NAB Perspectives: Panasonic’s Cooperman Dishes About P2 Cast, Latest Camera Developments

Panasonic’s NAB 2015 booth is full of new options for those looking to shoot in either 4K or HD, and the company has also announced an important commitment from the NBC Universal News Group to the company’s AVC Ultra codec as well as its camera product line. But it is new offerings — notably, a cloud-based ENG system designed to make it easier for stations to access high-resolution files from camera operators and producers in the field — that are turning heads of attendees. Steve Cooperman, senior product manager, pro video, Panasonic System Communications Co., sat down with SVG to discuss the latest intros, the company’s product strategy, and what customers are asking for.

One interesting introduction here is P2 Cast, a cloud-based ENG system. It seems like it could have some good applications for, say, grabbing highlights from a game or press conference. How does it work?
As you are streaming live, you are recording the file and metadata in the camera. [When] you are done, you have the 25-Mbps hi-res file in the camera and a 3.5-Mbps proxy back at the station. At the station, they will look through that proxy and then mark clips with a simplified editor. Then something like an EDL is sent to the camera and pulls out the high-resolution clips.

How do you see the 4K market developing for your customers?
For live event [production], we have had some customers interested in the Multidyne, and, for the independent, there is the DVX200. The DVX100 was the first 24p digital camera, and the DVX200 is a 4K/60p handheld camera trying to address the run-and-gun 4K market. It’s clearly not the only 4K handheld, but it has an integrated lens, and the concept is to take advantage of the things operators are used to in HD. There are all sorts of features that cinema folks don’t use, but, if you are moving around and get nice real 4K video but in a small package and without having to worry about slipping on different lenses, this is a nice solution.

For the sports- and remote-production market, we have the 4K box camera, the UB-300 and the UC-3000 4K studio camera, [which] can use ⅔-in. lenses. And there’s a lot of interest.

You had some nice announcements today regarding HD deals with some station groups, and then there are the 4K developments. So how do you see the HD and 4K markets moving together in the next couple of years, and how do they impact each other?
It would be interesting if local stations shot news in 4K, but, obviously, our AJ-PX5000G and the PX270 are great cameras for HD news, and I think that will continue. But one of the things we are seeing is an enormous growth in 4K opportunities for things like streaming and VOD as they open up that market.

I think there are too many 4K naysayers, as there are companies like Netflix and Amazon that have a tremendous amount of bandwidth and ability to deliver 4K.

The dynamics have changed, and, clearly, that will continue. If you are buying a new TV in the next year, you’re probably buying a 4K set, which opens up the opportunity for things like 4K streaming. And, with syndication, the studios are projecting $6.8 billion of VOD syndication revenue. That doesn’t mean there is a need for 4K, but syndication is a big part of the marketplace: you don’t know if you are going to have the next Modern Family or Seinfeld, but you are going to want to future-proof it.

We’re selling more cameras than ever. A lot of them are used for TV shows for the Web, and all of it continues to grow the ecosystem for 4K.

Do you think that, as the ecosystem of content creation expands, there will be enough new business to support all of the manufacturers here, or will it cause an issue for companies at the higher end?
That question has been going on for the last four or five years with things like the DSLR craze. And the technology available at the low end is amazing. But there are still things you cannot do, and, if you want the highest-quality 4K and great dynamic range, you will get it only with a premium product. As the world transfers to 4K, you will need more high-quality 4K. And, as people [go] to 4K, they will start noticing more issues, especially as they start looking at it on larger screens, like the 84- and 90-in. sets. That is where we will play really well and offer the highest quality possible, where you have the price point but without a poor product.

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