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WHDT Selects Panasonic D-5 HD as House Tape Format

(July 10, 2001)
The new million-watt station WHDT-TV (West Palm Beach, FL), the nation's first HDTV-only station, makes extensive use of D-5 HD VTRs from Panasonic Broadcast. The station has purchased six AJ-HD2700 1080i/720p switchable VTRs and has three AJ-HD3700H D-5 HD multi-format mastering VTRs on order. The station will initiate over-the-air HD broadcasting later this month, and will be carried by the Adelphia and Time Warner cable systems (digital and analog), with a combined potential reach of six million viewers throughout South Florida.

WHDT has a sister production company, Digital Kinofilm, the country's largest producer in 720p. Both are owned by Marksteiner AG of Germany; WHDT is associated with Deutsche Welle, the world's third-largest newsgathering organization. WHDT will upconvert two hours of German-language programming daily, as well as 30-minute international broadcasts, with material provided by Deutsche Welle. The station will launch with 12 hours of programming daily, and plans to expand to 24 hours by the fall season.

Owner Gunther Marksteiner characterized WHDT as a "true producing television station," founded to distribute the productions of Digital Kinofilm and address the demand for upscale programming within South Florida's ultra-high-end home theater market. The station intends to broadly cover luxury water sports, extreme sports, community-based events, local manufacturing and the arts. As an example, WHDT will be the exclusive distributor of the upcoming Malta Bianalla, an international arts festival that will be held in Palm Beach.

Marksteiner explained that Digital Kinofilm made a commitment to 720p production as long ago as 1995 and that parent AG Marksteiner, an aggressive manufacturer, built WHDT's transmitter, antenna, tower, routing system and created 720p-based software for master control. AG Marksteiner exhibited a 720p-native field production monitor at NAB 2001.

He commented, "With proper acquisition, we believe that 720p delivers true e-cinema quality at one-fifth the cost of 35mm or 70mm production. We purchased the switchable AJ-HD2700 VTRs for Digital Kinofilm as soon as they became available. The only possible alternative--Toshiba's D-6 equipment--cost three times as much at twice the weight."

Digital Kinofilm has made extensive use of the AJ-HD2700 for field production for the past two years, typically with the equipment placed in such challenging physical situations as trucks, helicopters, sail boats, parasails and ocean-going vessels. The company records to the AJ-HD2700 from Philips' K9000 720p cameras. WHDT will also utilize the AJ-HD2700s for editing and program playback.

Marksteiner added, "Investing in D-5 HD has also saved us upwards of a quarter-million dollars in tape library costs, as we have hundreds and hundreds of four-hour D-3 (Panasonic composite digital) cassettes archived from our NTSC and PAL work. With D-5, Panasonic provides a consistent, compatible 1/2" tape format."

He noted that the AJ-HD3700H multi-format VTRs will be used for high-end production; also, the station plans to modify the AJ-HD3700H for experiments with 800p, 2.4:1 aspect ratio production.

Not only has D-5 HD been selected as the HDTV delivery format of choice by the major television networks, it also has now become the mastering standard for HD telecine transfers by the major movie studios, and adopted from coast-to-coast by the nation's most prestigious post-production facilities.

The AJ-HD3700H is based on Panasonic's industry-standard D-5 HD format, which records high-definition studio-standard signals using a full-bandwidth digital recording system with demonstrated superb picture quality and the added convenience of recording and playing back eight discrete channels of digital audio.

The AJ-HD3700H D-5 HD multi-format recording system is a mastering-quality DTV/HDTV videotape recorder that performs the most demanding program mastering, high-definition cinema, television commercial and multi-format DTV and HDTV program production tasks. It can support standard definition and multiple high-definition video formats without hardware or software exchange. The AJ-HD3700H can play back existing 525 line standard D-5 or D-5 HD cassettes and can record 10-bit uncompressed 480/60i standard-definition video with preread, in addition to 1080/24p/25p, 1080/60i, 1080/50i, and 720/60p high-definition standards. In addition the recorder can slew between 24 and 25Hz frame rates for international (PAL) program duplication from a 1080/24p master. Both analog audio I/O and metadata recording and playback are supported as standard features.

The AJ-HD2700 D-5 HD VTR, the only commercially-available digital component VTR with the capability of recording 1080i and 720p images, likewise records high definition studio standard signals using a full bandwidth digital recording system. The VTR's advanced intra-field 4:1 compression combined with the D-5 format's high-density recording technology permits 8 bit or 10 bit HD digital recording on compact 1/2-inch cassette tapes which are easy to handle and require little storage space.

The 1080i/720p switchable HD VTR is equipped with an HD serial digital interface that allows transmission of both uncompressed digital video and audio signals over a single coaxial cable. The 20-bit/48-kHz sampling and dynamic range of 100dB of the AJ-HD2700 assures exceptional audio quality, and all four audio channels of its offer independent recording and playback, as well as channel mixing.

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., one of the world's leading producers of electronic and electric products for consumer, business and industrial use. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the company's web site at

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Related Keywords:WHDT Panasonic D-5 HD High-Definition Television HDTV Videotape


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