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WSOC Rolls Out Panasonic P2 HD Cameras

WSOC Charlotte, N.C., is the first Cox Television station to fully convert to Panasonic's P2 HD solid-state camcorders for its newsgathering operations, Panasonic announced Monday.

The ABC affiliate has 25 AJ-HPX2000 shoulder-mounted, multiformat 2/3” P2 HD camcorders, which it has been using for field production since April, when the station launched high-definition newscasts.

Since WSOC doesn’t yet have HD editing or microwave gear in place, the station is using the P2 HD cameras to shoot in wide-screen standard-definition mode at 25 megabits per second, then upconverting the video to the 720-line-progressive-scan (720p) HD format.

“They upconvert pretty well,” said Dave Siegler, WSOC’s director of broadcast operations and engineering. He added that the incremental step of taking live shots to full HD in the future “isn’t going to be that much better for what it will cost, compared to what we’ve just done,” particularly when accounting for expensive HD microwave-receive equipment to take feeds from the station’s helicopter and news trucks.

The P2 HD cameras, which record video on removable solid-state memory cards, are working well in the field, Siegler said.

“Our photographers love them,” he added. “We did some internal training to get them accustomed to shooting in 16:9, which, to be honest, was a little more time-consuming than [training for] using the camera.”

Cox originally committed to the P2 solid-state format for its 15 stations in 2004 and then announced in November 2006 that it would adopt the HD version of the camera once it became available. Sterling Davis, Cox Broadcasting’s vice president of engineering, said the rollout of standard-definition P2 gear is mostly complete and stations are buying HD cameras based on their individual needs.