NAB 2009: JVC Bows Final Cut-Friendly Camcorder

JVC has introduced the next step in its cost-effective ProHD camcorder line with a new shoulder-mounted model, the GY-HM700, which records high-definition video on inexpensive SDHC memory cards in the same native QuickTime (.MOV) format used by Apple's popular Final Cut Pro editing systems. The new camera, which JVC executives say will speed the news editing process by eliminating time-consuming format transfers between cameras and editing systems, will be available in March for a list price of $7,995.

The new GY-HM700 camera, along a smaller handheld model, the GY-HM100, follows through on plans JVC announced at the IBC show last September to incorporate solid-state recording into its ProHD line, which has been adopted for both newsgathering and in-studio applications by groups such as Scripps, Raycom and Newport Television. At IBC, JVC said it had struck a deal with Sony to license Sony's XDCAM EX camera format and the SxS flash memory cards that it uses to record video, and the GY-HM700 can attach to an optional adapter, the KA-MR100, to record video in a format compatible with XDCAM EX.

But JVC has also licensed Apple's Quicktime codec technology to allow the new camera to record video in the native format used by Apple Final Cut Pro, which is already used for day-to-day news editing by large customers like Scripps, on off-the-shelf SDHC cards which cost as little as $13 for 8 gigabytes of storage. The camera comes with two slots for the SDHC cards, which can store about 35 minutes of either 720p or 1080i video on an 8 GB card using the highest-quality 35 megabit-per-second recording mode. The camera also offers 19 Mbps recording for 720p video and 25 Mbps recording for 1080i video.

JVC has found its first customer for the GY-HM700 in Scripps, which has already bought some 200 JVC ProHD 250 series cameras for newsgathering at 10 stations. Scripps is going to buy 100-120 of the new HM700 cameras over the next two years, says JVC Professional vice president Larry Librach. Scripps is also buying 37 units of the HM100 handheld camcorder, which will be available in April for a list price of $3,995 and also records natively in the Apple format.

Scripps VP of engineering Mike Doback says the HM700 camera has several improvements, including an enhanced high-definition viewfinder, and adds that the solid-state recording media will fit easily into Scripps' existing file-based workflow. To date, Scripps has been using Focus Enhancements' Firestore disk drive units that attach to the back of its ProHD cameras to record video, instead of HDV tape.

"Moving away from spinning disk and other things with moving parts is absolutely the right thing to do," says Doback. "At the end of the day, there are also probably economies of ownership in terms of the operating cost. The memory is cheap and readily available. It's got a lot of really good things going for it."

Doback adds that the HM700 cameras are of sufficient quality to put in a studio for live shots as well. Scripps has already successfully used a 250 series camera to replace a high-end $60,000 studio camera that had to be repaired, says Doback, with the ProHD camera providing a better image.

JVC thinks the low cost of the SDHC memory cards will allow stations to use them in much the same way as they previously used analog video tapes, shooting a story on a card and then keeping it in storage instead of having to offload the video to centralized disk storage, as stations generally do with higher-priced solid-state memory from competing formats like Panasonic's P2. JVC has developed a simple media management system with small pouches attached to filing cards so stations won't lose track of the tiny SDHC memory cards.

"It's a whole new paradigm of the way people can treat media," says JVC assistant vice president Dave Walton. "What you used to store in a roomful of tapes, now you can store in a shoebox."

While that workflow may seem anachronistic to news operations that have fully adopted file-based operations, Doback thinks treating the SD cards like tiny tapes will make sense to a lot of broadcasters.

"There are a lot of stations that are still addicted to a linear workflow using videotape," he notes. "They've got to have something in their hand. For them, this is exactly the answer, and it's affordable and easily attainable."