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Panasonic's AJ-HDC27V HD Camera Shoots Govt. Marine Conservation Projects for NOAA

(December 03, 2001)
Panasonic Broadcasts new AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema camera was utilized on two ocean-based marine conservation projects administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The two projects were shot at locations in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and off the East Coast of the United States.

This location work marks two firsts for the AJ-HDC27V, the first time the camera has been used underwater and its first outing on a natural history project. John Brooks, an information specialist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, served as the director/ photographer for both shoots and Aulani Wilhelm from NOAA, served as the producer for the Hawaiian Islands segment.

The AJ-HDC27V allows digital cinematographers to capture high speed 60-frame per second or film-like 24-frame per second 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 for 24-fps-based playback.

NOAA, a federal agency established 31 years ago under the Department of Commerce, is mandated to observe, predict and protect the environment. As the trustee for 12 marine protected areas, NOAA protects National Marine Sanctuaries, which are akin to national underwater parks.

The AJ-HDC27V camera was used underwater to record the clean-up of marine debris that is imperiling the coral reefs and monk seals native to the National Wildlife Refuge off Midway Island, one of the most remote of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The AJ-HDC27V also went on board a submersible submarine to record ongoing research in key underwater habitats along the southeastern Atlantic seaboard (including the renowned Oculina Coral Reef Reserve off the coast of Florida) as part of a project called ?Is lands in the (Gulf) Stream.

The material shot will be multi-purposed but the footage was immediately used for press and web consumption. At sea, Panasonics portable AJ-HD130DC DVCPRO HD VTR was used to downconvert to 4:3 NTSC video for reporters and web release. Subsequently, the material will be post-produced for 30 and 60-minute high-definition NOAA ?specials that will be seen in aquariums and museums of natural history. Also, because everything was shot at 60-fps, 1280 x 720 pixel progressive scan, the agency will have an valuable archive of high-resolution still images.

The 720/60p format was chosen because of its suitability for capturing natural history. 720p inherently delivers the highest temporal resolution, and shooting at 60 frames yields the most true-to-life look at your subject, a fundamental goal of natural history shoots. Also, shooting at up to 60-fps in progressive scan affords an imposing variety of high-resolution still images, which was a key NOAA objective.

Brooks commented, ?Set-ups in HD were not vastly different from shooting standard-definition video, but you can do more theatrical lighting and get good results, as I did for the surface interviews. I was certainly happy with the longer load times of DVCPRO tape vs. film--I was routinely getting in and out of small, inflatable boats, where it would have been problematic to change film loads every 12 minutes.

Brooks rented the AJ-HDC27V from Bexel Corporation (Burbank, CA). The underwater housing for the camera was supplied by Pace Technologies, also of Burbank. Providing excellent economy, long recording times and a refreshing ease of use, the AJ-HDC27V offers both 60 frame per second and 24 frame per second capture for acquisition of exquisite film-like images. With its unique variable-frame selectivity, cinematographers can also 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 when replayed at 24fps display rates. This is the first time this traditional film technique has been applied to a high-definition digital camera system.

The AJ-HDC27V records for 46 minutes in 1280 x 720 progressive scan at frame rates up to 60fps onto a DVCPRO HD large-size cassette. The camera provides exceptional sensitivity? equivalent to an ASA speed rating of 1000-- specified as F13@2000 lux. Capable of shooting in a wide range of light-level conditions, the AJ-HDC27Vs 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.

The AJ-HD130DC is a half-rack width DVCPRO HD VTR for desktop editing or field production applications. Highly compact, this 20-pound DVCPRO HD VTR is the worlds smallest high-definition production recorder. Operating on either 120V AC or 12 Volt DC power, the AJ-HD130DC is ready-to-go for installation in a mobile van, helicopter, flight pack, or portable in-field use. The DVCPRO HD offers 46 minutes of high-quality 1920 x 1080 interlace scan or 1280 x 720 progressive scan high definition recording.

In addition to the AJ-HDC27V and AJ-HDC20A, Panasonics HD Cinema camera lineup includes the AJ-HDC27A 720p60 camera. For more information on Panasonics HD Cinema lineup, visit Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast, professional video and presentation products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a unit company of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, the principal North America subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC), one of the world's leading producers of electronic and electric products for consumer, business and industrial use.

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