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Panasonic AVC Ultra, AJ-PX5000, and microP2 Cards
Panasonic, where are you? Come out, come out wherever you are! The once game changing Panasonic professional video team has shrunk back into the shadows over the past several years. Announcements surface at tradeshows for new codecs, media, and cameras to be available sometime in the future. We haven’t seen much in the way of product releases other than the microP2 cards in May and some AVC Ultra plug-ins in June. Despite the lack of new releases Panasonic is often the 2nd leading manufacturer used on Crews Control’s video shoots. Panasonic cameras made up 27% of our 2nd quarter shoots in 2013 with work horses like the HDX-900, HVX-200, and others. Currently, Crews Control represents 388 DP’s and production companies that own Panasonic cameras. The Panasonic loyalists are anxiously awaiting the release of the AJ-PX5000 later this fall so they can use the new AVC codecs.
What is the deal with AVC Ultra is it a new codec or the name for a range of AVC Intra and AVC LongG codecs? AVC Ultra is actually a family of codecs which can record any Panasonic format. Here is a list of formats in hierarchical order AVC -Intra 4:4:4, AVC-Intra 200, AVC-Intra 100, AVC-Intra 50, AVC-Intra LongG50, AVC-Intra LongG25, AVC-Intra LongG12, AVC-Intra LongG6, AVC Proxy. Let’s break the formats down. Each format determines the resolution (frame size 1920×1080), frame rates (23.97p, 25p, and 29.97p), pixel depth (bit depth 8bit, 10bit, 12bit), bit rate (speed 25MBps, 50MBps, 200Mbps, 440Mbps) and color sampling (4:4:4, 4:2:2) of the image.
AVC Ultra is explained in full in this Panasonic white paper. If you want just the highlights check out Know Your Panasonic Codecs! DVCPRO HD, AVC Intra & AVC Ultra
Once the AJ-HPX5000 does get released later this fall this is what you can look forward too. It is shoulder mounted camera. What’s that sound? It is the collective sigh of relief from all the camera ops out there. It has two built in P2 card slots and two more microP2 card slots. It is important to take note that the HPX5000 does not support spanning over the P2 to microP2 cards. This is the first AVC Ultra camera. I know that you are saying, “wait a minute the AJ-HPX-600 is supposed to do AVC Ultra”, you will be able to upgrade the HPX600 to AVC Ultra but it is not standard. It is important to point out that even though this camera can shoot AVC Ultra codecs natively it will only support AVC-Intra100/50 and AVC-LogG. You will be able to get the option of recording in AVC-Intra 200, DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO50, DVCPRO, and DV. It will be 59.94Hz and 50Hz switchable for use in both PAL and NTSC countries. The HPX5000 is the first 2/3” 3MOS camera. It is outfitted with wireless and wired connectivity via Wi-Fi, USB, and Gigabit Ethernet. This allows camera functions to be controlled by a smart phone and optional integration with uplink transmitters from LiveU, AVIWEST, Streambox, and TVU Networks.
Panasonic first announced the microP2 cards at NAB 2012. They are currently shipping and are a fraction of the costs for a P2 card. They are available in 32GB and 64GB sizes. If you would like switch up your standard P2 card workflow the AJ-P2AD1G adapter is also available; which allows the user to record onto microP2 cards in a standard P2 card slot.
Let us know if you have preordered the AJ-HPX-5000 or the 3rd generation Varicam? What do you think about the AVC Ultra family of codecs? Will the smaller LongG files be helpful to your workflow?