasonic AJ-HD150 DVCPRO HD studio VTR. According to Matthews, “The AJ-HD150 deck not only gives us playback and editing capabilities to and from high definition, but also adds the versatility of playing DV and DVCPRO formats whenever we have material to edit on those formats. This is a natural augmentation of all of the other formats we handle in our edit suites.”

Providing excellent economy, long recording times and a refreshing ease of use, the AJ-HDC27V offers 24 frame per second capture for acquisition of exquisite film-like images. And with its unique variable-frame selectivity, cinematographers can choose from a wide range of other frame rates – including 4 to 33-fps (in one frame increments) 36-fps, 40-fps and 60-fps providing the capability to “overcrank” or ”undercrank” the camera to achieve fast or slow-motion effects. This is the first time this traditional film technique has been applied to a high-definition digital camera system.

A truly flexible digital camera, the AJ-HDC27V’s progressive images can be directly converted to film avoiding unnecessary frame rate conversions. By utilizing Panasonic's AJ-HD3700 D-5 HD Mastering VTR, images can be format converted to 1080p/24 -- a Universal Master from which 25fps PAL programming can be easily derived. The AJ-HDC27V can also create “motion-blur” and “warp-speed” special effects in real-time by shooting at very low frame rates without shutter. The camera’s shutter speeds automatically track frame rate changes, ensuring consistency throughout the shoot.

The AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema camera records for 46 minutes in standard 720/60p format on DVCPRO large-size cassettes and provides exceptional sensitivity-- equivalent ASA speed rating of [email protected] lux. Capable of shooting in a wide range of light-level conditions, the AJ-HDC27V’s programmable gain preamplifier can be set to optimize signal levels--operators can choose from -6 dB to +36 dB in 12 steps. Its advanced color correction scheme utilizes a 12-pole color matrix that allows very specific colors to be adjusted without affecting the overall color imagery. The camera offers a total of 12 separate scene files, which are saved internally and on a removable memory card. Panasonic’s HD Cinema camera lineup also includes the AJ-HDC20A 1080i60 camera and the AJ-HDC27A 720p60 camera.

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